Founder of popular photo blog Humans of New York Brandon Stanton has called out an Indian version of his page Humans of Bombay amid a copyright row — accusing it of appropriating his own work first.
Photographer Stanton founded Humans of New York — which features portraits of New Yorkers alongside quotes or short stories about their lives — in 2010.
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. https://t.co/0jZM05YyTt
— Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) September 23, 2023
Humans of New York quickly became an online sensation and now has over 12.8 million followers of Instagram.
Meanwhile, Humans of Bombay was launched by founder Karishma Mehta four years later in 2014 and has since amassed some 3.2 million followers. Like Humans of New York, it similarly features portraits of individuals accompanied by quotes and stories about them.
However, Humans of Bombay has now filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against another page called People of India.
The lawsuit, filed in the Delhi High Court, claims People of India replicated the business model of Humans of Bombay and passed off its material as their own.
In its lawsuit, Humans of Bombay alleges that People of India has “replicated a large number of images and videos” from its platform. It also seeks to restrain the page from appropriating what it claimed was its “unique format of storytelling.”
‘I’ve Stayed Quiet on The Appropriation of My Work’
Now Humans of New York founder Stanton has called out Humans of Bombay for taking legal action against another storytelling platform. He has also accused them of copying his own original concept.
“I’ve stayed quiet on the appropriation of my work because I think Humans Of Bombay shares important stories, even if they’ve monetized far past anything I’d feel comfortable doing on Humans of New York,” Stanton says in a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Saturday.
“But you can’t be suing people for what I’ve forgiven you for.”
— Humans Of Bombay (@HumansOfBombay) September 23, 2023
Humans of Bombay responded to Stanton’s statement, saying it was shocked at the “cryptic assault” on its effort to protect its intellectual property without understanding the background of the case. It added that Stanton “ought to have equipped” himself with information before commenting.
Was just asked for comment by The Washington Post regarding a certain court case involving my work, but which thankfully doesn't involve me. I thought it would be worthwhile to share the statement here. For an example of a true artist who has done beautiful things with the… pic.twitter.com/y6Xvz8EGSx
— Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) September 26, 2023
In a further comment posted on X on Monday, Stanton claima that he had not profited from a single story told on Humans of New York, stating that “when art begins with a profit motive, it ceases to become art.”
Image credits: Header photos via Wikimedia Commons.