Here’s a legal question:
Do I own any of the airspace above my property? If so, how high up? If not can somebody float camera-laden drones up to first and second story windows without breaking trespassing laws? How about following a person walking on their private property or in public by hovering uncomfortably nearby their personal space? Flying over privacy fences or at an angle to peer over them?
Well, this story raised all these questions:
A remote-controlled aircraft owned by an animal rights group was reportedly shot down near Broxton Bridge Plantation Sunday.
Steve Hindi, president of SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), said his group was preparing to launch its Mikrokopter drone to video what he called a live pigeon shoot on Sunday when law enforcement officers and an attorney claiming to represent the privately-owned plantation near Ehrhardt tried to stop the aircraft from flying.
“It didn’t work; what SHARK was doing was perfectly legal,” Hindi said in a news release. “Once they knew nothing was going to stop us, the shooting stopped and the cars lined up to leave.”
He said the animal rights group decided to send the drone up anyway.
“Seconds after it hit the air, numerous shots rang out,” Hindi said in the release. “As an act of revenge for us shutting down the pigeon slaughter, they had shot down our copter.”
He claimed the shooters were “in tree cover” and “fled the scene on small motorized vehicles.”
Read the rest here.
Generally, laws permit you to film (but not always audiotape) people in public but not always where an expectation of privacy exists and certainly not via criminal trespass. If I own thirty acres, and your drone flies up to my house you have negated the value of owning so much property as to keep the public at a reasonable distance.
I can see how people might not find that acceptable and might start using strategies to discourage that. If I “accidentally” crash my drone into yours (Oops! Sorry) a court might perceive that as a risk entailed in such hobbies. I beam your craft with my DIY energy weapon and you are out $300 and can’t legally come on my property to retrieve it.
Or maybe, if I know who you are, I buy a drone and send it out after you. Or, if I have a screw or two loose or are from the shady side of the street, worse.
This could get seriously out of hand.