When Drones Get into Trouble

Last year in August, a DJI Phantom drone belonging to photographer and media activist Tom Zebra, was confiscated by Hollywood police shortly after he filmed a US Navy ship. In his account, (where a video is also shown) Zebra expresses dismay over the lack of “due process” afforded him by the law enforcement:
Due Process is a citing officer who smiles as “he does what he is told.”
Due process is a chief who sits on his ass and gives orders that were told to him by someone from the Navy…passes the orders on to his “drones” that blindly do what they are told.
Due process is a Navy that invites the neighborhood out to record their ship, then steals a camera from their guest without warning.
Did the Navy want me to come and take pictures or didn’t they?
What happened to first amendment?
Not in parks or parking lots? Shouldn’t it apply there the most? Where exactly in Los Angeles does the first amendment apply, if not in parks parking lots, fields etc etc etc.
The seized property is not a rc toy, it is a rc camera. There is a difference. One is used for recreation. The other is used for a constitutionally protected right.

Drone confiscated by Hollywood cops

   Image Source

Another report on the incident, by TMZ, said that  the cops grabbed the drone and then placed Zebra under arrest for a city law that prohibits anyone from flying an unmanned aircraft around a public beach. He was cited and released. The report also said that the arrest got the LAPD buzzing … because L.A. authorities have been stumped on how to regulate drones. Up to now the LAPD and prosecutors saw no way to prohibit drones that fly under 400 feet. Read more:

Just recently, it was reported that Senator Charles Schumer is calling on the Federal Government to get drone regulations passed for the safety of air travelers. The call comes after Schumer revealed that there have been at least two recent instances of drones spotted flying in Westchester airspace near Westchester Airport, including one that came within a landing plane’s airspace. Read more here:

As for drone users themselves, they acknowledge that drone mishaps negatively impacts the growing drone consumer industry, for these will lead to more government restrictions on drone use. The fact that FAA only allows drone flying for hobbyists, and not for commercial use already frustrates photographers, for example, who see big business potential for  uav aerial photography services. As observed by an article on Forbes.com, realtors, photographers and other potential commercial users have expressed dismay over the FAA’s backwards regulations which allow flying for fun, but not flying for work.

As interest in hobby drones surges, it becomes harder to find locations for safe and legal drone flying. The technology is difficult to control even for the most experienced flyers, according to an article by the Epoch Times.

Indeed, these are exciting, but challenging times for the budding consumer drone technology, according to James Davis, publisher of  The Droneologist.  There’s still a lot that is not clear in the legal sense, and it is important that drone users be more mindful of how they handle their precious drones to avoid crashes. Especially for the inexperienced drone flyers, they should be more respectful of the parameters so far given by the FAA, he continued to say.


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