The founder of popular blog Humans of New York on Monday said that art loses its purpose if it begins with a motive to earn profit.
The remarks by Brandon Stanton come amid a controversy over the Humans of Bombay copyright infringement suit against an Instagram handle called People of India.
“For the last thirteen years I haven’t received a penny for a single story told on Humans of New York, despite many millions offered,” Brandon Stanton wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “All my income has come from books of my work, speeches I have given and Patreon.”
He said that he welcomes anyone using the “Humans of” format to express something something true and beautiful about their community. “I do not identify with anyone who is using it for the sake of creating a certain lifestyle for themselves,” Stanton wrote.
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 its suit filed in the Delhi High Court, Humans of Bombay sought to restrain People of India from appropriating what it claimed was its “unique format of storytelling”. It claimed that People of India has completely replicated the stories and the business model of Humans of Bombay.
On Sunday, Brandon had chided Humans of Bombay over the lawsuit, saying, “you can’t be suing people for what I’ve forgiven you for.”
In response, Humans of Bombay had said that Stanton “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 protect our intellectual property is made in this manner, especially without understanding the background of the case,” their statement read.