Re: Sensible ruling
@Trevor_Pott: "I wonder if it can serve as precedent to prevent Google turning our searches over?"
No. Compliance with search warrants, and court orders is a different matter. Google was handing over search data to comply with search warrants. If they didn't, they would be fined, or their officers would be in jail now. Compliance with a request state taxation official, is rather different. Don't they tech Civics in school anymore?
@Penguin herder: "I hope anyone thinking of moving their family and/or business to North Carolina will think twice based on this. Kudos to Amazon for standing up to them!"
I think people will think twice, but not for the reason you think. If the state is unable to tax purchases made from out of state entities, then the businesses actually in the state need to pay more. Rather than kudos, it sucks to be North Carolina. So much for roads, schools, bridges, police, or sewers. So definitely don't move there. Not only will you have to make the difference for the freeloaders, their infrastructure sucks too.
The state tax system in the US is broken. All 50 states should agree to implement the same state tax system. A state tax treaty. The current system is a huge barrier to running a small-medium business in the US. Especially as more commerce moves online. Initially, it will be a lot of kudos, as businesses avoid tax (tax evasion is illegal, tax avoidance is not), but someone has to pay for all of the crap that you use every day. The current system was created, when small businesses would do business with a single state, or open offices in each additional state. Now that you can sell complete virtual products or services to anyone anywhere, taxes get messy.