Issues pertaining to privacy. What operator’s and Realtor’s need to know when it comes to drone privacy.  The most prominent issue is the intent of the photography. 

  • All trespass issues have already been established by photographers and private property owners. Most noteworthy, drone photography is just another form of photography.
  • Ask for written permission from adjoining property owners. Thus, asking permission will eliminate most of your drone privacy invasion issues.  In addition, common courtesy will go a long way.  Especially relevant, privacy laws are straight forward. Thus, photographers and operators can photograph anything that they can visualize.  Yet, people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is, people who are at a location that’s not easily visible to the public.  
  • The property owner has the authority to ask you to vacate the property. But, the property owner or the law enforcement do NOT have the authority to confiscate your equipment or images. Consequently, drone operators must obey the property owner’s rules. Rather, disobeying these rules could lead to drone operator being arrested for trespassing.
  • Trespass” is defined as any intentional entry onto the property of another without consent. Hence, there must be an affirmative and intentional act.  In addition, the consent for such entry is induced by deceit or misrepresentation. Otherwise, consent would not have been given for the photography. Most of all, the plaintiff will be required to prove trespass and may pursue actual damages. Also, if the plaintiff can prove trespass, they may be able to receive punitive damages. Thus, did the trespasser act in willful or malicious disregard of the rights of the property owner.
  • A photographer may be civilly and criminally liable in trespass if he or she enters on private property without the permission of the owner to take a photograph.
  • Most of the governments have defined “a drone” as an aircraft. Thus, aircraft’s have certain rights and requirements. Same as, if a property owner shoots down a drone with a shotgun it is “illegal”.  Much as, shooting down a helicopter.
  • Fines that are handed down by governments are individuals flying drones recklessly or over densely populated cities. But if an operator fly’s a drone without government approval and accidentally injures someone or crashes into the adjoining property owners’ house. Thus, an operator may receive a fine from the government. Seems like, governments around the world are relaxing their process to obtain approval. 

Finally, the drone operator’s advisor team have an attorney on our staff. All legal consultation is specific. Thus, consult with your attorney before flying commercially. Drone legal advice should be specific to your situation.

A disclaimer: This article should not be taken as legal advice. Rather, this article merely reflects the views of its author. Please consult with an attorney to determine what, if any, legal requirements or government restrictions apply.