Shopify Inc. SHOP-T says it has taken down the vast majority of content that five textbook publishers say is pirated and infringes on their trademarks.
The Ottawa-based e-commerce company says less than two per cent of merchants who have been targeted with takedown requests from Macmillan Learning, Cengage Learning Inc., Elsevier Inc., McGraw Hill LLC and Pearson Education Inc. remain active on the Shopify platform.
Shopify revealed the information in documents filed this week in a Virginia court, where it is being sued by the publishers for allegedly hosting merchants who illegally reproduce and sell the publishers’ textbooks, test banks and other manuals.
The company said it denies all of the publishers’ claims, did not cause them harms, losses or damages and feels the case against it will fail because it has acted on takedown requests.
“Contrary to plaintiffs’ false allegations in their complaint, Shopify has swiftly responded to plaintiffs’ notices of infringement, taken down vast quantities of allegedly infringing materials, and terminated repeat bad actors,” Shopify said in its response.
“This has been no small feat.”
The company said it has counted more than 5,000 takedown requests or trademark infringement notices the publishers have filed under the U.S.’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Shopify has reviewed more than 50,000 unique URLs involving more than 1,750 merchants submitted by the publishers between October 2018 and January 2022.
Shopify claimed more than 90 per cent of the URLs have been removed, 95 per cent were taken down within five business days and more than two-thirds took place within one business day.
“In a small fraction of instances, plaintiffs’ takedown requests have been incomplete and have not contained the appropriate information that would enable Shopify to act,” the company said.
“In the majority of those cases, Shopify has reached out to plaintiffs to request additional information, but has often been met with resistance or silence.”
When asked for comment on the matter, Shopify spokesperson Rebecca Feigelsohn said in an email to The Canadian Press, “we don’t have anything to add beyond our filing on the lawsuit.”
The publishers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
They are seeking damages including up to US$150,000 per infringed copyright and US$2 million per counterfeited trademark.
The publishers allege in their lawsuit that Shopify “shirks obligations” even after learning about copyright and trademark infringements by continuing to let these users access the company’s offerings and providing them with “anonymity, a false veneer of legitimacy, and a safe haven from which to break the law.”
In its court filing, Shopify argued that the case is better suited to go before Congress, which Shopify said has precluded suits for monetary damages against companies that host the infrastructure infringers might use.
“Shopify regrets that, under these circumstances, the plaintiffs have burdened the court with this lawsuit,” the company said.
“While no defendant ever relishes the prospect of litigation, Shopify does look forward to the opportunity to letting the true facts be known, and to vindicate its reputation as a responsible and trusted actor in the complex ecosystem of digital commerce.”
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