What is the UK's take on a drone camera?
Was thinking of knocking one together to check on my guttering.
Anyone in Oregon owning a drone fitted with a camera could be jailed for six months, or a year if it's caught flying, if a new state law is passed. The rules were proposed to tackle, among other things, peeping toms gazing into bedroom windows. Draft legislation before the Oregon State Senate would, if put into the statute …
You can pick up a ready made one pretty cheap, Klaas Olsen do / did one for about £20 if I remember correctly (Helicpoter rather than "Drone" but I used it to check the gutters and I have no R/C flying experience (well, I do now obviously)
Actually, £39.99 now - Catalogue here
Disclosure - Not employed by them, satisfied customer
"Wouldn't a ladder be cheaper?"
Depends how high your gutter is and how long a ladder you feel comfortable climbing. Mine high above the first floor (second floor for American viewers) and would have to set it up, climb up and down, move it, repeat.
Was also thinking camera-on-a-stick with optional attachments to clear any problems.
I suppose a camera on the end of a pole is just as legal as it was before and just as likely to peep in a bedroom window.
Me-thinks the law is over-specified.
Why not just make peeping in a bedroom window with a camera illegal?
I suspect all drones in Oregon will have a remote controlled camera eject facility
> Me-thinks the law is over-specified.
I think the law is perfectly specified; just not for what it says on the tin.
People are starting to use drones to keep tabs on businesses suspected of nefarious practices such as illegal waste dumping.
I suspect the law is about stopping that rather than preventing the local perv flying a parrot through Mrs. Wobbly-jugs' bathroom window.
They'd probably say you'd no longer be allowed to fly such a machine in Oregon if the law passes. Owning such a device before the law passes would be a grey area due to prohibitions on retroactive statutes, but if the law passes, FLYING one would almost certainly be forbidden, built-in or not.
I wonder how they'd categorise the satellites that are currently photographing the Earth in great detail? Are these defined as flying machines when in geo-stationary orbit? When a satellite re-enter is it a flying or a falling machine?
"I wonder how they'd categorise the satellites that are currently photographing the Earth in great detail? Are these defined as flying machines when in geo-stationary orbit? When a satellite re-enter is it a flying or a falling machine?"
Although there is such a thing as national airspace, there's no such thing as national 'spacespace'. Anyone can park anything anywhere. Though recon birds aren't geostationary, as a rule.
I dunno, but I'd be pretty annoyed if I'd spent £300 on a Parrot AR.Drone and then told I couldn't fly it. Presumably selling R/C helicopters, camcorders and gaffer tape in one purchase will be illegal too?
The thing that struck me as the most alarming though, is that bills can be introduced anonymously in the first place??
that attaching micro-cams to your toys is the big new thing in the world of modelling. I was at a model railway show at the weekend, and they had a driver's eye view from one of the trams, with a mock-up of the driver's controls so that people could have a go. Half the layouts had train cams, whereas a couple of years ago there were only one or two. I can see the appeal even more for aviation modelling. You can even get controllers with built in LCD screens now. This seems a case where intention is the culprit rather than the technology. Why not insist that all of these hobbyist cameras transmit unencrypted/scrambled?
"micro-cams to your toys is the big new thing in the world of modelling. I was at a model railway show at the weekend"
Not so new. The American firm Lionel (OK, not exactly "model" trains at the time, but bear with me) introduced their "RailScope" system (nose-mounted mini-camera) in 1988. They did have the advantage at the time of having locomotives big enough to carry a late-80s size video camera.
I would bet that such an exemption would be the first one listed.
My first thought was 'about fucking time'; but on reflection, I can see many legitimate uses for the technology. None of them involve intruding on someone's privacy.
If this even stands a chance of passing, then I feel that there are some exceptions that are in order, such as flying over public spaces, operating a drone over your own property (think farmers and anyone who owns large tracts of land) for starters. Flying your drone, with or without a camera in it, over a county/state/national park should NOT be a crime. A farmer, flying a drone over a his own acreage to check for loose livestock, intruders (poachers), crop observation, etc., should NOT be a crime!!!!
What I would not object to are provisions that restrict operation over backyards, etc; perhaps a requirement for some kind of identifying number (aka 'tail number') - to allow prosecution of those who choose to use their drone in unacceptable ways.
This post has been deleted by its author
> Or just....
> legislate against that which you want to restrict - looking into people's bedrooms.
> Of course, that's already illegal, so they'd have nothing to do.
Is it illegal if done from a public place, though?
On those UK 'fly on the wall' police shows, such as "road wars" / "street wars" / "cops with cameras" etc. you often get the case where the suspect shouts "get that camera off me", and the policemen always (correctly) respond with "He's in a public place, he can record what he wants" [ though of course, the police view on this seems to change when they are being recorded.
Yes the law is an abomination, but we are only at the beginning of the tech.
What happens when you get paparazzi-style telephoto lenses attached which can be flown over public areas and are taking pictures from a mile away? What if the police are allowed to do that?
Personally I'm in favour of allowing both the drones and sniper rifles/high-power lasers.
"What happens when you get paparazzi-style telephoto lenses attached which can be flown over public areas and are taking pictures from a mile away?"
They get very blurry photographs.
You can't use a high-power telephoto lens from a model aeroplane and expect to get a usable photograph. You'd probably struggle to even get the 'plane in the air with your $10,000 lens unless it was pretty large, too.
All told, there are cheaper ways of achieving the same results.
Be that as it may, the law will still make the innocent act of attaching a $200 camera kit to your probably-already-more-expensive-than-that RC chopper or plane a crime. Instead of assuming such machines will be used by individuals for nefarious purposes, as seems to be the way of modern legislation, existing privacy laws should be applied to individuals who misuses their toys.
Law enforcement is REACTIVE. PROACTIVE law enforcement gets into the realm of attempting to determine one's intentions before he or she formulates the intention or executes the action, resulting in everyone being a criminal before given the chance to not be one. This makes the abhorrent assumption that people have no other attachment to doing right, or not doing wrong depending upon the theory applied, which is an affront to personal liberties.
Paris, long after the original criminal, Fiona.
RC vehicles are /*very*/ popular and with the decrease in cost, improvements in power economy and an overall decrease in weight; attaching cameras to these vehicles is becoming a very common practise.
An example, are the Quadrotor thingies you can buy that can be controlled from your phone, they have a camera installed by default and for good reason; they are easier to fly when you can get an in-flight POV rather than an external observer's POV.
Have a poke around youtube for people attaching cameras to flying stuff and you will find plenty of people doing it.
Also search on Google for "rc controlled helicopter with camera" and you will find many examples of RC choppers with HD cameras included. They don't make these sorts of things unless there is a market for it. Furthermore, the fact that you can buy an RC helicopter with an onboard video camera for less than £50 indicates, to me at least, that there is a substantial market for such 'toys'.
They really are not very popular. Very popular would mean that you couldn't walk down the street without seeing 5 people with RC handsets. Tamagotchi were very popular. Burberry was very popular. RC vehicles is a very small specialist hobby.
I'm not saying that because I think that, because it is a small specialist hobby, it should have to put up with stupid laws like this, I'm saying it because of your hyperbole in insisting that this is affecting everyone and his dog, simply because it affects you and your RC mates.
Not huge numbers maybe, but the ability to do so has become within reach of your "average modeller" if you will.
As people have posted, putting a camera on an RC plane/helicopter is not difficult, and could cost as little as £20-30. Personally I don't see anything wrong with it - just like any other, tool, toy, or bloody kitchen appliance - it *could* be used for nefarious purposes, but most likely won't.
Here's one I made last year: £100 ish plane, £20 video camera and radio gear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqF9bWbd9RY
"Law enforcement is REACTIVE. PROACTIVE law enforcement gets into the realm of attempting to determine one's intentions before he or she formulates the intention or executes the action, resulting in everyone being a criminal before given the chance to not be one. This makes the abhorrent assumption that people have no other attachment to doing right, or not doing wrong depending upon the theory applied, which is an affront to personal liberties."
But REACTIVE is now too slow for people. By then, the tragedy (Sandy Hook, Oklahoma City, 9/11) has already occurred and people are dead. That's too late. The move now is towards PRE-crime: preventing the tragedy from actually taking place so people don't die. Because if PRE-crime is such a bad time, how bad would it be compared to someone YOU love being the next to die become of some crime no one anticipated in time?
Yes, that's right. That's how life works. Law enforcement is not, contrary to many people's beliefs, there to prevent crime from occurring. They are are there to (try to) find a criminal AFTER the crime has been committed so the legal system can make sure he (or she) doesn't do it again. Pre-emptive policing is a dangerous thing to even consider. You cannot justify arresting and prosecuting someone for their intentions if they have not, in fact, done anything wrong.
That is one of the most frightening things I've read on El Reg for some time. There are so many holes in your argument that it isn't possible to begin to work out where to start.
You aren't Harlan Ellison by any chance? Only he has made me feel so uncomfortable about the way society could go (try reading "Harrison Bergeron" for a clue).
" with many enthusiasts attaching cameras to their craft for the purpose of recording their flights, not to mention certain ball-ocket experiments and other high altitude boffinry."
"No officer, it's a re-entry vehicle with a guidance camera attached.
Yes, I know it's got LOHAN on the side"
Most Western countries, including the UK and Oz, allow public gun ownership. The only question is in how much licensing there is - in the US next to none, in the UK a pretty fair amount of effort goes into keeping them out of the hands of crazies and weirdoes. The UK model is much better, but is rather too rigid in what constitutes unreasonable or irresponsible behaviour for the licensee (meaning that ANY statutory violation can result in you losing your gun license, even if someone starts a fight with YOU and you simply defend yourself, or in a moment of anger or fighting utter any threatening words of any sort). And the appeals process is horrendous, expensive, and rather biased against you. So the UK has the right laws, but overly rigid enforcement of behavioural standards, and the US is way too loose and doesn't even check psychiatric records. Somewhere between...
BTW, does Oregon have any restrictions on placing a .410 derringer on board the drone??? Of courses, you would need a prohibited camera to actually aim it...
"The only question is in how much licensing there is - in the US next to none"
Well, no. Firearms licensing is not a federal matter, but left to the states and local governments. Requirements for firearms ownerships varies greatly from one place to another and blanket generalizations are impossible to make.
I think having a drone with camera is an absolutely wonderful toy, if the range and battery life get a bit better than current consumer versions... you'd essentially be able to fly!
But one can definitely imagine a massive use of these for watching people in the nude either for personal use, 'journalism', blackmail, or peep-show porn sites.
Even if it's illegal to peep on people, catching anyone who is using a drone would be a nightmare so banning the sale of such products might, unfortunately, have to be the reasonable solution. Of course people can still built their own but then it goes from a mass-consumer-problem to a minority problem as few people could be bothered.
There's an Arthur C. Clarke story (with Baxter I think) which talks about the death of privacy. In that case it's due to the ability to open mini-wormholes but the principle could be the same.
So if I live somewhere not overlooked by any neighbours or roads, I have to make sure to close the curtains in case someone is looking through the window with a drone? Or make sure not to sunbath topless in my private garden which can't be seen any other way?
Considering how frothy-mouthed you lot get about anyone knowing what you're doing on the internet, I'm surprised you're in favour of people spying through your window.
"I have to make sure to close the curtains in case someone is looking through the window with a drone? Or make sure not to sunbath topless in my private garden which can't be seen any other way?"
I'd counter that that's a bit paranoid.
Peeking toms have better ways of getting their kicks than flying little planes around and capturing grainy non-stabilised images from drone-mounted cameras.
Hmm... I seem to remember a story called, iirc, "Welcome to the Goldfish Bowl". There was a huge time-viewer that allowed you to see the past housed in a massive building, and it could only look back if the event was over 500 years ago or something.
Then someone worked out a) how to make it small and cheap and b) how to get around the 500 year thing (possibly realising it was an artificial restriction). They released the machine to the public, and a very angry man from the government turned up with the simple question "how long ago is the past?" and then left, muttering the story's title. (or something).
IIRC it was neutrino-like particles that were used to visually reconstruct a view of any event anywhere. Originally the inventor thought it would allow researchers to peer back to any moment in time, but it turned out that signal-to-noise issues limited the time range to a few days. You could specify any viewing location, however.
Keeping the subject in frame must have been tricky, given all the wobbling and weaving our little dreidel called Earth does as it hurtles across time and space.
"But one can definitely imagine a massive use of these for watching people in the nude either for personal use, 'journalism', blackmail, or peep-show porn sites."
I'm really struggling to. I can't help think that this does pretty much nothing that binoculars don't already do. The only exception I can think of is Paparazzi using it to intrude further than their existing lenses and helicopters already allow them.
I'm assuming drones count as Game, right? In that if they're over your property, they're yours and you can shoot them?
Its OK to shoot pretty much anything over there isn't it?
Some jurisdictions get snooty about discharging firearms within city limits. In those places you might be reliant on 'self defence' statutes and/or a lenient judge. Speaking personally I find the idea of someone firing a gun out of a bedroom window at a floating drone to be horrifying. Where's the bullet going to go if you miss? Come to that with a decent handgun the bullet will probably keep on going even if you do hit the drone. Even shotgun pellets could end up peppering your neighbour's garden.
It's bad enough firing a gun upward within a populated area but firing it horizontally from a second floor window is scary as hell.
I keep waiting for the rest of the world to understand the difference between a well armed population and a bunch of trigger happy lunatics. Only an utter fool would shoot at a drone in a populated area. Granted, we do have more than our fair share of utter fools (AKA gang bangers), but they're still an extreme minority.
"I keep waiting for the rest of the world to understand the difference between a well armed population and a bunch of trigger happy lunatics. Only an utter fool would shoot at a drone in a populated area. ."
But don't you have people who fire handguns at cinema screens?!
Seriously, you want a new law just to stop the maybe two guys in the whole state who would be willing to go to all that trouble, when there is an internet full of porn available?
Anyway, isn't it already illegal to peep on people? Why bother with a new law, which will stop people from taking some completely innocent but very cool movies?
This is very much like banning all phone cameras because there are people who will use them to take underskirt pictures in the subway. Let's ban zoom lenses, too.
It seems a very specific piece of legislation. Its not going to stop people who wish to perform an illegal act anyway (unauthorised surveillance) from performing that act, they are already determined to break 1 law, what's another one?
More sensibly, how about mandating that all remotely operating devices with cameras carry a flashing orange light clearly visible from both the air and ground, this would seem to resolve the hidden surveillance problem whilst also covering a multitude of other potential problems as well, but not limiting legitimate users from enjoying the capability that camera mounted flying toys can bring.
I'd been looking at flying toys for a while, so when one came up in the HMV sale at half price I took the plunge.
I've never attempted being a peeping tom, but I'm guessing you need to stay pretty quiet. Quiet is N O T something that can be said for drones. Even with double glazing I suspect you'd notice the buzzing noise at the window (unless it was being masked by a buzzing noise in the room).
I vaguely remember reading an interpretation of this:
.... that an ummanned aircraft - either controlled in the classic RC manner from the ground, or First person view - carrying a camera - simple recording OR broadcasting - is ok as that is under direct control.
Equally a drone-controlled aircraft WITHOUT a camera is also ok.
But combine the 2 and it somehow became illegal.....
Although I cannot find the link that had that interpretation and haven't the time to plough through those CAPs.
I have a feeling that it may be as simple as where aviation in general is concerned, the basis of Common Law that applies on the ground - that unless something has explicitly been defined as illegal, it's legal - is reversed to a more Napoleonic style of law, where unless an action is explicitly allowed anywhere in the ANO in its entirety, it's an illegal action.
So as neither of those linked CAPs mention anything close to drones-with-cameras in their Contents, then its probably illegal, but check with the CAA.
But like all these things - eg mobile phone while driving - it can be as illegal as you want but unless time and money is invested into catching offenders, then the law remains an abstract concept until someone is actually caught.
Thats why I don't put my contact details on my RC aircraft as I "MAY" have flown above 400ft, which is illegal if a model is over 7kg, but the CPS would probably try it on anyway for a model under 7kg seen to be flying at over 1500ft with a camera on it, as that is also a combination of 2 separately allowed actions that may not be allowed when combined.
If the concern is about pictures, simply designate camera characteristics.
The GoPro camera shown above has very poor response to dimly lit scenes I teach young men and women English in my apartment and, for my own security, when no one else is in the apartment, I run GoPro's to record training sessions in case any accusations might be made.
I have found the ambient has to be quite high, so any aerial Peeping Toms would likely be disappointed.
Even running at a high frame rate GoPros exhibit quite a bit of blurring, not to mention the lenses fogging up from the heat of the camera.
Of course, surrounding your property with lightweight fish nylon netting would likely win you a few cameras and aircraft.
Drones don't take pictures, people take pictures.
You can't ban guns on the grounds that they can be used to kill people, but it is all right to ban camera equipped drones because they might take pictures, or websites because they can be used for illegal file sharing.
The law should be aimed at the illegal act, not the enabling tech if that tech has other perfectly legitimate uses.
I would NOT be happy with licensing for hobby camera drones. Even for commercial work. I will concede that there should be a mass (weight) limit or some other measure to make a distinction between a hobby level device and something of a professional model. Until there is a rampant problem, law makers should just leave people alone. There are already plenty of laws regarding peeping through windows. The certain to be exempted government spy drones are the ones to be worried about as they will definitely be used to peep through windows.
The ideas posted on legitimate uses are great! Here's mine: Camera drones can be used with school biology courses to photograph birds nests to count eggs and chicks. Having a fun bit of tech like that will get more kids interested.
>If I shoot you with a gun, it's pretty obvious it was me. If I shoot you with a remote controlled drone, it's not?
It's probably easier to train with a scoped rifle and hit someone then try to hit someone with a gun on a 'reasonably affordable' drone. You can hit someone with a scoped rifle from quite a distance, we tend to call the people who do it regularly snipers.
"With photographers of all stripes is that they're awfully keen to stick their cameras in where they're not welcome. Hence rules like this."
Rubbish. One might as well argue that all car drivers are awfully keen to speed.
Some *scum* photographers are awfully keen to stick their cameras where they aren't welcome. Legislating against *every* photographer and RC-plane enthusiast because *some* photographers is just backwards.
How, exactly, is a cop with a remote controlled flying camera any different from a cop in a helicopter from a legal perspective? Other than the fact that it costs a hell of a lot less tax payer money to do the same job I don't see a difference, so why are they grounding their police drones?
Or does this stem from the increasing public perception that cops are the bad guys? (Which, frankly, is something else I don't get.)
.. just introduce the kind of privacy laws occasionally actually enforced in Europe (if it's not an Irish regulator angling for a job by Apple, but I digress).
It has all the right bits in.
Yes, I know that idea would have a snowball's chance in hell, but think of all the cushy lobbying you'd provoke if you proposed this..
What happens if I fly into the PDX airport poking a camera out the window to take pix of the local scenery? Is that going to send me to the hoosegow?
Also, as I understand it, modern airplanes have video cameras pointing out the front to show passengers what is going on (back of seat displays). Are these going to be bad as well.
The absurdity also comes into play when you fly a small plane, like traffic reporter does, and transmit video back to the TV station. Off you go!
So, exceptions will be written into the law, and we will all need to figure out what exactly IS legal!
What's more likely: That a bunch of lawyers totally forgot that thousands of 'planes and helicopters flying each day over the State already have people on board with cameras which are used legitimately, or that El Reg put prose ahead of stating the facts clearly and reported 'flying machine' when the draft legislation really applies to more specific cases?
I think it's pretty clear this politician is afraid of a specific threat, so the real question is: What's he been up to then?
Are we in pre-presidential GWB "apologize ahead of time for nothing in particular just in case you find something on me" territory?
Personally, having been alerted to this vile threat I plan on heavy investment in the soon-to-be lucrative market in counter-drone drones. A 1/8 scale Sopwith Camel with a Softair BB gun built-in should provide hours of counter-surveillance fun. Cabbage Crates spotted over the briny, skipper!
Surely the true American way would be to leave people free to fly their own drones anywhere they want, and then sue them if they film you screwing your wife's sister through the upstairs window, before making even more money selling the confiscated footage to Cheaters before a local desk-cop has time to leak it to the press?