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Is Ad Blocking Legal?

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With the continuing furor over the Firefox ad blocker extension just about everywhere on line, a new twist has developed in the argument that the whole idea might not be entirely legal. CNet breaks the news, with commentary from just about everyone else.

The main story is here (ITToolbox Link) as well as a ton of comments at the usual web 2.0 places, Techwag, and Rough Type to get a baseline for the process. The interesting bit about the Techwag article is that they break down the real numbers of Firefox to IE users on their web site, and makes some pretty quick percentages against the download numbers reported by Rough Type.

CNet states though:

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. Source: CNet

Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim also takes a look at the issue, an basically comes along with the idea that websites will always find a way to have a monetary channel on their web site, while subscriptions generally do not work, there is always a way to make money off the web site. Andy comes up with a way that immediately come to mind like Pay Per Post, but Pay Per Post has its own issues right now. While it is credible, there was a lot of angst at first with it, especially if people were not disclosing that this was a sponsored post. PPP has made multiple changes since then to make sure that PPP posts are identified as sponsored, and most of the controversy has gone away.

With that in mind, and the tools to discover Adblock already available, the arms race between web sites that rely on advertising and those users that want to use Adblock has just gotten started.

Right now there are no plans on anyone doing a lawsuit at this time, however, history has shown a willingness to sue to keep ad blocking software from reaching the general public. Not everyone is ready to do this, with business watching what is happening. With ad blocking programs available for just about every browser on the planet, this hot button issue is not going to go away any time soon.

Web masters, content makers, and surfers need to find the right combination of making money without being too annoying for anyone. That will be the hardest part of the whole thing, finding that middle ground.

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Is Ad Blocking Legal?
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About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer
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