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Litigation Possible for Web Ad Blocking Add-Ons
engine

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 3:17 pm on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Advertising-supported companies have long turned to the courts to squelch products that let consumers block or skip ads: it happened in the famous lawsuit against the VCR in 1979 and again with ReplayTV in 2001.

Tomorrow's legal fight may be over Web browser add-ons that let people avoid advertisements. These add-ons are growing in functionality and popularity, which has led legal experts we surveyed this week to speculate about when the first lawsuit will be filed.

If ad-blockers become so common that they slice away at publishers' revenues, "I absolutely would expect to see litigation in this area," said John Palfrey, executive director of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Litigation Possible for Web Ad Blocking Add-Ons [news.com]

 

ScubaAddict

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 4:16 am on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is all very interesting - but I always seem to get agitated on this subject.

Ad blockers have the right to block ads.
Webmasters have the right to block the ad blockers... but webmasters need to be given that option - it is currently very difficult to block ad blockers - but it is possible.

For the past year and a half I have been tracking users who have been blocking my ads - not doing anything, just keeping track of the percentage of my users blocking my ads. Started at just below 5%, and is now consistently above 15%. Last week I started blocking those users.

I provide my content for free. My competitors charge for content that is inferior to mine - very much inferior. I don't care if my users choose not to turn off their ad blockers and decide visit my competitors. This is my livelihood. The government takes 35% of my income, and adblockers take another 15%.

Don't want to turn off your blocker? Fine go elsewhere - or pay my premium fees. I could care less - but I sure am not going to continue to allow you to steal the product of my hard work. Those times are over.

I do find it quite humorous - those who have ad blockers, turn off javascript, turn off flash. Hahahaha! Do you also wear a helmet when you go outside? Not drive on roads that have billboards? Plug your ears when a sports announcer says "Invesco at Mile High" or "Coors Field"? Hahaha.

[edited by: ScubaAddict at 4:38 am (utc) on Sep. 16, 2007]

simey

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 5:58 am on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

All I know is I won't be feeling sorry for advertisers anytime soon.

If javascript, flash, etc. all dissapeared tomorrow, google could go broke, or figure out another way to put ads in front of us. Which do you think would happpen?
People used to go to movies, watch cable tv, not expecting to see ads, not anymore...

tim222

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 6:29 am on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

For the past year and a half I have been tracking users who have been blocking my ads ... Last week I started blocking those users.

Instead of blocking them, we could display a subscription page. Something really cheap, say $5 a year. Most would leave, but hey if any of them subscribe, it would be nice.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 7:12 am on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

conversation 2. I have a right to use adblocking software. if you've got a problem with that, get over it.

I think you overlooked...

conversation 3. I have a right to block your use of adblocking software on my server. if you've got a problem with that, get over it.

victor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 8:24 am on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I do find it quite humorous - those who have ad blockers, turn off javascript, turn off flash. Hahahaha! Do you also wear a helmet when you go outside? Not drive on roads that have billboards? Plug your ears when a sports announcer says "Invesco at Mile High" or "Coors Field"? Hahaha.

None of those outside things are running nauthorized and uncertified processes on my computer for someone else's financial benefit.

Javascript advertising scripts, Flash advertising scripts, etc, are running [/b]unauthorized and uncertified[/b] processes on my computer for someone else's financial benefit.

This makes them very close to malware in most aspects.

If you want permission to run such scripts on my computer, the first step is a certification process that guarantees to me the script you want to run is not malware.

Until you've sorted that, ad blocking is an essential aspect of security. See my previous post for more details.

So the first move must come from the ad industries engineers, not its lawyers.

RandomDot

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 8:40 am on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I will talk as a semi-professional writer this time. You do not have the right to get paid just because you did some work. Years ago, some time after I started as a writer, I had around 1800 pages of content. There was no publisher in this world who would touch it and no editor who would even care to reply why it was always rejected.

I did what most other writers did not do at that time, I made a website and published everything I had made. Then I put advertising on it, and left it for a year. Due to a strike of luck in general (not because of my writing skills, looking back, it was awful writing) I got alot of visitors and clicks and earned more than enough to cover my expenses and time spent.

The thing is that, you and me, and everybody else are on the terms of all writers in the world; they do alot of work, then they try to get it published and earn some money on their work. But for the most part, it's a waste of time on their part, because it is near to impossible to get something published in the real world - on the internet it is easy to get something published, but the profits are equally near impossible unless you have the skills to match it.

This is also about adblocking. You do not have the right to get clicks and earn money on anything you write and publish on the internet at all. You have the opportunity - but you can count on that people will counter it if you are in their face and just "click me! click me!"

Enjoy, and have fun,

ScubaAddict

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 4:13 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

victor writes:
If you want permission to run such scripts on my computer, the first step is a certification process that guarantees to me the script you want to run is not malware.

Until you've sorted that, ad blocking is an essential aspect of security. See my previous post for more details.

Do you hear voices in your head when nobody is around?

RandomDot writes:
This is also about adblocking. You do not have the right to get clicks and earn money on anything you write and publish on the internet at all. You have the opportunity - but you can count on that people will counter it if you are in their face and just "click me! click me!"

This is just stupid. I have the right to put whatever I want on my content. You have the right to go elsewhere.

biscuit

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 6:06 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

This seems a case where some greedy short-termists have done the entire internet a disservice. (Doesn't that seem to happen kinda often?).

Our site runs adsense, and these ads are generally highly relevant to the content. They make our users aware of products and services that they might actually want to use.

In the same way, if I had the choice of buying a computer magazine without ads, I'd decline. I want to know what is available and what it costs.

The problem is those webmasters/companies who feel that a user has to be hit with pointless ads right across the sensory spectrum, and bugged continually with plugs for some pointless and irrelevant product. We shouldn't be suing the adblocker makers - we should go after the prats who created a demand for them.

victor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 6:52 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Do you hear voices in your head when nobody is around?

Let me get this right: you want to run programs on my computer for your financial advantage.

I'm not so happy about that.

That leaves us (so far) three options:

1. threaten me and/or my software suppliers with legal action. That's the main thrust of this thread.

2. question my sanity (your response)

3. deal with the objections to server-supplied adware (ie my objections, and other people's)

Which do you think is most likely to work?

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 7:34 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Let me get this right: you want to run programs on my computer for your financial advantage.

Let me get this right: you want to use the information on my website potentially for your financial advantage without giving me the opportunity to reciprocate.

That's all we're talking about here, nothing more.

If it's not a 2-way street, we can sever the pipeline to that information.

moTi

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 7:43 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

This seems a case where some greedy short-termists have done the entire internet a disservice.

yea, and you can see the effects on this board: complete overreactions like "websites with ads are garbage", "all ads are annoying", "advertising is a doomed revenue model" etc..

and what happens? people tend to block all ads on all websites.
websites with flashy banners as well as websites with decent adsense. cheap websites along with quality websites they find valuable.

as publisher and user i say, that appropriate ad support on a good website is absolutely ok. not i am doing me a disservice by letting them decide to turn off their adblock or leave. actually they are doing them a disservice: you can't have everything for free, simple as that.

ken_b

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 1:15 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

So maybe not block users who have ad blockers turned on. Maybe just redirect them to a page where they can register and pay to view the site without ads.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 7:12 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would give them 2-3 free pages, no choice as it takes about that long to figure out the ad blocker it running anyway.

After that you can enable the ads or pay to play, sounds like a plan.

jeffgroovy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 8:21 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think Incredibill is onto something. Sure people have the right to block ads on my site, but I also have the right to block their access to my site on account of their blocking my ads unless they want to pay out of their pocket for the use of the information available on my site that cost me both time and money to get there in front of their eyes.

If you called your favorite magazine and said you wanted a version of it with no ads in it, (assuming they wouldn't laugh at you) it would cost you 10 times the regular price due to the fact that you'd be cutting out their ability to monetize. Don't think for a second the small subscription fee pays for all the writers, editors, staff, postage, printing costs etc. If anything the subscription fee is largely used as a tool to show potential advertisers their reader base is truly interested in it the content found in their magazine.

Rosalind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 12:29 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've also heard that 90% is a typical figure for the revenue magazines get from advertising.

I don't know whether this litigation will get very far, but I can see an increasing number of websites taking some action to block content for ad-blocking users. So if ad-blocking hits the mainstream, it's likely that so will countermeasures.

Sylver

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 12:54 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)


I would give them 2-3 free pages, no choice as it takes about that long to figure out the ad blocker it running anyway.
After that you can enable the ads or pay to play, sounds like a plan.

Fair enough.

From my viewpoint, I am don't mind the ads, except for 2 things:
1. A large number of them are spyware.
Do you like to be spied on? I don't.

2. A lot of them increase significantly page load times.
I very often connect through my cellphone. 3G. Slightly faster a good old 56k modem. Now picture this. I am looking for some stuff on the internet. I Google for it, and land on a site. The loading starts. 5 seconds. Top of the page appears. 10 seconds. 15 seconds. 25 seconds. 50 seconds. Tada! Here comes some irrelevant video ad for a car or something. 1 minute. Ah...finally. content. Oups. No, actually it has a link that looks interesting. So I click. and the circus starts again. 15 minutes later, I finally know for sure that the data I want is not on this site. (I am pretty persistent). These ads wasted my time.

So, even though I am interested in seeing some of the ads, I will just turn them off. Pages load faster and if the website turns out to be a waste of time (many are), I haven't lost that much time in the process.

I can tell you right now that if advertisers stopped trying to monitor my comings and goings and if they were mindful of the fact that my time is valuable and that the first thing I want to see on a website is the actual website, I wouldn't ban the ad servers IPs.

However these 2 conditions are too much to ask, it seems.

Liane

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 4:54 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Excellent points Sylver!

Idea for a new Google feature:

If I search for a keyword string and am given the option of 1000 sites to investigate, I would love for Google (or any other search engine) to tell me "this site blocks ad blocking software" so that I could save my time and energy and move on to the first site which does not display that text.

I don't want to bother you or your site or use your bandwidth, but I also don't want to waste my time loading your pages just to find out that unless I dump my ad blocking software, you don't want me there anyway!

Everyone's happy. I don't waste my time or yours! :)

[edited by: Liane at 4:55 pm (utc) on Sep. 17, 2007]

victor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 8:50 am on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

incredibill:
If it's not a 2-way street, we can sever the pipeline to that information.

You are ducking my primary point that you want me to run run programs that may be tainted. Unless the ad industry addresses that point, Google may shut you all down:

[theregister.co.uk...]

"....cyber crooks increasingly look to legitimate third-party ad networks as a vehicle for distributing software that silently installs Trojans"

Solve that problem and you may be able to move on to a moral or economic case for coercing ads onto surfers.

Leave it unsolved, and adware remains potential malware; surfers would be very unwise not to block it.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 7:12 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

You are ducking my primary point that you want me to run run programs that may be tainted. Unless the ad industry addresses that point, Google may shut you all down

I'm not ducking any point.

That's a browser security issue, something for MS, Firefox or Opera to deal with to make sure the browser can cause no harm while running those scripts, something known for years as a "sandbox".

You're ducking the point that the information isn't free and we can shut off access if there's nothing to gain from sharing it as servers aren't free.

Shutting off access comes in many forms such as blocking ad blockers or good sites simply going offline if they can't afford to stay in business any more.

Block ads, kill a website today!

victor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3450833 posted 6:14 pm on Sep 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

Let me see if I've got you right:

  • You want to download uncertified software (JS, Flash, whatever) into my computer.
  • You provide no warranty for your software, and no data sheets so my user agent can gauge its overhead in advance
  • I will be responsible for all due diligence testing necessary to detect if you have fed me malware.
  • You expect a judge to confirm that I must do that -- and then run your software -- before I can have access to parts of your website.

    Even Microsoft can see through that one: (Security Law 1):
    [microsoft.com...]

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