Copyright Infringement Lawsuit: Humans of Bombay vs. People of India

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In a recent legal battle, Humans of Bombay (HoB) has filed a lawsuit against People of India (PoI), alleging copyright infringement. HoB, a well-known social media platform founded in 2014, has accused PoI of replicating its business model and infringing upon its intellectual property rights. This legal dispute has raised important questions about the protection of business models and the copyright of narrated stories.

Allegations by Humans of Bombay

HoB’s lawsuit alleges that PoI not only copied its business model but also approached the same individuals featured on its website, essentially recreating an imitation platform. HoB further claims that PoI replicated its content, logo, tagline, and the format used for their stories. The lawsuit seeks damages and an injunction to prevent PoI from using HoB’s content.

Protection of Business Models in IP Law

Business models, as a standalone concept, are generally not protected under intellectual property (IP) law in India. Unless a business model involves a patentable technological advancement, it does not receive IP protection. In the case of HoB’s open social media platform business model, seeking exclusivity over it may be difficult to argue, especially considering the argument that HoB itself may have been inspired by Humans of New York. Thus, the protection of a business model becomes a contentious issue.

Copyright Protection for Narrated Stories

The lawsuit also raises questions about the copyright protection of narrated stories. In India, the law recognizes the sweat of the brow doctrine, placing greater emphasis on the effort and labor put into creating a work rather than the originality of the work itself. When an individual narrates a story that is then written by someone else, the resulting written version often takes a new form, reflecting the natural human tendency for variation.

In this context, if the same individuals retell a story to PoI, which was earlier narrated to HoB, there may be a limited possibility of copyright infringement unless the story has been directly copied from HoB’s platform. The law of copyright in India acknowledges the transformative nature of creative works, and exact replication is necessary for an infringement claim.

Pending Court Decision

While this legal dispute unfolds, it is important to recognize the complexities of intellectual property law, especially concerning business models and narrated stories. The decision of the court and its rationale will shed light on the extent to which business models and narrated stories are protected under Indian copyright law. This case serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges in protecting intellectual property in the digital age and the need for clarity in legal interpretations regarding creative works and business practices.