Shopify settles textbook publishers' lawsuit over alleged piracy

  • Publishers accused e-commerce platform of turning 'blind eye' to IP violations
  • Shopify says it has 'robust' procedures to address infringement

(Reuters) - Shopify Inc has settled allegations by a group of major educational publishers that the Canadian e-commerce company enables piracy on its platform, according to a Tuesday filing in Virginia federal court.

The joint filing said Shopify had resolved the dispute with Macmillan Learning, Cengage Learning, Elsevier, McGraw Hill, and Pearson Education and asked the court to dismiss the case with prejudice, which means it cannot be refiled.

The publishers' attorney Matt Oppenheim of Oppenheim and Zebrak and a spokesperson for Shopify both said the case had been resolved "amicably" and that the terms of the settlement were confidential.

Shopify's spokesperson also said the company "employs robust procedures for taking down IP-infringing content" and has a "strong track record of respecting intellectual property rights."

Shopify provides services for online storefronts including web hosting, marketing services and payment processing.

The publishers sued Shopify last year, accusing it of ignoring repeat notices that its users sell pirated digital versions of their textbooks and other materials. The lawsuit said Shopify's "blind eye" to piracy allows for copyright and trademark infringement on a "massive scale."

The publishers asked the court for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed copyright and $2 million for each counterfeited trademark, and listed more than 3,400 copyrights that were allegedly violated.

Shopify responded in January that it addresses infringement notices "promptly and appropriately" and accused the publishers of trying to expand the "universe of actors subject to copyright damages."

The company said the publishers sued because they failed to convince Congress to change the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects internet hosts like Shopify from court claims if they take reasonable measures to address user infringement.

The case is Macmillan Learning v. Shopify Inc, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, No. 1:21-cv-01340.

For Shopify: Andrew Gass, Joseph Wetzel, Alli Stillman and Jessica Stebbins Bina of Latham & Watkins

For the publishers: Matt Oppenheim and Scott Zebrak of Oppenheim + Zebrak

Read more:

Textbook publishers sue Shopify over alleged 'massive' IP violations

Shopify fires back at textbook publishers, defends infringement policies

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com