Market Basket ‘Climber’ spreads wings; a look at your photo rights

Motorized scooter riders going crazy at Market Basket (Photo/NOAH R. BOMBARD)

It was just one of those moments when I happened to have my iPhone in my hand. I was standing in an aisle at the Leominster Market Basket looking up ingredients for my granola recipe when I glanced up and saw two motorized scooters heading down the aisle. The two older individuals looked kind of cute in their mini motorized parade procession. So, I opened the camera app and took a shot. Then, things got a little crazy.

The older man — who was on the heavy side of heavy — dismounted his scooter. He walked over to the chips and began climbing, yes climbing, his way up shelving to try to grab a bag of chips off the top shelf. His inability to navigate the store aisles on his own two feet failed to inhibit his stout mountain climbing skills as he stepped off the bottom shelf and — using his hands — pulled himself up to reach the top shelf.

I’ve heard of journalists who have been in situations like this before — the car crash you come upon with the passenger who needs help. Do you follow your instincts and document what’s unfolding before you? Or do you throw down your virtual notepad and lend a hand. Naturally, I just took a picture.

That was back on Aug. 1. I tweeted it and went back to shopping (the man successfully acquired his chips without incident).

Last week I saw a post in my Facebook news feed from a friend linking to a site called People of Market Basket. I clicked on it. There was my photo with a “People of Market Basket” logo on it. But there was more. There were other photos — many other photos. Photos of my “climber” on the Titanic, bull fighting, on the moon. There’s even a whack-a-mole type web game. There’s an entire section on the site labeled “King Climb” with various homages to my photo.

The ‘climber’ had sprouted wings.

Your rights to your photos

Social media has created a vast river of sharing of ideas, information and photos. That river has practically obliterated intellectual property rights like a tidal wave against a solitary sandbag (remember Napster?). Granted, my photo leaned more toward the “rights” than the “intellectual” part of that phrase, but regardless, when you take a photo, whether you are a professional or just some schmo with your camera phone, you own it.

In this case, the issue was easily rectified. When contacted, the owner of the website was more than happy to add my credit to the original photo and I granted him the right to alter it, which I don’t usually do, because, well, some of those photos were pretty damn funny. I sensed no nefarious motives on the part of the website owner. From my original tweet, the photo had been shuffled around the web until he saw it, thought it was funny and went from there. But the situation does illustrate a problem with maintaining control of the photos you shoot (and own).

Of course, you also have the right to grant others the right to use your photos and there are ways to use the web to find those photos. I’m a regular visitor to Flickr’s Creative Commons page, where photographers have posted photos that they’ve OK’d others to use, with varying degrees of permissions. It’s a great source to mine when you’re looking for a photo to illustrate a story and you don’t have one of your own. I’ve used it in this blog regularly and for various online publications. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not OK to simply find a photo on the web and credit the source. You need permission. Of course, there are fair use allowances in some cases for photos with news value, but I won’t get into that here.

Here’s some people who can give you the low down on photo rights better than I can:

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  • http://www.BehindTheHeadlinesBlog.com Noah R. Bombard

    Also, I’ll add that personally I love my Leominster Market Basket. Other than the fact that it’s absolutely mobbed on most days, it’s got great bakery and produce departments and a fair amount of organic and health foods. And the prices are excellent. The aisles are very narrow, which lends to the crowding problem, but I’ve learned what days are leaner and try to adjust my shopping accordingly. 

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