MUNICH (Reuters) - A German court ruled on Thursday that ad-blocking software by vendor Eyeo was legal, dealing a blow to media groups ProSiebenSat.1, RTL and Sueddeutsche Zeitung, who had sought to ban it.
Cologne-based Eyeo serves the fast-growing market for software to block internet advertising that many users find intrusive or interferes with their use of websites.
It provides software to block all ads but then offers publishers the chance to join a “white list” to enable ads to be shown on their sites.
In most cases, being added to the white list is free subject to a check that the advertising is acceptable, but media groups object to the fact that Eyeo takes a share of the extra revenues the biggest advertisers make.
The Munich higher regional court said that the software did not violate competition laws, saying Eyeo’s business model did not qualify as “forbidden aggressive advertising”.
Media groups including ProSiebenSat.1, RTL and newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung depend on advertising to pay for their publications and media.
Last year, the regional court in Cologne handed publisher Axel Springer a partial victory, saying Eyeo should not charge the group for putting it on its white list of publishers and advertisers it exempts from blanket blocking by consumers.
Due to the differing verdicts, the case is expected to be referred to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice.
Reporting by Joern Poltz; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Susan Fenton