Illegal to Fly Over My Neighbor's Back Yard?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pdmike, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    California Civil Code, 1708.8:

    (a) A person is liable for physical invasion of privacy when the person knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land of another person without permission or otherwise commits a trespass in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity and the invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.

    (b) A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the person attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity, through the use of any device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the device was used.

    It is not a defense to a violation of this section that no image, recording, or physical impression was captured or sold.

    Now, I have read a lot of rules and regulations regarding where you can and cannot fly a quad in California, and nowhere have I see it stated that you cannot fly a quad over someone else's property. In fact, it always was my understanding that a homeowner owns the land his house sits on, but not the airspace above it.

    So WTF? Does anyone have any experience with this particular (apparent) law in California or a similar law in any other state?
     
  2. Rick M

    Rick M Absent-minded professor

    This was passed as a sort of futile gesture to please an angry constituent a while back. As you probably already know as an attorney, there is a big difference between a tort and a crime. This isn't a criminal statute. As far as I can determine, no civil action has been brought under this statute so far in California. If and when it does, any smart attorney acting for the defense will cite 49 USC 40103, which states in part:

    "The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States."

    In short, they legislated in an area where they have no authority to legislate.
     
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  3. John Scott

    John Scott Member

    I think common sense probably applies here. We have had some similar issues in NY. Does my neighbor farmer mind if I fly over his corn field and cow pastures ? Probably not as he has seen me flying it from my property and never said a word. Would he care if I was flying in his back yard taking pics and video of his wife or teenage daughter at their pool sunbathing ? I would say yes and expect my drone to be shot down with a shotgun blast ! People in NY have a right and expectation to privacy on their property and one could be charged with harassment and trespassing if your doing stupid stuff. Now if you go to a public beach and take video and pics on the beach of girls it is completely legal as it is a public place and there is no expectation of privacy as it is a public area. My best advice to you is not do things you would not like done to yourself and family. Private property is private property and public property is public. Get along with your neighbors and do not do stupid or annoying stuff under the guise of free airspace because you will be the loser in the eyes of the law. It's all fun and games until your in handcuffs standing in front of a judge posting bail to stay out of jail. There have been drones shot down and pilots arrested here because they had no respect for property owners right to privacy. A jet flying over head at 30,000 feet is not the same as a quad hovering in your yard invading your right to privacy and harassing you. They are two very different airspace's. Hope that helps you out.
     
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  4. Spork

    Spork Well-Known Member

    It does seem a bit confusing.

    My input on the subject is this video from a guy (professional videographer, 107 licensed, etc) who was investigated by the FAA because someone complained to the FAA hotline that he was flying illegally over private property. The FAA's take on this was as long as you take off and land on public property (or your own) then there is no problem with flying over private property - assuming you're following all other regulations. Having said that, I agree with @John Scott on respecting your neighbors being more important than what I'm legally allowed to do. I would err on the side of caution and try to ask someone for permission if I thought there would be a problem.

    The video mentioned above is here:


    From the FAA (https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=20516):
    Respecting Privacy
    Although the new rule does not specifically deal with privacy issues in the use of drones, and the FAA does not regulate how UAS gather data on people or property, the FAA is acting to address privacy considerations in this area. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography.

    As part of a privacy education campaign, the agency will provide all drone users with recommended privacy guidelines as part of the UAS registration process and through the FAA’s B4UFly mobile app. The FAA also will educate all commercial drone pilots on privacy during their pilot certification process; and will issue new guidance to local and state governments on drone privacy issues. The FAA’s effort builds on the privacy “best practices” (PDF) the National Telecommunications and Information Administration published last month as the result of a year-long outreach initiative with privacy advocates and industry.
     
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  5. John Scott

    John Scott Member


    Well said, The guise of free air space on spying on neighbors and taking pictures or video on private property is going to come to an end at least here in NY. I predict that free airspace altitude on drones will change in consideration of what is free airspace .
    Free airspace is a farce and does not give a operator free reign to harass , annoy or violate the expectation of privacy that we have in NY.
    I'm still waiting for my first shoot down. :)
     
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  6. Rick M

    Rick M Absent-minded professor

    I agree that common sense and common courtesy have to apply here. If someone is hovering 30 feet over his neighbor's backyard pool, he should expect well-justified outrage. My point was that the California legislature regulated something they have no regulatory authority over. The Golden Rule should always apply. The more reasonable and courteous we are, the less knee-jerk legislation we will see.
     
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  7. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

    Just imagine a 50m bubble around the quad. Or a person or house. No one should be hovering over some house less than that. Or you are intruding or invasion of privacy. I don't use cameras @my local park. Just fpv. Then when someone bangs on i explain I can't see if I'm hovering. Because the camera angle.
     
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  8. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

    Sometimes I take the time to explain the ins & outs, if I got spare goggles, let em rude along even give them a go.
    Some ppl just are not willing to listen & others just shout obscenity @ you.
    It's then @ this point I get put my gear away except my camera which is rolling & then catch up with the ¥§÷¿#* & have it out. I explained the rules to a guy one day, so he called the cops on me because everytime I moved he was trolling me, but said i was flying within 50m of me. nothing come of it but he made a beeline for me everytime. I'm not a weirdo but I put my stuff away this day & made it clear I was following him to his house. Sad I know but I don't get hassled off him anymore.
    Or pretty much anyone. Ppl in the area know I'm legit.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
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  9. RENOV8R

    RENOV8R Well-Known Member

    This doesn't really come into play here in Canada as we're heavily restricted including:
    No closer than 75M from any structure, person or animal
    No higher than 90M
    LOS only with max distance of 500M
    No night flying
    No flying above clouds regardless of height

    I try to adhere to these regs as best I can, but I have been known to do quick test hovers in my backyard.
     
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  10. GJH105775

    GJH105775 Avid Linux User, and U.S. Air Force 1C6 Moderator

    The state can limit what you do while standing in California but don't have control over the airspace. So if you are not standing in the state you only need to consider FAA regulations.

    Solution 1: Get a hot air balloon and hover 10' off the ground while flying your quadcopter.
    Solution 2: Stand in Nevada and fly in California with some long range gear you can get pretty far into the state.
    Solution 3: Use some common sense, and explain your side when possible. If not possible pack up and go somewhere else unless you need to be there.
     
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  11. RENOV8R

    RENOV8R Well-Known Member

    I've always wanted a hot air balloon! But until I get one, I guess I'll just continue to use common sense
     
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  12. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

    This is the park I fly, there is another 4 football pitches below. This on about 30 acres. VideoToPhoto 636076716577968486-1024x576.png all the space & some ppl want to spoil it.
     
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  13. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    I do know the difference between a tort and a crime, of course, but have to admit, in this case, I overlooked that difference. No criminal sanctions are mentioned anywhere in this Civil Code section. I am embarrassed. :oops:
     
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  14. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

     
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  15. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    Excellent counsel, John. Early on, I learned to be very careful about where and when I fly my quad. If I think there is the slightest chance someone is going to hassle me, I simply move on.
     
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  16. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

    Anyway there is easier ways to spy on the neighbours. o_O
     
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  17. mozquito1

    mozquito1 Well-Known Member

    Jokin:p
     
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  18. pdmike

    pdmike Extremely Popular Member

    It confused me at first too. Here is what I think he's saying: the state can regulate what you do while standing on the ground, but not while YOU (not your quad) are in the air. So, in order to avoid this Civil Code section, all you have to do is somehow fly your quad from a position where you are elevated a short distance into the air, and then you escape the statute. If the terms of your probation allow it, go to a park and sit in a swing. Keeping your feet off the ground at all times, fly your quad anywhere you want with regard to other people's back yards.

    He's just fooling around here, obviously and, thanks to my co-counsel's analysis, it doesn't mean anything anyway. As Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say, "Never mind."

     
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  19. KentA

    KentA Well-Known Member

    Look at all those bedroom windows!
     
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  20. Spork

    Spork Well-Known Member

    I'm getting my shotgun, I'll bet Moz is spying on ALL of them!
     
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