aerial photography

Aerial photography ban proposed for all but government

February 26, 2013
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aerial photography Aerial photography ban proposed for all but government

New Hampshire bill proposes aerial photography ban

Neal Kurk (R), member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 1986 has recently sponsored HB 619-FN to make aerial photography illegal in their state, which many are considering a look into the future. States are currently struggling with how to deal with advances in drone technology, particularly mini-drones, fueled by fears not only that the federal government is using drones on U.S. soil, but are using them abroad not only to take out terrorists, but suspected terrorists, even if American. Click to tweet.

Much media attention has been showered on the topic, bringing light to the full array of uses, not just the CIA’s implementation of the technologies. According to Fox correspondent Catherine Herridge, the Federal Aviation Administration has already granted 327 licenses, and it projects as many as 10,000 licensed systems by 2017.



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New Hampshire’s proposed aerial photography ban states the following:

A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects. In this paragraph, “dwelling” means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more individuals.

Potential problems with this bill

Although the bill seeks to protect residents from being spied on or documented, it very clearly excludes government officials who may use drones for official business. Most protests against drones are not against hobbyists, Google Maps satellites, commercial flights, the film industry, or aerial photographers, rather against the government’s use of the devices.

The aerial photography ban is unclear as to the very specific non-threatening uses of aerial devices such as aerial real estate photography for listings, or if a homeowner is photographing their own home, and while it states that “This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects,” possibly implying that if no human is in any photo or video taken, it is acceptable.

Additionally, it is unclear the implications of this bill on existing Google maps or existing images that have been taken via aerial device, and videography does not seem to be clearly addressed in the bill.

Fines for violations of a bill that could spread to other states

Rep. Kurk proposes a fine for violating the aerial photography ban, costing $62.71 per case in fiscal year 2014, rising to $64.40 per case thereafter, with an estimated $10,000 burden on taxpayers should someone appeal, and of course the $35,000 per year prison cost per person that fails to pay and is arrested.

Real estate photographer Larry Lohrman said, “Based on the public discussion that I’ve seen on this subject, I’m going to go out on a limb and make a wild guess and predict that this is not going to be an isolated incident. My guess is that other states will be doing this too. Particularly since so many cities are resisting use of UAVs by law enforcement.”

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Weigh in...

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  • Demtrev Tonstoski

    People have been able to do this with zoom lenes in planes for years. I don’t think this Rep. Kurk has thought through his bill very well.

  • Don

    “This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects,” possibly implying that if no human is in any photo or video taken, it is acceptable.”

    ~This assumption is incorrect as a man made object could be cars, houses any other type of vehicle, fence, tower or any other man made object making the only permissible photos those of nature.

  • Scritti Politti

    Amateur-hour and embarrassing. The fact that people like this get elected explains why our country is in such dire straits. Local and state governments don’t control airspace. That’s the domain of the federal government and ONLY the federal government.

    Everything about this reeks of ignorance. “Human beings or man-made objects”? So you can only take an aerial picture if there’s not a single person, building, boat, road, power line, or trash can in it? How about man-made lakes? Not to mention that this is totally arbitrary. Why are aerial pictures prohibited but not ground pictures? Is it based on some theory that people can hide behind trees or other foliage? What about those in barren areas who are just as visible from the ground as from the air?

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • http://twitter.com/rh @rh

    Drones could be useful in the motion picture industry, apparently not in New Hampshire.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000875002205 Shawn Woelfel

      Exactly.. this ban proposal is absurd.

  • BlondeFurious

    Making this decision was easy for Kurk. It was simply a matter of getting paid well—or receiving some other significant favor—by the special interest group behind it or not getting paid well. He choose to get paid!

    Kurk doesn’t have a difficult time living with himself over proposing bills like this either. He’s in a special class of 550 or so individuals that get to call the shots for the other 300 million Americans. He’s mostly exempt from living by the same rules the rest of us live by. That’s one of the perks of holding his office. Isn’t it wonderful the fine people of the United States elect representatives that cannot truly represent us because of the perks of their office?

    Enough sarcasm… this is an awful, awful bill. In the hands of the masses the fantastic advantages of drone aerial technology far outweigh the negatives. Think of aerial crop scouting, validating insurance claims, taking overhead pictures of your property, leveraging another great tool for professional photography, filming independent films, etc…

    The vast majority of people are law abiding, and desire to be so. Will there be people on the fringes who use aerial drone technology with malicious intent? Absolutely. I think people on the fringes do that with computers, animals, other people, guns, knives, food, financial schemes, mobile phones, etc., etc., etc. Those outliers are always going to be there.

    What is the appropriate response to this bill? Throw it out! Demand any and all proposed legislation that caters to the fringe cases at the expense of the majority’s liberties to be rejected.

    • BillinDetroit

      “Demand any and all proposed legislation that caters to the fringe cases at the expense of the majority’s liberties to be rejected.”

      That casts fresh light on the current proposed gun confiscation laws now working their way through congress and through the legislators of several states.

      • http://www.facebook.com/RobertEGeodude Robert Eidson

        “Gun confiscation laws”? Who are these dumbass Constitutional experts?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000875002205 Shawn Woelfel

    Aerial photography and “drones” are two totally separate things. Drones are used by the Police and the government. Aerial photography is done with R/C models or an actual full scale aircraft. This ban proposal is due to people NOT knowing the difference between the two. A drone can do far more than any radio controlled model ever could, and if some whack job did build a model to do what drones can do.. then by all means.. lock him up. The ban proposals are getting way out of hand. You’re trying to ban someones hobby and even worse some peoples profession. Get real.

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  • Keith mckenna

    Seriously Mr Kurk? Do you kiss your mama with the same mouth you use to propose such stupid bills with?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.benedict.543 Tom Benedict

    Wow. So some kid setting a self-timer on his camera and tossing it into the air to make a photo of their back yard is suddenly guilty of a class A misdemeanor. Greeeeeeat…

    And the next lawmaker who says, “But that’s not how the law would be used” needs to have their brain checked at the door to see if they have any actual live neurons inside. It’s not up to the author of the bill to enforce it. It’s up to the police and the judicial system. So if that’s not how the law should be used, that’s not how it should be worded.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gerel.gruber Gerel Gruber

    Stupidity will get you anywhere including being continually elected I guess. Absurd coming from the Live Free or Die state, or did the motto change to Just Die recently? Google Maps et. al., real estate developers, tourism, news reporting, Freedom of Speech, land management, conservation, science and education, professional sports coverage, art, hot air balloons, gliders, public lands, private property rights, commercial enterprise, traffic and disaster reporting to name a few reasons why this law sucks. Limiting freedoms limits free enterprise which damages the economy among other things, but if you want to charge and fine a twelve-year old child as a terrorist for taking a photo with his camera from a plane in order to make up for lost revenue I guess that’s up to you Kurt.

  • Happeh

    None of you attacking Mr Kirk have made any comments indicating you have truly thought this through.

    Every one of you that says “this has been going on for years” has not followed that up with “on a limited basis”. How many airplanes, helicopters, model airplanes, model rockets or balloons have there been in the past taking aerial photos? Not very many.

    But now that technology has improved so much, instead of buying a new TV, video game console, or clothes for the new school year, anyone can buy a drone that can fly all over the neighborhood taking pictures through people’s windows.

    And since the law says “anything visible from the street is legal to take pictures of”, all of those people flying spy drones are going to be perfectly legal when they catch you and the missus through your open bedroom window, open living room window, open kitchen window etc, where you thought you were safe because you live on 5 acres that is completely fenced off.

    If you really want to trash someone like Mr Kirk you should examine the issue from every angle so you look thoughtful and concerned, instead of looking like people who don’t care about the issue at all and are only here because you want to disparage Mr Kirk.

    • HairyHerry

      I could take one of the two tiny spycams I possess and tape it on the end of a broomstick and use that to look over your fence to view your property. Does that mean we should now outlaw broomsticks, long sticks of PVC pipe, long lengths of copper tubing, long tree limbs, etc I could use to violate your PRIVACY? Get my drift on this?? This is why I’m commenting against the lack of logic that Mr. Kirk in this regard. There are already privacy laws existing in New Hampshire already, so why does Mr Kirk want responsible users of the technology to be barred from utilizing it, yet makes NO PEEP WHATSOEVER regarding his State’s usage of such? I will continue to disparage Mr. Kirk when he doesn’t use his functional cranium – a typical faux pas of nearly all legislators whom act on non-existent kneejerk reactions. In Other Words, I want him to seriously reconsider balancing his proposed Act, and if I were a New Hampshireman in the legislature in Concord, I’d insist on modification to balance this.

    • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.j.campbell.5 Christopher Jay Campbell

      Perhaps you should learn a little more about aerial photography. It is a huge business, from Google satellites to aerial surveys for proposed businesses. Before almost any chain restaurant is built, there is an aerial survey. Aerial photos are extremely popular in postcards, magazines, and advertisements. Aerial photography is not rare; the fact is, most inhabited places are photographed quite frequently. People even buy aerial portraits of their homes and businesses and hang them on their walls. Private companies, scientists, and researchers of all kinds rely extensively on aerial photography.

      The fact is, if you are outdoors, you are on public view. Someone probably sees you, whether from the ground or from the air. As for people taking pictures of you in your bedroom, there are already laws against voyeurism. However, if you are standing in your window looking out at the street, there is no way in the world that you are going to successfully argue that your privacy was violated. Think of all the photos in magazines and elsewhere showing people in windows, in stores, in restaurants, at sporting events, in their offices, etc. Do you really think a picture of a glass office building full of people is secured with model releases from every individual in the building? Your employer may have security camera photographing you at work and in the parking lot. Your hotel is filled with security cameras photographing you in all public areas. Security cameras watch to catch cheaters at casinos. Security cameras look for crime such as prostitution, robbery, and drug dealing in public parks and other public areas.

      Further, the proposed law is probably unconstitutional as an unreasonable restraint on freedom of expression. It is easily proven that the law provides no additional level of privacy that you do not already have. The courts are highly unlikely to uphold this law.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RobertEGeodude Robert Eidson

      You sound like a strong supporter of that waco congressman. Need to check hospital records to determine when the full-frontal lobotomy was performed!

  • HairyHerry

    What is the deal New Hampshire? Live Free Or Die?? Or are these just words on your license tags??? I’m glad some New Hampshiremen are asking questions now about this Act of Stupidity. This is problematic when 1) existing privacy laws are not being cited with this proposed act, 2) that the sponsoring legislator assumes this technology in the hands of We The People will be abused against their fellow New Hampshiremen, 3) that no issues regarding FPV craft in New Hampshire have been noted going into this proposed Act, 4) No mention that State Government should be EQUALLY BOUND as their Citizens, and 5) Not even at consideration would be a sunset clause to revisit this potential issue that does not even exist!
    This is even a better reason why FPV hobbyists should unite. Texas is considering similar legislation now and before you know it, only the same government fascists who allow the banksters their free reign will be those with the ability to use this technology, no checks and balances by We The People because legislators would rather we remain as Sheeple instead of the People, despite the fact a NH lawmaker makes extremely little from their legislative activities.

  • HairyHerry

    Please! It’s our GOVERNMENT who is into the terrorism part of this. Are you really that much of a sheep? Read more of these comments, take your meds, and get a grip!

    • vonskippy

      Apparently you’re so completely stupid that you can’t recognize simple sarcasm.

      • HairyHerry

        Sorry about that. Understand that I did not sense sarcasm in this and I, HH hereby withdraws that comment against you as it’s the correct thing to do. Too many sheeple simply say Meh! at problematic matters as this and move on. Until enough take this and other issues seriously enough, we won’t even have a Country left worth living in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.j.campbell.5 Christopher Jay Campbell

    Okay, so people are afraid of being spied upon by government drones. So let’s outlaw all aerial photography except spy photos made by government drones. How does this make any sense at all?

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