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Shopify has a ‘textbook piracy’ issue, publishers say

Five major publishers have sued Shopify over pirated learning materials like PDFs of ebooks and test materials, claiming the e-commerce platform does not remove listings and stores that violate trademarks and rights. ‘author of the editors. The lawsuit, filed today in the United States District Court for East Virginia, seeks statutory damages in excess of $ 500 million.

The publishers – Pearson Education, Inc., Macmillan Learning, Cengage Learning, Inc., Elsevier Inc. and McGraw Hill – claim in the lawsuit that Shopify “helps and profits from the online sale of counterfeit copies” of textbooks and other products. Publishers also claim that Shopify has received “detailed notifications virtually every week for years” that identify sales listings of pirated content and related store URLs, but failed to prevent sellers from using the platform. -form.

According to publishers, Shopify continues to offer services like storefront building, web hosting, and payment processing to sellers known to list pirated content. “Shopify strengthens its business model – and its bottom line – by allowing known repeat violators to prosecute their violation,” the lawsuit alleges.

Shopify president Harley Finkelstein has previously said that if the company sees any storefronts that infringe any copyright or trademark, it gets removed. But the publishers say anyone who looks at the storefronts, including Shopify, can see they’re dedicated to selling pirated textbooks.

The publishers also claim that Shopify’s failure to control “textbook pirates” is hurting their bottom line. Illegal digital copies of textbooks are sold “at a fraction of the price of legitimate digital textbooks, thereby diminishing their perceived value and resulting in lost sales,” according to the lawsuit.

Part of the reason for textbook piracy is soaring prices for learning materials and what critics say is allowing publishers to maintain their grip on the industry. Textbook costs increased 88% between 2006 and 2016, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study. And although publishers have claimed that digital textbooks make materials more affordable, critics claim that e-books do not solve the affordability problem because access sometimes expires after a certain date, or they cannot. resell to recover costs.

Shopify did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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