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Humans of Bombay Row: Delhi High Court Closes Copyright Suit Against Rival Page

"There cannot be any monopoly in running of a storytelling platform," the court observed.

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The copyright infringement suit filed by digital storytelling platform Humans of Bombay (HOB) against rival page People of India (POI) has been decreed.

That means? The Delhi High Court ended the matter on Wednesday, 11 October, after HOB did not object to POI running its platform as long as the latter does not copy its images, according to Bar and Bench.

  • The matter was heard by Justice Prathiba M Singh.

From the bench: "In so far as individual's private photos (i.e. when people send their photos from private collection to Humans of Bombay or POI), there can be no copyright claim for either of the platforms," the court reportedly observed.

  • "There cannot be any monopoly in running of a storytelling platform. But all platforms ought to adopt their own creative expression to communicate and disseminate the said stories," Justice Singh further said.

  • "Neither party insists on any damages from the other," she noted and decreed the suit.

Why it matters: After suing POI, Humans of Bombay was called out online as the platform itself emulates Humans of New York, which told stories in that specific format first. The controversy had also raised pertinent questions about the appropriation of art as well as its over-commercialisation.

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In a nutshell: Humans of Bombay had accused POI of copying its content including its logo, tagline, and story format. It had sought damages as well as an injunction to prevent POI from using its content.

  • Amid the controversy, Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York (HoNY), which was established in 2010, took to social media to express his disappointment.

  • HOB responded to Stanton's criticism in an open letter stating that he should equip himself with "information about the case and what HOB is trying to achieve."

  • Several folks online criticised HOB. Tagging the founder, one of the users wrote on X, "@Karishma_Mehta5, this is not done. You must drop the lawsuit. If you've taken inspiration from the Humans of New York and they have been kind, you must afford the same liberty to others."

What they're saying: Welcoming the Delhi High Court order, HOB said that its suit had been about plagiarism and not inspiration.

"When the plagiarism first came to our notice, we reported it to Meta. This led to 16 of their [POI] posts, which were plagiarized from us, being taken down by Meta. However, it didn’t stop the plagiarism, even after we tried to resolve the matter amicably. We were left with no option but to lean on legal counsel," HOB founder Karishma Mehta said in a statement on Wednesday.

"If there had not been explicit plagiarism at play (where the exact content shot, written and created by us was published on another creator’s page), the Indian courts would not have been so willing to listen, let alone issue summons to the party in question," she added.

OTOH: People of India founder Drishti Saxena told The Quint, "The incident pointed out is ~1.5 years old. We had 50-70k followers back then and POI was a hobby project." "16 posts were not taken down by Meta to the best of our knowledge," she added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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