• Friday, December 01, 2023


Copyright row in India sparks social media storm after Brandon Stanton comment

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

A COPYRIGHT infringement case between two Indian photoblogs has caught public attention after Humans of New York founder Brandon Stanton slammed the “profit motive” behind the art of storytelling.

Humans of Bombay (HOB), launched in Mumbai in 2014, has sued its rival People of India, claiming infringement of intellectual property rights for using an “identical portal/service”.

HOB, started by Karishma Mehta, produced screenshots of People of India in the Delhi High Court, saying its rival “replicated a large number of images and videos” from its platform.

But as HOB itself follows a format similar to Humans of New York which was launched in 2010, the court case sparked a social media storm.

Apparently criticising HOB founder Karishma Mehta, Stanton said in a post on the platform X on Saturday (23), “I’ve stayed quiet on the appropriation of my work because I think @HumansOfBombay shares important stories, even if they’ve monetized far past anything I’d feel comfortable doing on HONY, but you can’t be suing people for what I’ve forgiven you for.”

In a follow up post on Tuesday (26), he also pointed out how HOB contrasted with his photoblog.

“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.… Beautiful art can make money, there is nothing wrong with that. But when art begins with a profit motive, it ceases to become art. And it becomes a Product.”

But HOB, which has 2.7 million followers on Instagram, hit back at Stanton’s “cryptic assault” on its efforts to protect its intellectual property rights.

“Perhaps, before jumping the gun on this matter, you ought to have equipped yourself with information about the case,” it said on X.

“HOB is all for the power of storytelling. But it should be done honestly and ethically.”

People of India, founded by Drishti Saxena, has not publicly responded to the controversy.

Since its inception in 2019, People of India has garnered more than two million followers on social media.


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