Amazon Not Liable for Affiliate Copyright Violations

Amazon cannot be held liable when its affiliate marketing program participants use copyrighted photographs on their websites to sell products through the online store, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in a non-precedential memorandum issued Friday that the company cannot be vicariously liable if its third-party marketing participants used copyrighted photographs of Sandy Routt on their websites without Routt’s permission.

Routt lost her appear claiming Amazon should be held liable for the conduct of its associates.

She argued that Amazon’s associate agreement prohibits copyright infringement and that the giant online store has the right to monitor associate’s websites, thus the company should be held to account if its associates violate copyrights.

The appeals court pointed to a prior case involving Google’s AdSense affiliate program that while Google could terminate its AdSense relationship with groups that violated copyrights, there was no evidence that Google could force the sites to remove the protected material.

The panel held that Routt’s case against Amazon was no different.

Case: Routt v. Inc., No. 13-35237


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