eyeo, developer of best-in-class ad-filtering technology used by millions around the world across several browsers and products, has won Axel Springer's recent appeal in a case arguing whether HTML can be subject to copyright enforcement.
By winning this case, eyeo strengthens its commitment to maintaining an open, fair and prosperous internet for everyone.
Why does this affect the majority of internet users and creators:
This was Axel Springer's most recent attempt to win a case arguing that HTML is a programming language and ad-blocking technologies: "change the programming code of websites thus directly accessing the legally protected offer of publishers"(source).
In a scenario where the copyright claim has been declared legal and enforceable, any internet user using browser extensions or features that modify HTML would be automatically deemed infringing on copyright law and subject to a cease and desist letter. This would affect, for example, anti-tracking tools, "no pictures" options or extensions that change a website’s background colors for color-blind people, or simply fun extensions that hide spoilers in online text. The same applies to any developer or company that builds browser extensions or even browsers themselves, who could be liable to pay damages (retroactively for the past several years) for any lost revenues claimed by a website owner.
Arguably, this ruling sets an important legal precedent not only for eyeo but also for user rights and the internet at large. It's a testament to the value of collaborative standards, innovation without hindrance, and the empowerment of individuals in the digital realm.