Publishers Accuse Shopify of Facilitating Sale of Pirated Digital Textbooks

E-commerce solution company Shopify is under fire for allowing customers to sell pirated copies of textbooks. Plaintiffs including Macmillan Learning, McGraw Hill LLC, and Pearson Education Inc. filed suit on Wednesday, claiming that Shopify has ignored their requests and enabled online sellers to continue profiting from illegal copies, causing significant financial damage and reputational harm.

The Alexandria, Virginia lawsuit explains that Shopify Inc. offers its subscribers “a complete online business toolbox” that includes webhosting, product fulfillment, customer support, business expertise, and payment processing, among other things. The plaintiffs assert that since 2017, they have sent Shopify infringement notices and have asked for the company to step in to stop hundreds of pirate websites and many thousands of instances of copyright and trademark infringement.

Despite its public assurances that Shopify does not condone or permit the sale of pirated goods, the plaintiffs claim that it has repeatedly failed to act in response to their requests. As such, they assert that Shopify forced the lawsuit by “[b]lindly ignoring piracy in order to make more money.”

Now, they ask for relief from several counts of federal contributory copyright and trademark infringement. They also seek injunctive relief enjoining Shopify from further infringing and facilitating infringement, and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed copyright and up to $2 million for each counterfeited trademark.

The plaintiffs are represented by Oppenheim + Zebrak LLP.