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Discussion in 'News' started by Mike, Oct 1, 2014.
So the only REAL issue this article seems to have is the fact that NC now seems to have separated RC planes from RC multi rotors. Right?
I wrote about this in another thread a few days ago. The law does not apply to non-commercial use and does not distinguish between RC planes and multirotors. If, however, you get any compensation directly or indirectly from your photos/videos then you would be covered by the law. It covers "acts" from today forward but penalties won't start until Dec 1st. It requires that operators be licensed by the state and requires a test before licensing. The test will be created by the state DOT. Note "will be". The original law required the test to be created by May 2015 (I do not understand how they can have 3 different dates in the law but I'm not in the gummit) but was amended to let the DOT wait for the FAA to issue their rules. Peter Sachs of the Drone Pilots Association is of the opinion that NC, like other states, does not have jurisdiction over the skies. He also says the law is a violation of the First Amendment. I'm not a lawyer but I've read all the pertinent statutes. It seems like one of the keys here will be the definition of the word "surveillance", which is not defined in the statutes. If every picture/video of something/someone is "surveillance" then every time you take a photo/video of anything with your UAV you would be in violation of the law if you didn't obtain prior permission of what's in the field of view in your lens. Even a landscape shot of nothing in particular would create multiple violations if there were multiple landowners in the shot and you didn't have their permission. This seems pretty crazy on several levels, not the least of which is that a photo of something from the ground without permission is legal but a photo of the same something would be illegal from the air. If you stood on a mountain top and took a photo of the vista it would be legal but if you take the same photo from 6 feet off the ground with your UAV then you're a criminal. I'm sure there will be more to come.
Is there any precedent for a law like this about what you're allowed to photograph for regular manned aircraft or an individual state making laws to regulate aircraft? From what little I learned about the law as it relates to photography, laws about what you can and can't photograph and how tend to be based on whether some "reasonable expectation of privacy" is being violated. For example, taking a photo of someone on their front lawn with a "non-telephoto" lens, legal. Taking a photo of someone in their house through their window, not legal with any lens (based on the principle that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes). Taking a close-up photo of someone with a "telephoto"* lens on their front lawn especially from a long distance, not legal.
* The definition of telephoto in optics is most likely not the legal definition. My *guess* is that laws define that based on magnification relative to normal human eyesight (what someone could be expected to see with unaided vision).
(Not surprisingly you don't get much legal info in photography class, aside from copyright stuff.)
So when you're on the ground (on foot) shooting video or stills of a place and you end up with people in the footage, and sell that work you're fine.
But as soon as you strap the camera to a flying something or another, you're going to get dinged with a $5K fine for every shot?
I don't know anything about laws pertaining to standard photography/videography so I can't reliably comment on your first statement. A friend of mine who is an attorney knows I'm interested in UAVs and so he directed me to the new law and helped me find all the related statutes. As to your question, yeah, ridiculous. If in my previous example you consider that you might be using the same gopro for handheld and flying shots, filmed from the same location, height and point of view, then it seems obvious that the law isn't going to hold up as written.
Another thing I haven't checked on yet is to find out if there are any laws governing photos/videos taken from MANNED aircraft. If not then this new law would be trying to ban "acts" that can be legally performed by any other means only if a UAV is involved. Don't see how the law could stand up if there is no material difference in the outcomes.