The Trolling Of Humans Of Bombay Was Imminent. But Here’s Why Their Case Against People Of India Is Valid

HOB vs POI controversy explained!

Humans of Bombay, People of India and Humans of New York have been making headlines for some wrong and some right reasons. ICYMI, Humans of Bombay (HOB), led by Karishma Mehta filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against People of India (POI), founded by Drishit Saxena. Now what makes this case interesting is the fact that the storytelling concept of HOB is inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York.

After Humans of Bombay sued People of India for copying its “unique” storytelling format, and literary works as well as for unlicensed adaption and appropriation of its films and other works, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the People of India. Amid all this, Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton took to X to call out HOB for appropriation of his work as it tells important stories. However, he also shared that he’s not comfortable with how they have monetized the concept while highlighting how they cannot sue people for something he has forgiven them for.


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Why Internet Attacked HOB for Suing POI?

As Brandon made his stance on the matter clear, internet users started attacking Humans of Bombay and Karishma Mehta for suing People of India for copying a concept that they themselves have copied from Humans of New York. Amid the controversy, internet users attacked HOB and Karishma Mehta for monetizing people’s stories and sharing propaganda-driven stories. Several people came out to share how the storytelling Instagram handle has been sharing stories which are being paid for by organisations.

Many called the story on PM Modi shared by the platform as propaganda while people came out with first-hand accounts of how the platform shared their rate-card when they reached out to them for a story. Many even revealed how their stories were rejected by the platform because they refused to share a sensationalized version of their stories.

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But Is HOB’s Case Against POI Valid?

The answer is yes, it is. After Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York called out their work, Humans of Bombay issued a clarification that the lawsuit against People of India is their attempt to protect their intellectual property while requesting a conversation with the Humans of NY founder.

The storytelling platform led by Karishma Mehta also shared snippets from their lawsuit highlighting how People of India is sharing identical content and approaching the same people as them for their stories thereby passing off HOB’s content as their own. The case papers shared by HOB also include screenshots of identical stories shared by the platform.

How Is POI Copying HOB’s Content?

From an ethical point of view, it’s not right for Humans of Bombay to sue People of India for doing the same thing as them when their own storytelling style is inspired by Humans of New York. However, the copyright infringement case filed by the platform does have legal standing, not because POI was inspired by their storytelling style but rather because the platform is lifting their stories and creating videos identical to HOB.

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For example, if someone creates a video and shares it on social media, they automatically have the copyright to the content shared by them. Anyone who uses that video without crediting the original owner or without seeking the owner’s permission is essentially passing it off as their own content which is a copyright infringement. If someone were to imitate the concept and use the exact same elements as the ones in the original content and pass it off as their own, it would still be copyright infringement. In other words, POI could be passing off HOB’s content as their own which is plagiarised.

In this case, POI approached the exact same people as HOB and allegedly recreated the concept which amounts to imitation and creating identical content. The same was noted by Delhi High Court’s Justice Prathiba Singh while issuing summons to People of India. FYI, the next hearing of the case is scheduled for October 11.

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Janvi Manchanda

​​She uses her pen to slice through patriarchy. She could be Geet one day, Wednesday Addams next. Writing is the bane of her existence and the object of all her desires!

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