New York Times: “I began reporting a column about drones and the altercations they are causing among neighbors. The way these spats usually go, one neighbor gets a new drone (often around Christmas) and begins flying it around the backyard. Then, naturally, the drone flies over to the neighbor’s yard. Then, the neighbor gets upset, especially because most recreational drones these days are equipped with cameras.”
The Telegraph: “Home insurers rush to exclude drones as Christmas sees popularity soar. Canny underwriters have foreseen the risk of drones falling into the hands of ‘amateurs, fools and children’ Home insurers are rushing to exclude drones from their policies as experts warn that even those who buy them as gifts for others could be liable for privacy and personal injury claims. Provisions to exclude “aircraft” and “remote controlled vehicles” have been hastily added to policies, as underwriters refuse to risk footing the bill of potentially huge legal bills arising from the gadgets.”
The FAA issued the following press release on December 14, 2015:
“If you own a drone, you must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry. A federal law effective December 21, 2015 requires unmanned aircraft registration, and you are subject to civil and criminal penalties if you do not register.
- Review the UAS Registration FAQs to learn more about the program.
- Read the Aircraft Registration Records System of Records Notice (PDF).
- Read the Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft Interim Final Rule (PDF).
Register before January 20, 2016 and your $5 registration fee will be refunded!
The town of Paradise Valley, Arizona, passed the first drone ordinance of any Arizona city. The city’s press release states:
“The Paradise Valley Town Council adopted an ordinance on December 3, 2015 regulating the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV or drones). The ordinance was drafted in response to resident concerns regarding public safety and privacy. The adopted regulations attempt to balance the competing interests of privacy and safety concerns with the appropriate use of UAV technology for both recreational and commercial use. The ordinance regulates three types of users: commercial, recreational, and emergency.
Commercial users must register with the Town providing identifying information about the aircraft used. Additionally, they must provide notification of the date, time, and location of each flight. Both the registration and notice of flights may be done quickly online and there is no fee to register. It is required that the Notice of Flight form be submitted at least four (4) hours prior to the commercial flight.The purpose of the online notice and registration is to allow residents who witness a UAV flying near their property to contact the Police Department to learn the purpose of the flight and the estimated end time of the flight. If residents have concerns that the UAV is operating in an unsafe manner, they may pass that information on to the police who can contact the responsible party.
A Paradise Valley property owner may use an UAV on their own property as long as such use is at a height of less than 500 feet and is not in violation of other laws or regulations. The general prohibitions and penalties include:
- Flying over private property without the owner’s permission may be considered a form of trespass
- An UAV shall not be used in a careless or reckless manner that poses an apparent or actual threat of harm danger to persons or property
- An UAV shall not be used to transmit any visual images or recordings of any person or property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy (inside a residence of an enclosed yard is a defined “privacy” area)
- Penalties for violation shall be a Class 1 Misdemeanor or punishable under the provisions of Article 1-9 of the Town Code (which suggests that initial violations be charged as a civil violation)
Emergency use is allowed by a law enforcement agency in response to an emergency situation or after obtaining a warrant based upon probable cause that criminal activity is occurring.
- “Paradise Valley becomes first town in Arizona to regulate drones”
Roll Call: “An army of small drones are heading for the national airspace this holiday season . . . . The flood of new aircraft — and new pilots — is expected as federal officials are preparing to tighten their grip on drone fliers. The Federal Aviation Administration said in October it would require registration of drones . . . . Federal rules already require commercial users to register to fly drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems. But officials, as well as representatives of the aviation industry, are worried that recreational drone users, including the pajama-clad pilots who might take their drone for a virgin flight on Christmas Day, might not understand the rules behind launching into U.S. airspace.”
CBS Pittsburgh reports that 65-year-old Marti Wlodsarsk “shot” down her neighbor’s drone with a rock. The neighbor, Mark Shock, showed the drone’s video of the incident to a judge and won damages of $600 to the $1,300 drone. The court dismissed the criminal mischief charges that had been filed against Marti.
Future Tense: “If you shoot at a drone that has strayed onto your property, more often than not you will be arrested and made to reimburse the drone’s owner. Every now and then, though, armed vigilantism pays off. For proof of this, I bring you the case of a Kentucky man named William Merideth—otherwise known as the Drone Slayer. On July 26, 2015, after his daughter reported seeing a strange drone hovering nearby, Merideth grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, stepped onto his porch, and fired at the object once it crossed over his property line.
The Volokh Conspiracy: “Scarcely a week goes by without a story in the news about drones, whether it is a Senator finding a drone peering in her window, or a small town in Colorado discussing whether to offer drone-hunting licenses (in the end they voted not to). The fear that a drone may be watching you is far from unreasonable. Today’s news, for example, is that up to 20 percent of the Border Patrol predator-drone flight hours take place in the US; meanwhile, in Miami where we both live, the police department has a fleet of drones out on patrol. This week’s arrest of a man who took a shotgun to an airborne drone is only one of the most recent warnings that we need better legal rules — and better social norms — about drone overflights, and that we need them now both to prevent harm to people and to prevent wrongful shootdowns