December 2, 2021
Shopify, an Ottawa-based e-commerce company launched in 2006 by snowboarders seeking a platform to sell equipment, is now a juggernaut with a market value reported to be at least $180 billion and 1.75 million businesses in its portfolio. On Wednesday, five major publishers sued the Canadian company, accusing it of enabling digital piracy committed by its vendors.
Filed jointly by Macmillan, Cengage, Elsevier, McGraw Hill and Pearson, the lawsuit alleges that Shopify “plays host, enabler, and protector to a world of digital textbook pirates.” The plaintiffs assert Shopify has received detailed legal notices nearly every week since 2017 identifying specific Shopify subscribers who leverage the company’s services to commit piracy.
“Shopify routinely ignores illegal activity by the identified subscribers, putting its corporate finances over its legal obligations,” the lawsuit contends. “Shopify knows that it is assisting subscribers to infringe, but it does not care.”
A spokesperson for Shopify declined to be interviewed by phone but provided a statement saying that merchants who enlist with Shopify agree to its acceptable use policy (AUP).
“Shopify’s AUP clearly outlines the activities that are not permitted on our platform,” the statement said. “We have multiple teams that handle potential AUP violations, including copyright and trademark infringement, and we don’t hesitate to action stores when found in violation.”
More than 90 percent of copyright and trademark reports made thus far in 2021 were reviewed within one business day, the Shopify spokesperson said.