Textbook publishers sue Shopify over alleged 'massive' IP violations

The logo of Shopify is seen outside its headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
  • Shopify accused of turning blind eye to pirated ebooks
  • Major publishers ask for millions in damages
  • Shopify says it clearly prohibits, punishes infringers

(Reuters) - Major educational publishers on Wednesday accused e-commerce company Shopify of enabling rampant piracy in a lawsuit filed in Virginia federal court.

Macmillan Learning, Cengage Learning Inc, Elsevier Inc, McGraw Hill LLC and Pearson Education Inc said Canada-based Shopify turned a blind eye to repeat notices that its users sell pirated digital textbooks and other materials, allowing 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 users allegedly violated.

Shopify provides a range of services for online storefronts including web hosting, product management, marketing services and payment processing.

A Shopify spokesperson said in a statement that the company's policies clearly prohibit merchants from infringing IP rights, and that it doesn't hesitate to punish infringers. The spokesperson said the platform has reviewed over 90% of copyright and trademark reports from this year within one business day.

The complaint said Shopify gives "lip service" to IP protection while profiting from infringement.

The publishers' are represented by Matthew Oppenheim of Oppenheim & Zebrak. The firm has also represented music labels and publishers in a $1 billion copyright case against internet service provider Cox Communications Inc and represents major book publishers in a copyright dispute with the Internet Archive.

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

For the publishers: Matthew Oppenheim and Scott Zebrak of Oppenheim & Zebrak.

For Shopify: not available

Read more:

Cox to pay $1 bln to music labels, publishers over piracy infringement

Book publishers sue over 'emergency' online library set up during pandemic

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

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