The founder of popular blog Humans of New York on Saturday chided Humans of Bombay for filing a copyright infringement suit against an Instagram handle called People of India.
“I’ve stayed quiet on the appropriation of my work because I think Humans Of Bombay shares important stories, even if they’ve monetised far past anything I’d feel comfortable doing on HONY,” Brandon Stanton wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “But you can’t be suing people for what I’ve forgiven you for.”
In 2010, Stanton created the Humans of New York blog, taking a “photographic census” of New York City. His photos and short stories about his subjects gradually became an internet sensation, drawing millions of followers on social media and a few book deals.
Humans of Bombay was started in 2014 by Karishma Mehta, an economics and business graduate from a British university. It offers clients the opportunity to be featured on its posts in return for a fee.
In January 2019, months before the Lok Sabha elections, Humans of Bombay published a five-part interview of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he spoke about his childhood, his family and his ascent to power, among other things. The posts went viral but many social media users criticised Humans of Bombay for spreading propaganda for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
In its suit filed in the Delhi High Court that received news coverage on Saturday, Humans of Bombay sought to restrain People of India from appropriating what it claimed was its “unique format of storytelling”, The Indian Express reported.
The suit claimed that People of India has completely replicated the stories and the business model of Humans of Bombay.
“The defendants have, evidently, knowingly and deliberately, published content that is identical or substantially similar to the popular content comprised of plaintiffs works in an attempt to ride on goodwill that has been painstakingly built by the plaintiff,” the plea read.
‘Our intellectual property’
In a statement on Saturday, responding to Stanton’s tweet, Humans of Bombay said he “ought to have equipped” himself with information about the case and what the project aims to achieve before making those comments.
“It’s therefore shocking that a cryptic assault on our efforts to project our intellectual property is made in this manner, especially without understanding the background of the case,” the statement read.
Humans of Bombay, the statement said, is “all for the power of storytelling” that should be done honestly and ethically.
In another post, Humans of Bombay said it is grateful to Brandon for “starting this storytelling movement”.
Justice Prathiba Singh of the Delhi High Court on September 18 issued summons to People of India and listed the case for hearing on October 11.