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Ad Blocking – a Coming Legal Battleground? 686

Posted by timothy
from the you-must-watch-and-hear-this-ad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Computerworld asks: What will happen if big advertisers declare AdBlock Plus a clear and present danger to online business models? Hint: it will probably involve lawyers. From the article: 'Could browser ad blocking one day become so prevalent that it jeopardises potentially billions of dollars of online ad revenue, and the primary business models of many online and new media businesses? If so, it will inevitably face legal attack.'"
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Ad Blocking – a Coming Legal Battleground?

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  • Short answer: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:34PM (#42076837)

    No. People who block ads do not click ads anyway, and as long as adblock is opt-in, this will never, ever be a problem.

    • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BonzaiThePenguin (2528980) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:43PM (#42076915)
      It's not about clicking the ads, it's about the impressions. Oftentimes the ads are about increasing awareness of a brand's existence.
      • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by multicoregeneral (2618207) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:04PM (#42077093) Homepage
        Seems to me that if an advertising scheme is so obnoxious that an entire category of software arises to block it, then it's the fault of the medium of advertising being too invasive, too obnoxious. Not the fault of the people who block it.
        • by Adriax (746043) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:22PM (#42077233)

          Dairy cattle don't get a say in how annoying/invasive the rancher's methods to maximize milking output are, so why should internet cattle?

          • by quixote9 (999874) on Friday November 23, 2012 @07:44PM (#42077875) Homepage
            Officially, we're not cattle. So when did making a buck off me start to take precedence over everything in the Bill of Rights?

            That's not just a figure of speech. As the (great?)grandparent comment says, it's about impressions. There's plenty of evidence (1 [uchicago.edu], 2 [le.ac.uk], 3 [wiley.com], for instance) that ads have the most effect on behavior when you're not paying attention. So the only way for me to stop manipulation of my own mind is not to have those ads in the background in the first place.

            But advertisers have some sacred "right" to make a buck that's more important than me making my own decisions. Which is even weirder because, I'm told, the free market depends on informed consumers making free choices.

            Let's face it. Advertisers are gunning for a world where our eyelids are propped open with matchsticks while we watch whatever we're told to watch.
            • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:30PM (#42078975) Journal

              But advertisers have some sacred "right" to make a buck that's more important than me making my own decisions.

              It's not some right of the advertisers that's at issue. It's about whether the author/publisher of the original work containing the link to the ads has the right to demand you view the ads that pay him if you view his work, or whether your right to cut out the ads and only view the remainder takes precedence.

              Now if the advertisers and the authors really wanted to get you to see the ads, they could literally embed the text of the ad in the text of the work, rather than embedding an easy-to-filter link. (This could be done automagically at the server.) Then you'd need some serious A.I. to do the cutting. But that would also make it harder for the advertiser to track how often the ad was seen (he'd have to trust the server) and eliminate the obnoxious graphic and animated ads.

              (And they ARE obnoxious. I just started a new contract and the customer's I.T. department deployed Chrome with substantially less ad protection than the firefox+adblock plus+flashblock I'm used to. Popups/overs/unders are supposedly blocked, but the animated garbage and the mouse-over stuff that pops out and covers the screen I'm trying to read are horribly annoying, and they HAVE to be sucking up a lot of network bandwidth. If advertisers had just stuck to still images scattered around the page it wouldn't have attracted so much work on countermeasures.)

              • by dadioflex (854298) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:05AM (#42079471)
                If content creators embedded graphics and text in the article I'd be fine with that. I don't expect to tear pages out of a magazine before I read it and those suckers are full of ads. The problem is, as you ably stated, the animated crap. I've had access to ad-skipping on TV for around a decade. I can not watch TV advertisements. I will leave a room and rest my fevered brow against an exterior wall before I'll watch one. Unless I hear about a clever ad then I'll trawl Youtube until I find it. So, in summary, make better ads.
                • by david_thornley (598059) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:12PM (#42081809)

                  The animated crap isn't the only problem. Another problem is the potential for malware. As long as $TRUSTED_SITE sells generic ad space to $USUALLY_REPUTABLE_ADVERTISING_COMPANY who accepts ads from $NAIVE_BUSINESS that's been hacked by $EVIL_CRACKERS, or for that matter doesn't do enough checking and accepts ads from $SHADY_COMPANY, running any ad executables is going to be dangerous. My wife got a computer infected from the New York Times. I assume they've done some work on making sure it doesn't happen again, but it's going to be something of a contest between screening methods and sneaky black hats, and if anybody in the chain decides not to protect you by not accepting money from an advertiser, you can be in trouble.

                  I don't use ABP. The ads haven't bothered me enough. I do use NoScript.

                • by ganjadude (952775)
                  I dont mind when a plain text 2 sentence ad is placed in an article

                  I loathe the ancient flash ads and banner adsbut what absolutely annoys me more than ANYTHING, is this

                  When sites make an article run over 10-15 pages to force more ads (that i dont see anyway with my tools) There is one or 2 sites out there that I need that do their layouts this way, usually when im looking at benchmarks, but these are the ones that annoy the hell out of me, and the worst thing is I have yet found a way around it.
              • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:52AM (#42079673)

                As long as the actual rendering of the page takes place on my computer - on MY property by MY terms - I have the right to modify the content shown on MY computer loaded from MY RAM. As long as I don't modify the original content on THEIR server, which would be shown to everyone else as well, I have done nothing wrong.

                This makes me steaming mad because it is basically advertisers saying "We are too stupid/lazy to come up with a new, less outdated business model, so make them conform to our decade-old adfarm server methods."

                If a page hosts their own ads, locally, and they aren't from some servenet adfarm bullshit, they will probably show up even with something like AdBlockPlus installed. You can manually block them, but you can do mostly the same thing with any element, of any page, anywhere, using a plugin like FireBug.

              • by Tom (822) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @09:15AM (#42081107) Homepage Journal

                It's about whether the author/publisher of the original work containing the link to the ads has the right to demand you view the ads that pay him if you view his work, or whether your right to cut out the ads and only view the remainder takes precedence.

                That's easy to answer.

                He doesn't.

                He does have the right to distribute his work under his own terms. He does not have a right to determine how I consume said work. He can try to force me through technological means, but not through legal means.

                If you want to make sure you are paid for your work, there is already a system we have in place for doing so, it's called selling it, aka taking my money before you give me your product. It's really simple, it works, and it is quite common.

          • by Imagix (695350)
            Cows with guns..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQMbXvn2RNI [youtube.com]
        • Re:Short answer: (Score:4, Insightful)

          by John Bokma (834313) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:29PM (#42077337) Homepage
          Heh, it's more like: 1) can we break this 2) is it easy to do so 3) can we get away with it 4) get we something out of it (real or assumed) if all 4 can be answered with yes, then a lot of people do so, even the reward is just a giggle. Hence vandalism, animal torture, uprooted plants, names scratched in objects/trees, shop lifting, graffiti, you name it. Advertising is always obnoxious no matter how subtle it's done.
          • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Interesting)

            by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Friday November 23, 2012 @07:24PM (#42077741)

            Advertising is always obnoxious no matter how subtle it's done.
             
            Really?
             
            I own a small movie theatre and advertise what's playing and what's coming with a webpage and an email mailing list.
             
            People actively seek out and view the webpage hundreds of times per day, and I have a fair number of people who have signed up to receive automatic notifications of what's playing when I have a confirmed booking for a new movie.
             
            I don't think that my advertising is "obnoxious", since it's information that people are actually searching for and obviously want to receive.

            • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

              by wiedzmin (1269816) on Friday November 23, 2012 @07:56PM (#42077973)

              People actively seek out and view the webpage

              Notice how you didn't say "I spam my oversized/bliking/popup banner all over other sites to get people to view my webpage"? People find your page because you provide information they need, not because they see your ads. Personally, I can honestly say that not once in my life have I read/viewed/purchased anything from clicking a banner. And yeah, I know the whole subconscious brand recognition shpeel... Still - I never buy anything on the brand name alone. Except for Sony, their products I don't buy specifically because of their brand name. But I digress.

      • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pla (258480) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:45PM (#42077433) Journal
        It's not about clicking the ads, it's about the impressions. Oftentimes the ads are about increasing awareness of a brand's existence.

        Free hint - If you use such aggressive ads that they make it through my filters and I actually see them, I intentionally won't buy your product.

        Your move.
      • by CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) on Friday November 23, 2012 @07:05PM (#42077571)

        and im paying it not the advertiser
        until they pay me then they can fuck off

      • Oh the horror! Millions of people won't see ads pushing them to buy products they will never buy. It will be a disaster! An economic collapse!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by robot5x (1035276)
      but you're seeing things from an end-user perspective. Businesses and lawyers see things from a... business and money-making perspective. In that respect, the answer can actually only be "yes".

      There are many examples of the legal system being used to preserve outdated and irrelevant business models that quite clearly fly in the face of expressed consumer demand (RIAA anyone?). This looks like it won't be any exception, unfortunately.
      • by dcollins117 (1267462) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:45PM (#42077439)
        I'll give up my Adblock when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
        • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mrbcs (737902) on Friday November 23, 2012 @07:59PM (#42077997)
          Am I the only one that uses a hosts file? Takes care of more than just ads.

          It's to the point now that when I see ads, I'm shocked. I've had them blocked for years.

          They may be able to stop adblock, but good luck trying to outlaw a hosts file.

          • by EETech1 (1179269)

            Oh come on now...

            How can you have a 6 digit UID and possibly ask /. if you are the only one who uses a host file? :)

            Ducks...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem is, websites cannot easily detect if the user has ad-block deployed for their site.

      The fair way to solve this problem, is that the site should be able to first query the client if ad-blocking is deployed, and, if so, then decide whether it wants to deploy content or not. Fair for both sides.

      Step #1: User clicks on a link.

      Step #2: Web site shows mostly blank image, requesting that user first whitelist this site from ad-blocking, then hitting refresh once done

      Step #3: User decides if the site

      • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by magic maverick (2615475) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:10PM (#42077141) Homepage Journal

        It's already sort of possible.

        Except that it's more like:
        Step 1. User loads page.
        Step 2. Page uses JavaScript to display page.
        Step 3. I go elsewhere, because frankly, fuck 'em.
        Step 4. Anyone else who doesn't have JS enabled does the same.
        Step 5. JS can be used to detect whether external ads are loading or not, and block those that don't load external ads.
        ------

        I don't have an ad blocker. I use Request Policy to block external requests (and whitelist and temporary whitelist if I want external content in a web page). This blocks most ads by default, without any extra work on my part. I also use NoScript. This blocks more ads, especially as I'm not about to whitelist the ad domains. I finally use a cookie manager that blocks cookies by default (and I whitelist certain domains).

        The only ads I see are the ones that don't use JS, and are served from the same domain as the website I'm viewing. Though I was certainly thinking about blocking a moving graphic ad recently...

        -----
        So, yeah, websites can detect if you have JS enabled, and use that to detect if ads are being displayed. And I'll say fuck you to the parasites and find my sources of entertainment, news, and community elsewhere. I'd be perfectly happy if all ad supported websites went out of business (I'm not counting those that have ads for their own products though, just those with ads from external sources). Just like if broadcast TV were to go elsewhere because everyone skipped the ads, I wouldn't care at all either.

        • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:48PM (#42077463)

          > And I'll say fuck you to the parasites

          I understand why you don't like ads and I support your right to avoid them, but are you sure you understand who is exhibiting parasitic behavior in this situation?

          • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

            by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Friday November 23, 2012 @07:43PM (#42077871)

            I understand why you don't like ads and I support your right to avoid them, but are you sure you understand who is exhibiting parasitic behavior in this situation?

            Let's see.

            The person running the web site. Seriously. They're accepting money from the advertising company that provides the ads. The advertising company ultimately gets nothing out of the deal because I - the viewer - am not going to buy their crap. Ergo the ad-funded web site owner is the parasite, feeding upon the false assumptions of the advertising industry.

            Not good enough? Let's try again.

            The advertising company providing the ads. They are using my compute resources and bandwidth to display content that is offensive to me. Without asking my permission, they utilize my time as well, consuming the moments my brain spends viewing their intrusion. While it can be argued that I benefit in the form of the content I DO want being paid for by the ads, there are other revenue models that mysteriously work for much content.

            Just a thought... we - the consumers - should be suing the advertising industry (out of existence). If their model is snake-oil and does not work (as in generate sales) then they should be persecuted as frauds. If their model is effective and "generates" sales, they are guilty of the monetary equivalent of date-rape. Their images, sound clips, product-placement and so on act to manipulate us into spending money we do not otherwise wish to spend. It's coercion. It's just like hypnotizing their "marks" and "suggesting" the target voluntarily empties their wallet. If advertising works, it's disgusting.

            TLDR? Just read the bold parts.

        • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

          by blacklint (985235) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:57PM (#42077517) Homepage

          And I'll say fuck you to the parasites and find my sources of entertainment, news, and community elsewhere. I'd be perfectly happy if all ad supported websites went out of business (I'm not counting those that have ads for their own products though, just those with ads from external sources).

          Just out of curiosity, I'd like to point out that all search engines are ad supported. And, for that matter, Slashdot. You don't want to be able to use Google or Bing (and by extension, pretty much any other search like DuckDuckGo), or do you have some other business model to propose?

        • by allo (1728082)

          you cannot win the war. Adblocking is mostly a way to stop anoyances for the user. This means, if you do such checks, then there will be some adblocking technique, which renders the "correct" page in the background, then extracts the content and displays it without ads.
          Same situation as before, but both sides need more resources to keep doing what they want to do. So just accept it ... some people do not want to see ads, and they will block them.

      • Re:Short answer: (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:30PM (#42077351)

        NO. Fuck this.

        I have a browser connected to the internet.

        Put your fucking site on the internet or DON'T.
        Allow me to view it, or don't.

        FUCK any process that allows an external entity to query my status or the status of the hardware I'm using.

        if your business model *requires* you to snoop on me.... fuck off.

    • by pollarda (632730) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:23PM (#42077263)
      The whole point of HTML's markup language is to separate structure from content so that client side devices can render the HTML (and XML/SGML) in a matter most appropriate for the user. It was planned from the onset that many different devices could render a page differently. For example, there used to be completely text based browsers and clearly they rendered pages differently than graphics based browsers. While I'm not sure if they were ever built, there were even discussions of audio based browsers for those who are sight impaired. The ability to modify how a page is displayed is central to the entire concept of HTML. Using an Adblock add-on is simply utilizing HTML in the way it was intended. If the publishers do not like it then there are many less flexible formats that render a page exactly how they want it -- most notably PDF files -- that they can use to publish their content.
    • Re:Short answer: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bfandreas (603438) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:56PM (#42077509)
      Adblocking is an act of self defense. Too often has my system been halted to a crawl by Flash and bad JS. Also I have a 2gb mobile data plan. You trying to sell me stuff using resources I have to pay for is not acceptable.
      If the adoids and other mad men showed some restraint then this wouldn't be such a big problem. Instead they do this LOOK AT ME BLINK FLASH BANG stuff that really gets in the way. Also targeted ads for stuff I searched for online is becoming creepy. I don't appreciate being stalked by cellphones I decided not to buy.

      The subscription model works if you manage to get single sign on done(I don't want to memorize another password for another website) and if you get micropayments/subscriptions to a level that is practical and reasonable. People buy apps for a buck on a whim. I buy kindle newspaper editions on a whim. Yet in many cases payment gets in the way. For instance I was really interested getting the online edition of DER SPIEGEL(one of the few remaining respectable weeklies worldwide) for my tablet. Their subscription process mimicks what they had used for their print edition. I wasn't able to pay on Amazon. I wasn't able to pay via Google Play. I decided I didn't need it. If your process still uses snail mail, fax or me setting up monthly payments via online banking and a week-long approval process then you got no sale. Good luck with that ad revenue and dead tree editions.

      No failed business practice has ever been successfully defended by a lawyer. They only can slow down the inevitable and become rich in the process.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Not to mention the viruses and other malware that often come attached to those ads.

  • Yes. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The businesses it jeopardizes are flawed in that they depend on advertising. When that business model doesn't work, they deserve to die.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:34PM (#42076841)

    Internet -> Adblock -> Router -> Ad-free internet. These devices already exist, it's only a matter of time before a major router manufacturer builds in black/whitelist support for ad blocking. AdBlock Plus is great, but if they want to escalate, we are prepared to go full out.

    • +1 Absolutely! We go full out! Enough of this in your face advertising! It doesn't need to be every conveivable place in existence!
    • I just found "DroidWall", in the Google Playstore's "tools" section. Not meaning to be a shill for this little app, but for rooted android devices, it's a great little 'firewall'. I finally have a choice over what apps/games get an internet connection, regardless of its 'permissions'.This app should be s.o.p. for android, imo.
  • Nonsense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:35PM (#42076843)
    A legal attack on what grounds? That "we're not getting the profits we have a God-given right to"?
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      A legal attack on what grounds? That "we're not getting the profits we have a God-given right to"?

      Works for Hollywood.

  • Yup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:36PM (#42076851) Homepage

    Because legal attacks have worked really, really well against anything that happens on the Internet. Taking down MegaUpload and The Pirate Bay eliminated piracy altogether, never to resurface again. Gone, dead, finished. Burying ad blocking services under lawsuits will totally never make them even more resilient and hard to pin down. No way that'd happen.

    • Re:Yup (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kye4u (2686257) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:44PM (#42076927)

      Because legal attacks have worked really, really well against anything that happens on the Internet. Taking down MegaUpload and The Pirate Bay eliminated piracy altogether, never to resurface again. Gone, dead, finished. Burying ad blocking services under lawsuits will totally never make them even more resilient and hard to pin down. No way that'd happen.

      You can add napster as another case example. Did the legal battle on music piracy really change anything? No. What ended up happening was a handful of individuals were fined ridiculous amounts of money that they would never would make in their life time.

      You know what changed everything? Having a legitimate alternative to being forced to pay $20 for an album with maybe only 2 or 3 descent songs on it. Cue itunes.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now's your time to shine!
  • Google ads (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Google ads are always completely irrelevant and annoying. It is about time businesses start thinking about a real business model instead of annoying people with ads.

  • They'll have to figure out a way of detecting us first, and I think writing a decent law that would target this reasonably would be pretty tough.

    It'd be amusing, perhaps as amusing as spammers suing Google for the right to spam your mailbox.

  • by griego (1108909) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:38PM (#42076877)

    I've run across a few sites here and there that won't display any content unless I disable ad-blocking. I'm surprised this isn't more prevalent. Surely it's cheaper to pay a programmer to write some code than paying lawyers to do their thing.

    • by Kethinov (636034) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:47PM (#42076947) Homepage Journal

      Yep, exactly. Preventing ad block from working is quite easy to do. Most sites don't bother because only a small minority does it and that small minority tends to be disproportionately made up of the kooky anti-consumerist crowd anyway, who aren't worth advertising to due to their hatred of advertising in general. If ad blocking ever went mainstream you'd see more sites tying content to ads explicitly.

      • by Albanach (527650) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:03PM (#42077091) Homepage

        Most sites don't bother because only a small minority does it and that small minority tends to be disproportionately made up of the kooky anti-consumerist crowd anyway, who aren't worth advertising to due to their hatred of advertising in general. If ad blocking ever went mainstream you'd see more sites tying content to ads explicitly.

        Perhaps they don't bother because the cost of entering an arms race would be too high. If any major site were to block adblock users, you would expect the plugin to quickly route around their attempts.

    • by bmo (77928) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:51PM (#42076973)

      I've run across a few sites here and there that won't display any content unless I disable ad-blocking. I'm surprised this isn't more prevalent.

      I have too, and I never go there again.

      I whitelist sites that I think are worth reading and don't have obnoxious animated or too-numerous ads (I turn it off, hit reload, and see if it's stupid or not).

      But if you're going to outlaw adblocking plugins, you'd better outlaw the hosts file, too.

      --
      BMO

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bwoneill (1973028)
      Most of these methods involve using third party JavaScript which can be circumvented by NoScript.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      It will be the same as with P2P apps - a game of cat and mouse between the guys writing the ad blocking software and the web developers trying to detect its use. Ultimately the ad blockers will win because they control the client, so the web guys will resort to lawyers.

    • by Baron_Yam (643147)

      I assume that they're unable to directly detect AdBlock, but instead are checking to see if your browser has requested the advertising to load. If that kind of check becomes too popular, I imagine AdBlock (or similar software) will be modified to include a list of sites for which it doesn't completely block advertising, but merely stops it from actually rendering on your screen.

      You'll still take a bandwidth hit, but your eyes will be safe.

    • by bl968 (190792)

      I have never found a site I couldn't adblock...

  • by bmo (77928)

    Could browser ad blocking one day become so prevalent that it jeopardises potentially billions of dollars of online ad revenue, and the primary business models of many online and new media businesses?

    No. 99 percent of people don't bother blocking ads and 90 percent don't even know that you can block ads. This is a ridiculous question to ask, especially since ad blocking has been around for so many years with solutions ranging from a custom hosts file to browser plugins and built-in adblock (opera).

    Try to

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      No. 99 percent of people don't bother blocking ads and 90 percent don't even know that you can block ads. This is a ridiculous question to ask, especially since ad blocking has been around for so many years with solutions ranging from a custom hosts file to browser plugins and built-in adblock (opera).

      Bingo.

      I'm very computer literate, I could block ads, but I don't. Why not?

      a) I can't be bothered to invest the time in downloading the software, deploying it and doing whatever else is required.

      b

      • by NIK282000 (737852)

        That's pretty much how I see it as well. The other day my girlfriend said "hey you still have ads on gmail" and I responded "really? where?" I really don't noticed them any more. Not to say that every one should just man up and not care but it doesn't (in most cases) hurt you to have ads on your screen and the people putting them up make a few bucks at the same time, why go out of your way to pinch their pennies?

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Ad makers should actually ask themselves - why have we created a need for ad blocking software? When they have the answer and acted upon it then the ad blocking software is no longer needed.

  • People want free money. More at 11.

    I could say the same, there's potentially trillions of dollars at stake if people don't pay me 1$ for every website they go to. I might have to start call a lawyer to see if it's possible to mandate this.

  • No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:39PM (#42076891)

    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

    Robert A. Heinlein

  • by RenHoek (101570) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:40PM (#42076899) Homepage

    I'd love.. well.. no. I'd tolerate more ads on sites if they were safe. Here in the Netherlands, we've recently had infections go via nu.nl and nrc.nl. Both very respectable news websites and perfectly safe. If it wasn't for the trojans served via the ads.

    Nowadays all ads are the enemy. Flash, Java and Adobe reader seem perma-broken, coming with new 0-day attacks every time.

    So adblockers aren't just a convenient way of stopping the more shady sites from popping a million blinking commercials in your face, they're part of regiment to keep your PC as healthy as possible.

    (Certainly with the current trend of commercialized trojan kits, which means every noob can whip up something that nestles itself in your MBR, stays invisible and undetectable to everything you can through at, can steal your passwords and inject any banking site with redirecting iframes. No sir, the internet is a wild an dangerous place.)

  • Slashdot's anti-ad rhetoric aside, content creators or rights holders have a right to monetize if they want to -- just as content consumers have a right to bypass that content. Everyone has a choice and everyone has other options.

    Right now, the easiest path for those who want to skip ads is also the best-of-both-worlds path: You can consume the content you want *and* avoid the ads. Eventually, some (maybe a few, maybe many) content creators will simply not serve content unless they have confirmation that their monetization vehicle was served as well. Some sites will die because it turns out there are other options -- and many will thrive because people need what they've got.

    If it *does* become a legal battleground, it'll be less about the macro and more about the micro. No one gives a fuck if there's one less or one more eyeball on some half-baked 9gag clone serving up commoditized CPM advertising. But a social-media ad that's relevant to maybe 100 people in the whole country? Advertisers -- and their attorneys -- damned well care if they're losing significant percentages on those hyper-targeted buys, which often carry a premium.

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:48PM (#42076959) Journal

    Anyone can file a lawsuit over just about anything..... So could advertisers decide to sue developers who made tools like Ad-Block? Of course!

    I think the reason you haven't seen this happen so far (and why it may not happen in the future) is the relatively poor odds of winning such a case. First of all, you have to ask if users normally have the legal right to avoid viewing advertising that's presented to them. Clearly, there's vast evidence that they do, including the ability to change the channel on the TV when commercials come on.

    One would have to successfully argue that somehow, contrary to all advertising ever created in the past, advertisers placing their ads on web sites enjoy a special legal protection where they can force viewers to view their ads.

    IMO, such a suggestion borders on insanity .....

  • by dragisha (788) <dragisha.m3w@org> on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:51PM (#42076979)

    ...I'll be happy to look at whatever they send to me.

    And vice versa.

    They probably can kill AdBlock Plus (legally). As they tried to kill libdvbcss, at least. When this happens, people will find other ways to block. And advertisers will find new ways to attack blockers, and to pass their ads through. And so on.

  • When I see news stories like this, I have to chuckle at the "singularity" crowd who can't wait to get direct internet connections to their brains.

    • "You could get a phantascopic system planted directly on your retinas, just as Bud's sound system lived on his eardrums. You could even get telaesthetics patched into your spinal column at various key vertebrae. But this was said to have its drawbacks: some concerns about long-term nerve damage, plus it was rumored that hackers for big media companies had figured out a way to get through the defenses that were built into such systems, and run junk advertisements in your peripheral vision (or even spang in t

  • there is no way to legislate a ban on adblockers and enforce that legislation.. absolutely no fucking way.. so that LAWYER that wrote article and the AD-SUPPORTED site that published it both need to find some other tree to bark up.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:57PM (#42077027) Homepage

    If ad blocking was a sufficiently large problem, there are far easier solution like embedding the ads harder in the content. For example transitional ads between pages, DOM pop-over ads, click-throughs that open a pop-up and whatnot. Imagine someone went through dead-tree newspapers and noted the ad locations, then gave/sold you that list to feed into your magic black marker ad remover machine. What possible grounds would you have to call that illegal? It's a legal battle they're sure to lose.

  • what about legal attack on ad's on data caped lines?

    Can Comcast force you to download Comcast ad's that count as part of your download cap? Can they sue over some one trying to ad black it?

  • everybody has the right to speak.

    and everybody has the right to NOT LISTEN.

    3 million servicefolk have died for that right. don't make me open a new case of whoop-ass over it.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday November 23, 2012 @07:22PM (#42077727)

    Back in the old days there was lots of talk and more than a couple of companies working on micropayment systems. The idea was that you could pay something like half a cent for a webpage. Prices could be adjusted depending on things like demand and target audience. Quality web sites would prosper, crappy ones would die out. All the good stuff you get from a free market.

    But somewhere along the line, advertising usurped that role and no micropayment system ever achieved viability. So now we get useless ad-farms filled with seo-bait, articles on web-sites broken down into one paragraph a page to maximize ad-impressions and worst of all a brain-drain focused on spending billions of dollars for tracking systems to (presumably) more effectively target advertisements (never mind the societal cost of using these tracking system for other purposes) rather than creating new and innovative technology that would benefit man-kind in general.

    So I welcome a show-down between advertisers and ad-blockers. There will be casualities, maybe even bullshit where adblock authors see some jail-time. But if the end result is that advertising recedes and we come up with another more straight-forward, less socially-destructive way to fund the creation of high-quality content on the internet it will be a huge step forward for society.

  • I use script block and flash block. But even when I get a level of mojo in site like DailyKos or Slashdot that enables me to block ads, I don't. If it gives these sites some revenue, it is all ok with me.

    What I really want is a way to tell the advertisers my advertisement acceptance policy. I want to be able to say, "no flashing text, no moving images, no sound. No click to dismiss an obnoxious add blocking most of the content". It would be great if I can also specify a few keywords for products and services I am currently planning to buy, or topics of interest too.

    As long as the ads are unobtrusive, I would not mind. But the advertises seem to be hell bent on being really really obnoxious and thrust their ads in my face.

    BTW on what legal grounds can the attack ad-block? Can they force me watch TV ads instead of going to the bathroom? Or mute the TV when the ads or on? Can they stop me from turning over ad pages of the magazine without looking at them? Can they stop me from throwing away the classified section of the newspaper without looking at it? What if there is a company that will offer me the service of taking my magazine and rip out every ad page in it and then giving me a much slimmed down mag to carry on airplanes?

  • ...content providers and the advertisers they partner with are not idiots. They will realize that trying to to legally force ad blockers off the net is not going to happen, no matter how much money they throw at it -- as long as every packet is treated the same way, ads can and will be filtered and their content pirated. They learned their lessons from the recording and motion picture industry, who lost control of their distribution channel thanks to recording and networking technologies. What they will do is take control of the pipe that is carrying the content, so that they can control the distribution channel from end to end, the salient lesson to be learned from the recording and motion picture failures to adapt their business model to the internet. The internet backbone providers want this, so they already have a major ally in making that happen. Eventually, and sooner rather than later, network neutrality will be lost, and the internet will become very much a walled garden for the vast majority of our species, which is terribly, terribly sad.
  • by Peaceful_Patriot (658116) <michelle.goldnuggetwebs@com> on Saturday November 24, 2012 @01:49AM (#42079895) Homepage
    I have several websites which have been up for well over a decade and are highly rated. Last year I was laid off my job and for the first time, started putting Google ads on my pages. I'm making a few hundred dollars per month from them. Yes, people do click on ads that interest them. I use only ads which are related to the subject of the page. I try hard not to annoy my visitors, no pop ups, pop unders, no ads in the text, no flashing obnoxiousness. No tracking.

    I am embarrassed to admit that I use an adblock myself. I felt hypocritical so I turned it off for awhile. OMG. I had forgotten how bad it could be out there. I certainly don't blame my visitors for using an adlocker. I try not to punish those who don't.

    Generally, the webmaster decides where and what type of ads will display. Blaming the advertisers is off base as they make a variety of ad sizes and types available but the webmaster chooses how far he goes with them. Perhaps try writing an email to the webmaster telling them that you find their site too annoying to visit again.
  • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @07:46AM (#42080893) Homepage Journal
    In a country where Internet Access is metered by usage forcing me to watch advertisements amounts to theft.

    ESPECIALLY considering that MOST advertisements are obscenely huge either actual VIDEO or else more often HUGE flash files.

    My obviously well documented history of flat out REFUSING to return to a site which either FORCES me to view ads or where I cannot successfully filter the ads shows that I have NO INTENTION of actually defrauding anyone of anything.

    Legally, sites do NOT have a leg to stand on.

    If your advertisements were NOT huge data-hogs and visually offensive (NB the advertising industry at one point claimed that lack of click-through was due to people not noticing their ads, which quite frankly FAILS THE LAUGH TEST) then I wouldn't be blocking them (eg Google text ads).

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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