This article on ‘Humans of Bombay vs. People of India: All you should know’ was written by Chelsi Antil, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Petitioner: Humans of Bombay
Respondent: People of India
Court: Delhi High Court
Next Hearing Date: 11 October 2023
Petitioner Counsel: Advocate Abhishek Malhotra
Bench: Justice Pratibha Singh
Intellectual property rights are the legal rights that are provided to protect the creation of the mind of the creator, like designs, music, paintings, sounds, books, scripts, etc. Intellectual property rights are in intangible form, i.e., copyright. Copyright is the right that is provided to creators and makers to protect their intellectual property, which is the creation of their minds. Copyright protects the creation of the creator and artist from being copied by others without their permission or if they get copied by others. Then, the owner of the work has the right to sue for infringement against the person who copies his or her work.
In this case of Humans of Bombay vs. People of India, we are going to analyse the copyright infringement that is done by the People of India against the Humans of Bombay.
Facts of the Case
The petitioner has an Instagram account called Humans of Bombay, which has nearly 2.7 million followers. The petitioner is a storytelling Instagram account that uploads the work of people on Instagram in the form of a story by recording audio or video of their work. On the other hand, the respondent, People of India, has nearly 1.5 million followers on Instagram. The respondent also works as a storytelling platform on Instagram.
The petitioner claims that the respondent, “People of India,” used his work without his permission in their name. The respondent has uploaded many photographs, images, and other work from the petitioner’s account. Therefore, the petitioner “Human of Bombay” filed a suit against the respondent “People of India” for copyright infringement and asked the Delhi High Court to pass an order against the respondent to delete all the photos, images, or other work of the petitioner “Humans of Bombay” used directly or indirectly by the respondent “People of India”.
Issue of the Case
Whether the People of India (POI) has committed ‘copyright infringement’ and ‘Passing off’ against the Humans of Bombay (HOB)?
The last Order passed by the Delhi High Court
In this case, the Court observed that the respondent, “People of India” has used some of the petitioner’s work directly or indirectly in his name. The court found “substantial imitation” of “Human of Bombay” work in the work of “People of India”. The Court also found some similarity in the photographs or images uploaded on the two digital platforms. The order was passed on an application for interim relief filed by the petitioner seeking to stop the People of India from appropriating the former’s “unique format of storytelling” and publishing the same stories on its platform.
Now, the Court has issued a notice against the respondent “People of India” and listed the case for further hearing on October 11, 2023, and it will consider HOB’s interim application for ad-interim relief or temporary relief.
“Substantial imitation” means when someone copies the substance of the work of another person without his permission. However, the person does not copy the whole work of the author.
“Passing off” means when the work of two people is so identical that the other people are not able to recognise it. Because of the similarity in their work. Through passing off, the people try to cheat the people and attempt to earn economic benefit that does not belong to them.
Legal Provisions in the Case
Section 51 of the Copyright Act of 1957 involved in this case describes infringement, which means unapproved or unlawful use of the work of the author or creator without his permission which is protected under the copyright act. So, copyrighted work that is regenerated, publicly shown, distributed, or performed without the permission of the owner of the work is an infringement of the copyright of that work.
Section 63 of the Copyright Act of 1957 talks about penalties in cases of infringement of copyright. The person who knowingly or intentionally infringes or abets the infringement of the copyright of the work of the author shall be punishable:
- With the imprisonment of 6 months, which may extend to 3 years.
- And with the fine of Rs.50,000,- which may extend to 2 lakhs.
- If the infringement has not been made for the gain in the course of trade and business, then the court may grant imprisonment of less than 6 months or a fine of less than Rs. 50,000/-. However, the special reason will be recorded in the judgement by the court.
This case concluded that copyright is the right that is given to the maker of the work to protect his creation of mind from being copied by others without his permission. Usually, people try to copy the substance of a work instead of the entire work, which looks identical, and people are not able to identify that work easily. In that case, the aggrieved party should approach the court as soon as possible. So that we can stop people from copying another person’s work without the permission of the maker, creator, or author.
List of references
- The Copyright Act, 1957 (Act 14 of 1957), ss. 51 & 63
- Nupur Thapiyal, ‘Delhi High Court Issues Summons To ‘People Of India’ Portal In Copyright Infringement Suit By Humans Of Bombay’, LiveLaw, 20 September 2023, available at: https://www.livelaw.in/high-court/delhi-high-court/delhi-high-court-summons-copyright-infringement-suit-humans-of-bombay-people-of-india-portal-238235#:~:text=The%20suit%20alleges%20that%20the%20portal%20People%20of%20India%20has,business%20model%2C%20including%20the%20stories.
- Khadija Khan, ‘Humans of Bombay vs People of India: What is copyright infringement and when does it apply?’, The Indian Express, 26 September 2023, available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-law/humans-of-bombay-vs-people-of-india-case-explained-8957397/