Texas drone photography law draws press-backed lawsuit

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedAn interesting federal lawsuit was filed by a reporter and the National Press Photographers Association and Texas Press Association against the State of Texas claiming problems with a law which limits what can be legally photographed by drones.

Violations of the law on drone photography can be punished by fines of $500 and can rise to a Class B misdemeanor with jail time and a $2000 fine “if the image is displayed, disclosed or distributed, with each image a separate offense,” reported the Statesman.

The Left-leaning plaintiffs claim the law was designed to “suppress potentially embarrassing news coverage, such as environmental problems at oil or chemical plants” and that the law has curbed efforts to “document conditions of a facility that houses immigrant children.”

The 2013 law was largely passed because we don’t want people flying drones over our properties, taking photos of us and property we wish to remain private, and publishing such. And yes, limits for certain types of venues were added in 2015 which appear to restrict press access to places which may need news coverage.

The statute suffers from a common problem of vague wording that can be interpreted extremely narrowly or broadly with no sufficient definitions.

The statute suffers from a common problem of vague wording that can be interpreted extremely narrowly or broadly with no sufficient definitions. The law says you cannot use drones with an “intent to conduct surveillance.” What does that mean?  Is it a go-to-jail thing to have a drone looking at deer and spotting them across the property line from the hunting lease? Is it banned “surveillance” that neighbors’ fields show up in a sunset image taken?

San Marcos police made threats to journalists for trying to document with drone photos the aftermath of the apartment fire there that left five dead last year. The press folk, Lefties or not, are correct that the law is too vague opening anyone up to charges for the most innocent of activity.

What do you think?...

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