Coddington, Hicks & Danforth

Three things to know about drones

Drones are a new kind of aircraft known as a small Unmanned Aircraft System or sUAS. Along with this new type of aircraft, new rules and laws are just starting to find their way through the government and legal system.

Many questions have already arisen about the legitimate and legal uses of drones, as well as the moral questions that accompany their use.

Who makes the laws?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) creates the rules and regulations that govern this new frontier of aircraft. Additionally, the California Legislature has spelled out its own laws governing use of drones in California airspace.

Who owns the air?

One big question arising with drones is who owns the air. Are people allowed to fly their drones anywhere? When does the operation of a drone become invasion of privacy?

According to the California legislature, the invasion of privacy occurs when someone "knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land of another person without permission or otherwise commits a trespass" and if they do so in order to take pictures or video of people.

If the pictures or video are deemed offensive by reasonable person standards, the drone operator could be liable for an invasion of privacy. Others have argued that homeowners should only own the air 500 feet above their homes.

How many drones are out there?

By 2020, the FAA predicts sales of drones will reach 7 million, which means there will be many more drones using the airspace. Some positive and negative uses of drones are already known; however, no one can predict all of the ways these new machines might be used in the future. Therefore, laws will need to develop over time as the use of drones expands.

What experiences have you had with drones?

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