Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) known as drones are readily available and can even be purchased at Target or Toys “R” Us. However the federal government deems drones to be aircrafts and subject to Federal Aviation Administration regulations. For one thing, all buyers must register their drone. Registration can be done online by completing a short form and costs $5. A registration number is then generated which must be marked on the drone.
Drone buyers that fail to register are subject to civil and criminal penalties. Even prison time. Yikes! With such serious consequences, large law firms are establishing departments to address legal issues associated with the use of drones. Holland and Knight, a national law firm, is one of the first law firms to establish a Drone Practice in the United States.
There are different regulations for commercial and private use. For instance, legal issues arise when the media utilizes drones and has to balance First Amendment rights and privacy. Commercial regulations also come into play when a business uses drones to take pictures.
But even Dan, the drone aficionado down the street, must follow special rules. For example, Dan must inform a nearby airport of his plans to fly drones. He also can’t fly too high; the drone needs to be within sight; and shouldn’t be flown above people and moving vehicles.
Of course, a benefit of registration is that it should make it easier to locate a lost drone.