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Thread: Web ad blocking may not be (entirely) legal

  1. #1
    Hairbautt's Avatar *haircut
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    "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.

    Firefox's Adblock plug-in is probably the most prominent way to configure Web browsers not to display advertisements. It lets users block ads from individual Web sites such as or through configurable directories, like "/banner". Similar plug-ins are available for Opera, Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer."

    For more information visit:

    Source: C|Net
    Last edited by Alien5; Jun 6th, 2006 at
    06:36 PM..

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  3. News (Archive)   -   #2
    TheFoX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    A very interesting article, with some serious questions that need addressing...

    Although the article refers to adverts, the gist of the piece is that the whole content of a website, from CSS to HTML, graphics and media, is copyright, and that any act to block a portion of that site would result in a derivative work of a copyright piece.

    Now this is where things get silly. I currently run the NoScript addon for FireFox, which allows me to selective enable/disable javascript for each site I visit. Accordingly, I am now browsing a derivative of the host site, and would be in breach of copyright laws.

    Another example of the above is if I have javascript disabled in my browser options, so that javascript does not run. Since embedded javascript in a website still forms part of the page, then my action of disabling javascript globally would again result in a derivative work, which again would mean I am breaching copyright law.

    We all know the dangers of ActiveX and JavaScript, which is why we have tools to keep them in check. If these scripts are part of the web page, then disabling them is no different to blocking ads.

    There is another issue worth bringing up. The article states that if you visit a web page, you are accepting their terms and conditions (clickwrap), but what of the times people are refered, or redirected, to another domain? Forced actions by web sites can clearly compromise us.

    My own opinion of the article is that we should be free to choose what we view, and if we feel that part of the content is not wanted, should be able to screen that out.

    After all, I only run javascript once I am happy that the site in question is genuine, and there are many sites where I have javascript disabled through my NoScript plugin (best way to defeat XSS).

  4. News (Archive)   -   #3
    "It's not a war on drugs, it's a war on personal freedom. Keep that in mind at all times." - Bill Hicks.

    Substitute the word drugs with the words ad blocker and that quote relates to the subject
    Last edited by Brenya; 09-15-2007 at 04:50 AM.

  5. News (Archive)   -   #4
    mr. nails's Avatar m@D @n!m3 BT Rep: +1
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    Oct 2003
    austin, tx
    WoW, this is retarded. i've been a pirate since i've had a pc and they expect me to allow ads? lol, yeah.. that's gonna happen.
    Alamo Drafthouse!

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  6. News (Archive)   -   #5
    vipaar's Avatar Da Reptyle Wid Style
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    Feb 2005
    London, UK
    what makes this an even bigger joke is that these ads take up bandwidth that internet service subscribers pay for and ISP`s like to "traffic manage" these subscribers, to be told that we have to allow these adverts which may or may not contain malicious code and be traffic managed at the same time without a legal way to control how the bandwidth is used is IMO wrong, now some people will say that the amount of bandwidth taken up by ads is minimal and irrelevent but, even if it`s only 5% it matters when your ISP traffic manages you, it also slows down page load times, next they will be saying that they have the right to phone you at home at your expense to try and sell you a product or service you don`t want

  7. News (Archive)   -   #6
    4play's Avatar knob jockey
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    1) what if your web browser cant render the ads anyway. lynx

    2) some methods of blocking ads still download the ads themselves then don't display them so the sites still get paid.

    3) It can help advertisers since people who don't want to see ads are never gonna click on them anyway.

    how about if advertisers did make such annoying ads then people wouldn't have needed to block them in the first place. I recall some sites launching umpteen pop ups and then complaining when people installed popup blocking software to stop it. Or flash adverts that suddenly start playing music or speaking that pretty much scares the shit out of you since your not expecting it.
    the really annoying ones at the minute are the floating ads that are written in css so they are very difficult to block.


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