back to article Bloke sues dad who shot down his drone – and why it may decide who owns the skies

A lawsuit filed against a man who shot down his neighbor's drone might define for the first time who owns the skies in America. Back in June, 47-year-old William Merideth shot down the camera-carrying $1,800 quadrocopter with a shotgun while it was hovering over his house in Hillview, Kentucky, claiming that he feared it was …

  1. Charles Manning

    What is the sky?

    Where do you draw the limit for where the sky is?

    Clearly flying one inch over a person's head is not really considered in the sky.

    Clearly 1km or so up is in the sky.

    I don't know what shot was in this thing, but if it came within shotgun range, it is in someone's close vicinity and I would argue it isn't in the sky. #6 bird shot only has an effective range of 100m or so fired upwards. 00 buck (9-ball) - a typical home defence load - has longer range, but you'd be damn lucky to hit a drone with that.

    1. websey

      Re: What is the sky?

      From an earlier article on arstechnica it was #6 buckshot as he supplied the gun plus casing to law enforcement and was the basis of his defence

      1. h4rm0ny
        Thumb Up

        Re: What is the sky?

        Yep. The drone was very low. And aside from the sheer fact it could be brought down by such a short-range weapon (physical proof), there's neighbour and family eyewitnesses and the fact that it was over his garden long enough - where it filmed his two daughters - for him to watch it, decide it was over-staying its welcome, go into the house, get his shotgun, come back out aim and shoot it.

        Really this is one of the worst foundational cases you could get if you're the person who wants to intrude on people's privacy with drones because the drone owner was in all sorts of wrong. Even the part: "who then threatened him with a handgun" is very different when you know the context. After shooting down the drone, the owner showed up with three other men at his house. With four unknown and hostile guys approaching them he warned them that if they came on his property he'd shoot. Now that last part as a reaction some will disagree with (and that maybe fair), but I wasn't there and four angry men approaching me would make me defensive too. At any rate, right or wrong, it's a bit different in reality from the impression you get from "then threatened him with a handgun".

        Way I read it, the drone owner is self-entitled, aggressive and thinks it's fine to hover over people's fenced in gardens filming them or their family members and I'm on Meredith's side on this. I think a large part of the reporting has been slanted by the angles that he "owns a gun" which makes him immediately a desirable target for anti-gun lobbyists who would like to paint him as a gun-happy thug. Citation to avoid defensive down-votes from people who are against gun ownership: Alistair Dabbs in this very site declared unreservedly that anyone who wanted to own a gun was "a budding psychopath". With prejudices like that, how objective is reporting actually going to be? And of course the fact that this took place in Kentucky which everyone who's never been there knows, is filled with nothing but drunken bigoted hicks. I mean just listen to that accent! How could the guy not be a crazy over-reacting nut?

        Anyway however you feel about this, the various attempts to cast this has someone shooting down an innocent drone that was just flying along through the sky have been exploded. Even more so than the drone itself.

        1. Graham Marsden

          @h4rm0ny - Re: What is the sky?

          Downvoted, not for the gun stuff (see later), but because here's the drone owner's version

          * * * * *

          In a video Boggs sent WDRB, he comments on drone's path 40 seconds before, during and after the incident.

          "We are now one minute and 18 seconds into the flight," he says on the video. "We are now 193 feet above the ground. This area here is the world-famous drone slayer home, and this is a neighbor's home, and our friends live over here, and over here, and over here. You will see now that we did not go below this altitude -- we even went higher -- nor did we hover over their house to look in. And for sure didn't descend down to no 10 feet, or look under someone's canopy, or at somebody's daughter."

          "We are right now one minute, 56 seconds over the drone slayer's house. We're still not on his property line -- we're just now getting ready to cross it....In less than two seconds...we are outside of his property, still at 272 feet. He shot the drone here, and you'll see it rapidly lose altitude, and the drone crash. Boom -- there it goes. Crazy, in the words of the great Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story."

          * * * * *

          Now, regarding the guns, if someone starts shooting at and destroying my property, I think I'd be a little miffed, and if I wanted to have a word with them, I doubt I'd just go up to their house, knock on the door and say "excuse me, old chap, would you mind not doing that?" I'd want a few friends with me. When we see the guy I want to speak to is packing a side arm and threatening 'If you cross my sidewalk, there's gonna be another shooting" I think we're going to back off. (NB nowhere can I find anything that says the drone owner or his friends are carrying firearms...)

          So have "the various attempts to cast this has someone shooting down an innocent drone that was just flying along through the sky" really been exploded?

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

            >>"Downvoted, not for the gun stuff (see later), but because here's the drone owner's version"

            Okay, so you downvoted me because the drone owner has now produced a contradictory account. Understood. I've now watched and read your link including the Fox News interview. One thing I note, though it's an aside, is how Meredith is having photos of himself plastered everywhere and footage of him in an argument when he's being arrested. The argument seems to revolve around the fact that someone is filming him being arrested which plausibly seems to be the drone owner or friend showing up to film Meredith being arrested after he called the police on him. Meredith isn't violent in any way, but is swearing. If someone called the police on me and then filmed my arrest, I would not be happy either. I also don't like the PR angle that Boggs keeps trying to play with things like "the world famous drone-slayer" and such. Everything I've read with Boggs seems to give me the feeling he's playing some PR battle against the guy. One example is the photograph of a drone shown several times in your link of a distant blur in the sky and an enlarged inset showing it's a drone. Is there any claim that this photograph actually was taken at the time? No. It's almost certain it wasn't. But it's presented as if it was. The site you link to has multiple hallmarks of this sort of "truth-y" presentation.

            Now specifically as to him coming forward with his own version, I would be stunned if the map he showed on his iPad was remotely admissible as evidence. Drones record basic telemetry which you export as a text file as I understand it. I haven't used this software but I would lay good money that I could produce you whatever flight path you wanted. Unless the iPad was seized at the time by the police (which it wasn't), there's no evidence of Boggs' is story. Whilst on the other side we have multiple eye-witness statements, the range of the shotgun itself, where the shotgun presumably fell and the sudden appearance of flight path data.

            >>Now, regarding the guns, if someone starts shooting at and destroying my property, I think I'd be a little miffed, and if I wanted to have a word with them, I doubt I'd just go up to their house, knock on the door and say "excuse me, old chap, would you mind not doing that?" I'd want a few friends with me

            You wouldn't call the police or something? You'd get your mates together and go round there? How is what you're saying different to what I said. I simply pointed out that a lone line saying "and then threatened the owner with a gun" is quite different to four angry people showing up and you warning them to stay off your property.

            >>"When we see the guy I want to speak to is packing a side arm and threatening 'If you cross my sidewalk, there's gonna be another shooting" I think we're going to back off. "

            Crossing the sidewalk means the pavement. It's a street-facing house - crossing it means you're now walking into his garden. Just to be clear.

            >>"(NB nowhere can I find anything that says the drone owner or his friends are carrying firearms...)"

            And nowhere in my post will you find it stated that they were. I simply observed that four angry unknown men pulling up outside your house and heading into your property is a very different mental image to "and then he threatened them with a gun". And your facts are supporting that, so I stand by it. Four men don't need a gun to make me feel threatened.

            1. Graham Marsden

              Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

              I think what's really clear is that *both* of them are playing PR games.

              Your take was "Way I read it, the drone owner is self-entitled, aggressive and thinks it's fine to hover over people's fenced in gardens filming them or their family members and I'm on Meredith's side on this", but you (and your upvoters) didn't seem to have done any looking to see if there *was* an "on the other hand" version which may contradict it, hence the downvote.

              As for the gun stuff, personally I don't live in a country where there are people who think that "go for your gun" is the apparent default method of resolving an issue. (If Meredith was so concerned about the drone, why didn't *he* call the Police...?)

              1. h4rm0ny

                Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

                >>"I think what's really clear is that *both* of them are playing PR games."

                Actually, I don't see the same sort of tactics from Meredith. True, he could just be amazingly convincing in playing the role of an average Kentucky townsfolk and him having his face plastered across our media in a prison photograph is just some clever double-bluff game, but he seems fairly blunt and sincere to me.

                >>"but you (and your upvoters) didn't seem to have done any looking to see if there *was* an "on the other hand" version which may contradict it, hence the downvote."

                You don't know what I'm familiar with. You'll find comments on me about this on El Reg's coverage going back to their first stories on it. It's something I've been following in depth for sometime. I don't suppose there's any reason to suppose upvoters of my post are ignorant either. Assuming that you know more than other people and downvoting them on the assumption that they simply don't know as much as you or their opinions would be different, is flawed, imo.

                >>"As for the gun stuff, personally I don't live in a country where there are people who think that "go for your gun" is the apparent default method of resolving an issue"

                Nor do I. I live in the UK and am as English as they come.

                >>"(If Meredith was so concerned about the drone, why didn't *he* call the Police...?)"

                That's a counter to my proposing that a better response to property destruction would be to call the police rather than gather your mates and go round there as you suggested. It doesn't take away in any manner from my point. Should he have called the police? Maybe. It likely would have been gone by the time they got their and proving ownership would be very difficult. But sure, calling the police is what I would have done. However, my point was to add some context to what was presented in this article which was Meredith following up shooting down the drone by going and threatening the drone owner. You want to argue that calling the police on the drone would be a better response than shooting it down, be my guest. But don't try and counter my point by saying 'yeah, well why didn't he call the police, then?' There's a large difference between an obviously confrontational situation of gathering your mates and going round someone's house and the immediate response of whether or not to damage a mechanical device that is on your property and you consider to be actively infringing on your life. One is potentially violent and by definition pre-meditated. The other is neither.

                1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                  Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

                  There's a large difference between an obviously confrontational situation of gathering your mates and going round someone's house and the immediate response of whether or not to damage a mechanical device that is on your property and you consider to be actively infringing on your life. One is potentially violent and by definition pre-meditated. The other is neither.

                  Hang on, what? Are you saying that blowing something out of the sky with a shotgun isn't violent? And turning up to a house occupied by someone who has just done this, unarmed, is somehow the more violent action?

                  I don't know the personalities or the history of this, perhaps you do and there's context I don't get. Maybe one, or both of the parties is a certifiable arsehole - this is probably very likely. But you're making a few leaps here. "Gathering a few of your mates" could be "bring a witness in case he shoots me too". Maybe his mates were tiny and non-threatening. To me, being told "if you enter my property I'm going to shoot you" is the most violent action of this whole sordid tale, but that seems to pass as normal behaviour in the US.

                  In short your assignation of guilt to the one party isn't backed up by the facts quoted in this story or your comments on it.

                  1. apraetor

                    Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

                    It isn't "violence" in the eyes of the law as it wasn't directed against another person.

                  2. h4rm0ny

                    Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

                    >>"Hang on, what? Are you saying that blowing something out of the sky with a shotgun isn't violent? And turning up to a house occupied by someone who has just done this, unarmed, is somehow the more violent action?"

                    I am saying that blowing something out of the sky with a shotgun isn't inherently violent, yes. It could be - i.e. it's a plane with people on it. But equally it could be a small remote control toy in which case there is no violence directed towards people which is my relevant criteria. Similarly, gathering your mates and going round the house of someone you have a beef with, is confrontational (which was my actual wording) and more likely to lead to a violent situation.

                    So certainly, barring some loose wording on your part, you have indeed got what I said correct.

                    >>"To me, being told "if you enter my property I'm going to shoot you" is the most violent action of this whole sordid tale, but that seems to pass as normal behaviour in the US."

                    I wasn't there. I can't comment with certainty. My point is that one certainly can't support an abstract statement that Meredith shot down the drone and then went on to threaten it's owner with a gun as not pretty misleading when the actual circumstances were four people advancing on his property and him saying that he'd defend himself if they came onto it.

                    >>"In short your assignation of guilt to the one party isn't backed up by the facts quoted in this story or your comments on it."

                    I haven't assigned absolute guilt either way. I've just pointed out the facts favour Meredith and there's been some demonstrably loaded reporting on the subject mainly, it seems, based on people's a priori politics and feelings about people with guns.

                    1. Brangdon

                      Re: blowing something out of the sky with a shotgun isn't inherently violent,

                      In USA law, violence is defined as "the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or prop­erty of another". So shooting at someone else's drone is violence. It doesn't have to be directed at a person.

                2. Gary Bickford

                  Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

                  Re calling the police, it's probable that the police would not come for such a 'trivial' complaint, unless they were nearby and there was nothing else going on. They'd probably send someone in a day or two. Note that in that case, determine whose drone it was would be hard or imposdible for lack of evidence.

              2. Tom 13

                Re: If Meredith was so concerned about the drone, why didn't *he* call the Police

                Because on this side of the pond, not all of our men have been castrated.

                Also, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

                If Meredith had called the police, they would have arrived sirens wailing and the thug would have been long gone with his ill-gotten gains of photos of Meredith's daughters sunbathing. Boggs needs to be up on Peeping Tom charges, not whining about his property loss.

                1. ShadowDragon8685

                  Re: If Meredith was so concerned about the drone, why didn't *he* call the Police

                  "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away" is only for use when you are threatened with PHYSICAL HARM. And ONLY with physical harm. Not privacy invasion. Property defense, yes, if you reasonably fear that the other guy will use violence to claim your stuff - if they're breaking in, absolutely. If they grab your wallet and leg it, no.

                  Do you understand me? It's irresponsible gun-owners like Kentucky McShotgun who put more ammunition in the hands of the gun-grabbers. Unless that drone was FIRING UPON him or his kin, he had NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to shoot it down.

                2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

                  Re: If Meredith was so concerned about the drone, why didn't *he* call the Police

                  > Because on this side of the pond, not all of our men have been castrated

                  Because on this side of the pond, not all of our victims are Klansmen. FTFY.

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

            Boggs' video - we only have his word on the provenance, though lord knows it is very difficult to fake such stuff with today's home computers.

            Boggs is an idiot, and an annoying one at that. Who the flock wants to listen to a flying weedwhacker disturbing the peace after work? One of my neighbors used to drive an ic model car up and down the street all fucking sunday. What a great way to help the neighbors relax, eh?

          3. ShadowDragon8685

            Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

            I love that you've gotten 13 downvotes for this.

            It's all "We wanted to get into an outrage and harrumph over someone invading people's privacy! How dare you bring FACTS and DATA into the case which shows it isn't nearly as clear-cut a case of peeping tommery as we want it to be! HARRUMPH! I say, HARRUMPH!"

            Get over yourselves. Privacy isn't as all-sacrosanct a right as you think, and not all measures are justifiable in protecting it. You want to enjoy privacy, erect a physical barrier between you and people who can potentially see you. We do this all the time, they're called WALLS! And FENCES, and ROOFS. The dude with the drone is in the right here - Kentucky McShotgun was just itching to blast him one of those dat-burnt newfangled snoopin' machines and he took a well-aimed long shot. That doesn't make him a heroic paladin of privacy, it make him the arsehole who shot down someone's drone when it was way, way the hell out of his business.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: they're called WALLS! And FENCES

              Had fence. Was using it. Droney McFucktard used superior tech to overcome it. Family Valuesguy deployed superior firepower to re-impose *your* ideas of how to protect privacy.

              It is instructive that for all the shouting by Dronemeister Boggs, none of the neighbors have rallied to his side. I mean, if someone living on your street fired a fucking shotgun into the air wouldn't you be talking up a storm vis-a-vis complaints, redress, aligning with Mr Freedom In The Skies? If you fireed a shotgun into the sky, wouldn't you expect some anger from your neighbors?

              Sounds to me like Boggs' neighbors were only too happy when a sudden sharp BANG removed the annoying ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZ from the sky.

          4. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            What is the sky for stupid?

            Down voted I never even read your full reply just followed your link and realised the shootist was bloody good at being a shootist which has to be worth some sort of a reward -even by Kentukian standards.

            272 and barely on his property, the aggrieved idiot should find out if his case doesn't appear planned stooopid.

          5. Steve 129

            Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

            Hmm, in the video it looks like it drops ~270 feet in about 4 seconds.

            Seems a little fast to me?

            1. h4rm0ny

              Re: @h4rm0ny - What is the sky?

              >>"Hmm, in the video it looks like it drops ~270 feet in about 4 seconds. Seems a little fast to me?

              Slightly too fast but within margin of error. Distance dropped starting at zero velocity and ignoring drag would be 257 feet. I would expect drag to reduce it further though not necessarily by much. However, the offset could easily be made up for by the drone already having a downward velocity or flipping over when it and accelerating downward faster than gravitational acceleration would explain.

              That said, the log is trivially faked and if it were at 270 feet, that's a Hell of a shot to pull off with a shotgun.

        2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          A country whose default is Fail

          What you expect and what you get leaves the door open to leaving the door open and killing any future law suit stone dead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is the sky?

      #6 bird shot only has an effective range of 100m or so fired upwards

      100m is over 300ft, which is well into Amazon's proposed "commercial drone" airspace. That's a pretty long way when we're talking back-yard operated drones.

      And I imagine it doesn't take a lot of physical damage to bring down a small toy drone - a single pellet strike to any of several components would probably do it.

    3. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: What is the sky?

      However as these mature and we have better cameras on them the bottom line is that it won't matter if they're 100m up or 1000m they'll be able to zoom in on whatever they like or take high enough resolution footage that it can then be look at later on a computer.

      Personally as far as I'm concerned they should be treated the same as CCTV cameras - fine to cover your property but not any other private residence without consent.

      I don't own a drone but I do like them - but there's a time and place.

    4. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: What is the sky?

      I don't know what shot was in this thing, but if it came within shotgun range, it is in someone's close vicinity and I would argue it isn't in the sky.

      The simplest laws are often the best so I propose that ground up they start with the following. Unless it is making an emergency landing, if it is over my land and I can hit it with buckshot from my land then it is in my airspace and may be reasonably hit with buckshot until it is no longer in my airspace.

      If someones daughters are sunbathing in a secluded spot of their garden, its wholly inappropriate to be flying camera drones overhead to get a better view. The drone owner isn't covering himself in glory here, regardless of what he may state he was or was not doing.

      1. Gary Bickford

        Re: What is the sky?

        Effective weapons range has a strong historical precedent. The original Three Mile Limit in maritime law was (according to references I read some time ago) based on the practical point that it was the maximum range of cannons of the time.

    5. lone_wolf

      Re: What is the sky?

      i would think you mean more like 100ft, 100m is like 300ft.

  2. Kurt S

    the problem with drones...

    ... is that they are too easy to operate, hover capable and can be equipped with cameras.

    Any perv can buy a cheap camera equipped drone and fly around looking though bedroom windows just as any small criminal can use one to scout houses to see if no one is home.

    If I noticed a drone hovering over my backyard at a low enough altitude for a possibly equipped camera to be looking inside my house I'd not only feel uncomfortable with it but threatened as well and honestly were I to have the means to rapidly ground the thing, I would.

    I appreciate the hobby of operating R/C vehicles and I admire what some people can make their chosen craft do but my backyard is not the place to do it in, go to a local R/C airfield.

    1. BillG
      Megaphone

      Re: the problem with drones...

      Interesting - drones with cameras might be covered under the Peeping Tom Law

      (f) Any person who, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person, secretly or surreptitiously uses or installs in a room any device that can be used to create a photographic image with the intent to capture the image of another without their consent shall be guilty of a Class I felony.

      While this applies to a room, I can see a good lawyer making a legal argument extending this to the airspace of drones.

      Remember that Roe v. Wade stated that the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment implied a right to privacy. That also comes into play here.

      1. IglooDude

        Re: the problem with drones...

        "secretly or surreptitiously uses" - but drones flying close enough to viably peer in windows are (currently) loud enough to be definitively not-surreptitious, making the Peeping Tom law inapplicable. Although at that point perhaps harassment or neighborhood noise ordinances could come into play instead.

        Regardless, if the FAA thinks it is going to somehow protect drones flying within birdshot range of suburban or rural houses, it has mistakenly doubled down on its absurd drone registration idea and the bureaucratic reversal will only come sooner rather than later.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: the problem with drones...

          >>""secretly or surreptitiously uses" - but drones flying close enough to viably peer in windows are (currently) loud enough to be definitively not-surreptitious, making the Peeping Tom law inapplicable"

          Well when that law was written there was no way to do such things without being there in person. So you would be secret and surreptitious. Now you can be secret and surreptitious even with a noisy drone because nobody knows who owns it or who is watching through its eyes.

          Surreptitious (adj): 1.kept secret, especially because it would not be approved of:

          The person is still being surreptitious even if the drone can be seen. And it's the person who gets charged with a crime, not the tool they use to do it.

        2. M Mouse
          Meh

          Re: the problem with drones...

          drones flying close enough to viably peer in windows are (currently) loud enough to be definitively not-surreptitious, making the Peeping Tom law inapplicable.

          However, you can surely see that someone could fly a drone, land it, and not be needing the hover capability (say viewing from the roof of a building across the street into the target property).

          Also, with the latest battery/ power technology, where a previous 20 minute flight may have been possible, fuel cell retailers are expecting 2-3 hours, so if the R/C device only needs to receive the radio for a couple of hours (having landed the drone in a position from which to view the target), the drone could sit with minimal power consumption, waiting for a radio signal, at which point the camera will be activated, start streaming, and the roof where it is located might be in complete darkness.

          So long as the "Peeping Tom" remembers to turn off the camera before running the battery too low, and taking off, to be able to recover the drone, there may be only the noise of the drone at two times - once to position and land it, and the second, possibly under cover of darkness, to take off and land (not necessarily near the drone owner's home).

          Who knows how far it will be flown before collection, and in the first place, from whence it came... (in other words, the PT drives to a park within range of the target property, having spotted a suitable target building + person, and taken note of some landmarks... goes back after dark, watches whatever they can, flies the drone back towards the park (and by means of their own hazard lights and headlights, can get visual clues about which direction to fly once near the park).

          NB I am in UK, not sure if any similar 'Peeping Tom' law exists, and don't drive.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: the problem with drones...

          >>it has mistakenly doubled down on its absurd drone registration idea…

          Requiring registration numbers on RCMAs (Remote Controlled Model Aircraft) will be helpful for cases such as their getting tangled in power lines or lodged in building exteriors. Carbon fibre is often used on higher end craft and it's electrically conductive. I'm sure the power company will like to know who to bill for repairs when they are called out to pull one out of their high voltage lines. There is a State capitol building the in US that has/had a RCMA lodged at the top edifice of the dome with no way to retrieve it short of a very tall and very expensive crane. A gust of wind pushed it into the building and it was stuck. A person was flying off his high-rise deck in New York (poorly) and damaged one enough banging into other high-rise buildings for it to crash missing a person on the ground by a meter. The guy it nearly crashed on was clever enough to sell the video footage from the memory card to the local TV news. The footage is on YouTube.

          If the mad drone photographer was just having a go flying his 'copter, why wasn't in front of the homes instead of around back?

    2. Rusty 1
      WTF?

      Re: the problem with drones...

      Why should I have to go to a local R/C airfield to test out my crawling/climbing RC cockroach? If I want to roam the 'hood in search of 'roach fodder, that's what I'll do, thank you very much.

      Who ever heard of a flying cockroach! The lunacy of it all!

      1. tony2heads
        Unhappy

        @Rusty 1

        Cockroaches CAN FLY , they just are faster on foot

        Icon -my thoughts about roaches.

    3. Pompous Git Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: the problem with drones...

      and honestly were I to have the means to rapidly ground the thing, I would.

      A high pressure jet of water might do the trick. A suitably modified Kärcher?

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: the problem with drones...

        >A high pressure jet of water might do the trick.

        So might a jammer, or a small maser, or even a lobed EMP generator if you want to get seriously Bond Villain.

        2.4GHz and 5.8GHz jammers are illegal of course, but much harder to track down than guns because they don't go BANG!, they'll work through walls, and it's hard to tell the diff between jamming and drone malfunction - especially if you only hack the RF control and not the FPV feed.

        I'd guess it's only a matter of time before cheap Chinese versions start appearing on eBay.

        1. Neill Mitchell

          Re: the problem with drones...

          But what happens to the drone subject to the jamming? Loss of control resulting in it crashing into some poor random person in the area?

          A 5 year old lost an eye to an out of control drone recently in the UK.

          Bring down drones by whatever means could easily have regretable consequences.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: the problem with drones...

            >>Bring down drones by whatever means could easily have regretable consequences.

            If Amazon is allowed to deliver via drone, there will be all sorts of them falling from the sky. It will be the next new sport. Since the service will be expensive, the chances that the payload will be something small and pricey such as an iPhone is pretty high.

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: Bring down drones by whatever means

            The obvious way to safely bring down an annoying drone is another drone fitted with a 12 gauge side-by-side.

            If additional noise is a consideration, a model airship fitted with a 12 gauge side-by-side could be substituted.

      2. Gary Bickford

        Re: the problem with drones...

        Paintball would be interesting.

      3. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: A suitably modified Kärcher?

        Well, do you have the maths to show how this is possible, because I've had three Karchers and not only would they be totally unable to put a jet of water up anywhere near the height we are talking and have any force whatsoever behind it, they can barely do the job they were designed for at three feet without failing quickly.

        Karcher one lasted about four years, used once per year on 100 ft of 6 foot fence before the pump stripped a gear.

        Number two just stopped working after two uses. Never was able to figure it out. I suspect the pressure detection switch mechanism failed. The motor just wouldn't run.

        Number three only made one year before the pressure coupling self-destructed so any attempt to use it caused the hose to eject with dangerous force *even though* the security collar was locked down tight.

        No more Karchers for me. I'll rent a proper gas powered pressure washer when I need one.

        That said, a twelve gauge side-by-side does a lousy job of cleaning the fence, so I suppose it all evens out.

        1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: A suitably modified Kärcher?

          "Number two just stopped working after two uses. Never was able to figure it out. I suspect the pressure detection switch mechanism failed. The motor just wouldn't run."

          I've had one for over a decade. Still runs fine. It does display an annoying tendency for the motor starting cap connection to vibrate loose from time to time. Simple fix: Open the case and push the cap. spade terminal back on (a little crimp helps with continued retention).

        2. Two Lips

          Re: A suitably modified Kärcher?

          Try Draper. Far superior to Karcher.

    4. DropBear Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: the problem with drones...

      Damn straight! Any pastime I have zero interest in should only be allowed in disused lavatories, and only in possession of a valid leopard hunting permit (which anyone can easily obtain at the South Pole at the winter solstice of any leap year for a modest fee of one trillion buckazoids as soon as they prove they can wrestle a polar bear)!

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: the problem with drones...

        Sorry, at the South Pole you'll only find Euclidian bears.

        1. tony2heads

          @Stoneshop

          Cartesian bears, I think

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: @Stoneshop

            Explaining why Euclidian and not Cartesian would be putting Descartes before the horse.

            (not all of them are square)

    5. L05ER

      Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

      yeah... this stopped me mid sentence.

      according to my drug dealer a pound is 448 grams... according to google it's 453.592.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

        according to my drug dealer a pound is 448 grams... according to google it's 453.592.

        Back in the day when such things were of interest to a much younger Git, an "ounce" was 30 gm, so a pound would have been 16 times that: 480 gm. Sounds like you're being ripped off for more than an "ounce".

        1. FredBloggs61

          Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

          @Pompous Git

          "Back in the day when such things were of interest to a much younger Git, an "ounce" was 30 gm, so a pound would have been 16 times that: 480 gm. Sounds like you're being ripped off for more than an "ounce"."

          Sorry to disagree, but I would say that in fact someone was being extremely generous with you.

          1 Ounce = 28.3495231 Grams

        2. AceRimmer

          Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

          Its a "Drug Dealers Pound"

          Analogous to a Bakers Dozen

          1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

            > Its a "Drug Dealers Pound" Analogous to a Baker's Dozen

            Except a baker waters his stuff down with water and drug dealers use oregano or rat poison whichever they think is best.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

          according to my drug dealer a pound is 448 grams... according to google it's 453.592.

          from a country that short changes you when buying a gallon compared to the English Imperial Unit, what's not to like about their weights being smaller too

          do you buy a has of hash? (1# =1 Lb)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: L05ER

        I'm just intrigued as to what you are buying a pound of (and if I can have some)

      3. Moonunit

        Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

        I'd go with the "WTF?" reaction to 1 Pound = 250g ... that said, if you meander across to Germany, you'll find that a Pound is accepted as 500g. Confused the heck out of me for a long time! Still nowhere near 250g, but is at least a nice, clean integer multiple gets our 250g to 500g. Is there a Hun somewhere, editing reports? (Disclaimer: I am allowed to say that as I am one these days!).

        A single malt. Because Paris is indeed lovely.

      4. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: according to my drug dealer a pound is 448 grams..

        Only numerically speaking.

  3. Commswonk Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

    Bother; I was hoping to be the first to point out this error. Whose maths failed; FAA or El Reg?

    Edit: that's odd; the original to which I was responding seems to have vanished... perhaps I am the first after all.

    1. L05ER

      Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

      beat me, but i researched ;)

      maybe because they changed the article to a closer, yet still inaccurate number.

      1. Dagg
        Mushroom

        Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

        It is 250 grams! bugger primitive archaic non standard not useful measurements. Can someone please drag the US (and sometimes the UK) into the 21st century!

        1. Ole Juul
          Joke

          Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

          whichever is less

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Only approved units (Was: Re: "250 grams (1 pound)")

            $ units

            Currency exchange rates from www.timegenie.com on 2014-04-02

            2886 units, 109 prefixes, 79 nonlinear units

            You have: 250 g

            You want: jubs

            * 0.05952381

            / 16.8

            You have:

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

          "Can someone please drag the US (and sometimes the UK) into the 21st century!"

          Do you mean by using binary? Or maybe hex?

          1. Alien8n Silver badge

            Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

            But what is it in Elephants? (Or do we measure in Mice given the smaller weights being used here?)

        3. Dan Paul

          Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

          Idiot, before you throw stones at others better get your facts straight!

          One pound is approximately 454 grams, one ounce is appx. 28 grams.

          Can someone cuff you in the ear and drag YOU back to grade school? You frikkin English invented the measurements and used them before you all became a bunch of metric wankers like the French.

          Metric is for wimps and surrender monkeys that can't do fractional math.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

            Unusually, I agree with Dan Paul. Base 10 is an awful way to run a measurement system. Base 12 can be divided by many more whole numbers (2, 3, 4, 6) to get sensible fractions, unlike base 10 (2, 5). Also, inches and feet are easily relatable units in sensible fractions - the gap between centimetre and metre is too big. Using them in language is not elegant either - much easier to ask for a foot of x than 30 centimetres.

            1. h4rm0ny
              Thumb Up

              Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

              >>"Unusually, I agree with Dan Paul. Base 10 is an awful way to run a measurement system. Base 12..."

              Finally! Other people who get this! The happenstance of evolution leaving most of us with ten fingers / ten toes is no basis for a system of mathematics. We were doing alright with this and then the bad at arithmetic mob ganged up and got decimalisation foisted upon us.

              1,000B = 1GB is the other one that drives me nuts. People to whom it made no difference at all what a 40GB drive meant so long as they could still say it was more GB for their £'s compared to a different HD they were considering, got whipped up by marketing departments to try and change definitions that didn't confuse a single soul who actually needed to work with these numbers and meant endless conversions whenever we did. Raise it and you get dogmatic waving of SI prefixes. Consistency - a tool to smart people and a crutch to stupid ones.

              1. Kevin Johnston

                Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

                Been saying this for soooo long now....

                We are engineers, a major ethos of engineering is 'Appropriate units/tolerances' and just as you would not measure the distance from Cardiff to Glasgow in millimetres/inches/angstroms, nor would you insist on a unit for fashion reasons.

                What are you measuring, what is you tolerance - that will indicate the most appropriate unit.

                Don't forget, a very large part of UK measurements are still done in Imperial because there is no real benefit to change it. Anyone want to guess how much it would cost to change all the road signs and car speedometer/odometers?

              2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

                Thanks, H4rm0ny! My eyes were opened to this point by a young maths genius on TV some years ago. Just as Kevin says, the right units for the job are what is needed. A kilometre is too short a distance to measure big distances, a mile is about right. I'd be happy for leagues to come back for really big distances, to be honest.

                Out of interest, are any downvoters going to come back and explain their point of view?

  4. Rusty 1
    Happy

    "... Boggs is ..."

    Oh do please tell us that other parties were Bunce and Bean.

  5. LDS Silver badge

    So now flying a kite...

    ... or even jumping a bit too high and a bit too long should fall under FAA rules? Pole vault athletes should ask for a take off clearance before jumping?

    Anyway, flying drones over inhabited areas (and roads) should needs some kind of regulation - there are safety and privacy issues to take into account.

    Even Dilbert thought about it... http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-06-17 <G>

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: So now flying a kite...

      > flying drones over inhabited areas (and roads) should needs some kind of regulation

      Why drones and not a kite?

      Have we got here already? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dead_Past

    2. Franklin

      Re: So now flying a kite...

      There are situations in which flying a kite can indeed get you in hot water with the FAA; I went to school with a fellow who landed in trouble when he flew a kite about a quarter mile from the runway of a local airport.

      The specific situation of being that close to an airport aside, yes, the FAA thinks it can, and occasionally does, get testy about kite-flying.

      1. Jos V

        Re: So now flying a kite...

        Out here where I reside, the major international airport has this problem all the time:

        NOTAM (Notice to Airman):

        007300000/1010302359

        CTN ADZ DUE TO MANY KITES IN VICINITY OF AD. ALL ACFT AFTER TKOF TO

        MAINTAIN RWY HEADING UNTIL PASSING

        3000FT OR AS INSTRUCTED BY ATC

        SFC UP TO 3000

        Kites are endemic here, and the authorities won't chase them out of the skies as the narrow streets around the airport are too hard to navigate through (this is Indonesia).

        I'd suspect the FAA and airport authorities in the US would hold a dim view to this kind of activity.

      2. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: So now flying a kite...

        @Franklin: come on Ben, you of all people should know freedom to fly kites is integral to getting more kids interested in a properly sparky STEM education...

      3. LDS Silver badge

        Re: So now flying a kite...

        Flying anything nearby an airport is a different matter, and FAA may have good reasons for a tighter control around airports (where even static items may be a danger) within reasonable limits - but asserting it has jurisdiction over everything above ground may lead to absurd situations.

        Maybe I should start to ask the birds in my garden to follow proper FAA rules, or I'll stop feeding them in the Winter... and give the cat a FAA Inspector badge.

        That said, I know some kind of advanced kites may be a risk too - just like airplane or rockets models. Maybe the difference is just they rarely appeal to the average moron, and are rarely sold at the local electronics store.

  6. Scarsdale

    Of course, there's the small matter that $2000 in 1946 is over $26,000 today (source: http://www.in2013dollars.com/1946-dollars-in-2016?amount=2000 ).

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      ...and also the small matter that the current guy is claiming for an admittedly quite expensive toy as opposed to his business and livelihood.

      Although I do find it a little strange that $1500 will cover both his $1800 toy plus his court costs.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "Although I do find it a little strange that $1500 will cover both his $1800 toy plus his court costs."

        Depreciation. Thanks to Chinese knockoffs, drones are getting less expensive by the month. What cost $1800 then is only $1500 now.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          I'd assume the damage to the drone was only actually a few hundred bucks, perhaps in the form of a new circuit board or a new motor. The balance of the cost being what the lawyer charged to file the paperwork. I'll go further and say the lawyer is also considering whether this gets tossed and he's done his bit or if it goes ahead and he's looking to become the next Cochran, Bailey, Dershowitz, or Kardashian and make a a fortune down the road.

      2. Dabooka Silver badge

        I read it differently;

        I read it as "$1,500 plus court costs" meaning he wanted $1,500 and then, in addition, the cost of taking him to court? No?

  7. scrubber

    In dispute?

    While everyone is bickering over ownership the Chinese are busy building runways in the sky.

    1. Magani
      Black Helicopters

      Re: In dispute?

      "While everyone is bickering over ownership the Chinese are busy building runways in the sky."

      And on reclaimed land in the South China Sea...

      1. Stuart Elliott
        Facepalm

        Re: In dispute?

        Whoosh!

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: In dispute?

          "Whoosh!"

          Stop trolling, we know you're Randall's bot.

  8. martinusher Silver badge

    Its the camera, stupid.

    I'd expect exactly the same reaction from my neighbor if I attached a camera to a long pole and used that to look at his yard. (Maybe not exactly the same reaction -- not all Americans shoot stuff on sight.)(Also, not all of them think that everyone's a perv after their kids.) You have to use a bit of common sense when you're flying these things.

    Model aircraft are slightly different from quadcopters in that they're not purpose built camera platforms. You can mount cameras on them but you get the same sort of view you'd get from a low flying aircraft -- you can tell where you are but you're not able to pick out details. Despite this you still have to give assurances to homeowners that you're not carrying cameras ("Thank you, drone owners").

    Amazon's idea of using traffic space won't fly. They seem to think that model aircraft are toys that fly around in front of your face. Some are; a lot are more serious and need a lot more room to fly them. My interest is in gliders -- unpowered planes. These can be quite large -- 3 or 4 meter wingspan is typical but they're made larger -- and some specialist types can be flown quite fast ("but not near people") -- the current speed record for dynamic soaring is a little north of 500mph. People make them for all sorts of reasons, one is that they just like modelling but its also a useful research vehicle for testing out design concepts and construction techniques (no, we don't make them out of balsa....).

    1. ZSn

      Re: Its the camera, stupid.

      I used to fly manned gliders (the proper sail-plane variety), they normally maxed out at 130 knots, how on earth did they manage to get one up to 500 mph? Even straight down I doubt it would go over 150-200 knots. Was that in a thunderstorm?

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Its the camera, stupid.

        > how on earth did they manage to get one up to 500 mph?

        """ The highest speeds reported are by radio controlled gliders at 513 mph (826 km/h)"""

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_soaring

        Also see:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFPJ6DUAY10

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Its the camera, stupid.

      I'd expect exactly the same reaction from my neighbor if I attached a camera to a long pole and used that to look at his yard. (Maybe not exactly the same reaction -- not all Americans shoot stuff on sight.)(Also, not all of them think that everyone's a perv after their kids.) You have to use a bit of common sense when you're flying these things.

      Given my neighbor's size and temperament it's very likely that such a pole would wind up rather uncomfortably lodged in the lower anatomy or the original pole holder, camera and all. Given that, the drone pilot should consider himself lucky.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Law in the UK is clearer.

      " Overhanging branches of a neighbours trees [...]"

      To lop the higher branches you usually need access to the neighbour's property for a ladder. If they refuse you appear to be stymied. Tree surgeons refuse to get involved unless there is clear permission from the neighbour - even if they don't need to rest the ladder against the tree.

      Official local arbitration on hedge disputes apparently only applies if the tall hedge is composed of two or more evergreens. My neighbour's large ash, sycamore, and single holly therefore do not qualify.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Law in the UK is clearer.

        A legitimate use for a chainsaw equipped drone, to cut off the overhang while staying entirely in your own yard.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Law in the UK is clearer.

          "A legitimate use for a chainsaw equipped drone [,,,]"

          I suspect a drone is too light to apply any real pressure to the saw to counteract the bounce from the blade's rotation.

          An electric chainsaw on a very long pole would also do it - possibly. However there are two snags.

          1) a chainsaw can get trapped in the cut and needs freeing manually.

          2) when the branch is cut it can "hinge" rather than drop cleanly. There's a lot of weight in such a branch plus its momentum. It will damage anything that it hits - in this case the neighbour's fence.

          Both these events happened recently when a tree surgeon was pruning a nearby tree.

          As it is I will just have to hope that the ash tree gets taken out by the "die back" plague. That will stop its expanding canopy from blocking the afternoon sun in my garden.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Law in the UK is clearer.

        They might not "qualify" but if you are inferring what i think you are inferring, then a good spraying of glyphosate applied at night will deal with your hedge problem...

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Law in the UK is clearer.

          Is the 500 foot rule mentioned in the article an FAA one? The article suggests light aircraft must remain above 500 feet. The CAA rule is something like "except for the purposes of take off or landing, 500 feet FROM any vehicle, vessel, person or structure". Note those 4 items you must stay 500 feet from do not include the ground or water. If you can in the crowded UK stay far enough away from any of those then you are free to hedge hop without breaking a low flying rule (they will probably try and get you on another rule though).

          During PPL training, one of the fun parts of the course is the practice forced landing, the aircraft doesn't actually land but some instructors like to take the opportunity for a bit of hedge-hopping.

          1. Sir Alien

            Re: Law in the UK is clearer.

            I know I am always pissing on peoples fun but here is a snippet I found regarding the CAA (in the UK) so no hedge hopping for you sadly. Don't take my word for it though as I could be wrong (or the source is, not surprised if they are).

            """An unmanned aircraft must always be flown at least 50m distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure."""

            I do enjoy a little drone action myself but more for the experimental and tinkering at an engineering level.

    2. DocJames
      Headmaster

      Re: Law in the UK is clearer.

      The lower stratum is concerned with the portion immediately above the land and interference with this air space would effect the landowner’s reasonable enjoyment of the land and the structures upon it.

      I think you mean affect, unless the interference is the cause of the reasonable enjoyment.

      But upvoted despite my grammar nazi tendencies for such an informative post.

  10. Turtle

    Not Quite Right.

    "The owner of the drone, neighbor David Boggs, was unsurprisingly not happy about the situation and confronted Merideth, who then threatened him with a handgun."

    The original story as published here on The Register was that Boggs along with three friends went to confront Meredith. If four people came to my house confront me, I'd also have had my firearms handy and prominently displayed (if I actually had such - which I don't.)

  11. etapusrex

    More Drone Hysteria

    A pervert would climb a tree and use a telephoto lens. A crook would do a midnight check of your mail or a random knock on your door. Neither would use a device that requires you to stand around - in the open - to operate and sounds like a swarm of bees descending on a location. This drone hysteria is really getting old. People need to quit feeding it.

    I have a 4k Camera with a rock steady gimble and you can't tell a man from a woman at 100 ft. Any closer than that, and it sounds like you are literally standing in a bees nest. It is probably the WORST possible 'spy' equipment you could use.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. maffski

      Re: More Drone Hysteria

      Unless the crook was a swarm of bees. The drone of a drone would be perfect cover. And whenever you see them about they're already wearing their stripey jumpers.

      Bees - don't trust 'em

    3. h4rm0ny

      Re: More Drone Hysteria

      >>"A crook would do a midnight check of your mail or a random knock on your door"

      You're allowing your preconceptions to get the better of you. Drones are affordable and easy to use. Plenty of "criminals" have them. And yes, it's just as effective to be able to fly a drone past a house's upper windows peering in than it is to walk up to a door, knock and risk being spotted by neighbours or people who were at home after all; or to take the chance that maybe they just weren't bothering to answer the door. Possibly even more effective.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: More Drone Hysteria

        it's just as effective to be able to fly a drone past a house's upper windows peering in than it is to walk up to a door, knock and risk being spotted by neighbours or people who were at home after all

        LOL. Those dopey neighbours will think a human walking up to a door (in a courier vest) is highly suspicious but a noisy, wobbly flying vehicle with a camera hanging beneath it on a gimble and a bloke standing with a remote control aerial is not!

        If a drone was useful to aid in burglary, then that would only be for isolated, empty building. In a built up area they would be one of the most useless tool a burglar could possibly use. He might as well post leaflets through all the doors in the street telling them that he intends to do a burglary there in the near future.

        The real problem with drones is their potential to fall on somebody and injure them. For perving or burglary, forget it.

    4. Dabooka Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: More Drone Hysteria

      @etapusrex

      What a crock of shit; so what you're saying is, that as the operator can't make enough detail out at 100ft I have no right to be concered or curious about what the fuck are they doing? I'm expected to be happy with the fact that they probably can't really see any detail?

      By the same stretch I suppose I shouldn't worry about the Snoopers Charter or GCHQ / NSA hoovering everything up? You know, as there's nothing to find why should I even care they're doing it?

      I can't believe you're on these boards.......

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: More Drone Hysteria

        "I can't believe you're on these boards"

        It's his first post. Maybe he's one of these new manglement types the proprietors are trying to attract.

    5. Glenturret Single Malt

      Re: More Drone Hysteria

      Is gimble = gimbal?

    6. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: More Drone Hysteria

      "A pervert would climb a tree and use a telephoto lens."

      No sir, a pervert these days would subvert the cameras included for no readily apparent reason into your IoT lightbulbs and stream video of you to YouTube while he and his pals laughed their faces off.

      Stop admiring the shiny for a moment and think. If Boggs and his 3 man crew *weren't* the neighborhood trash, why aren't his outraged neighbors demanding justice for him?

      There's a clear subtext in this story. I'm not saying it's the one I'm hinting at, but doesn't it strike anyone else that it's suspicious how quiet everyone else in the nabe is being? How many times has Boggs decamped mob-handed to sort out some issue?

      Okay, forget the thug gang factor.

      Three (male) pals just happened to be nearby? Four guys? With a drone-mounted camera? And young girls sunbathing?

      That's called reasonable doubt and is why the case was thrown out of criminal court.

      Boggs is now relying on Preponderance of Evidence to make the dice fall his way in civil court. He thinks he is onto a winner because Shotgunguy admits firing the gun *at* the drone - I doubt this was Boggs' own idea. Some ambulance-chasing bottom feeder personal liability attorney has likely been agitating.

      And now Shotgunguy has to lawyer up.

      All because Boggs either doesn't have the sense evolution gave a cowpat or he thought with his three bros on hand he could behave any damned way he liked.

      At least, that's how it looks to me in the absence of any actual facts.

  12. flyguy

    Practicalities

    I'm a UK airline pilot. I can't comment (usefully) on the legal aspects of these devices.

    With regards to the Amazon proposal: I think it is certainly something we'll see in the future. There are serious obstacles (no pun intended) to overcome before I can ever see it becoming reality.

    In commercial aviation, safety is a priority, or at least it should be. How would Amazon deal with a failure of an in-flight drone on a delivery? Until they can safely land a drone with a technical problem, then I can't see it becoming reality. Bearing in mind that these are likely to be operating in built-up areas. The risks to people and property is high. The risk of collisions with other drones is relatively small and can be mitigated by good policies.

    But when a drone goes through your greenhouse, conservatory or worse your precious Corsa,... Well.

    1. Magani
      Joke

      Re: Practicalities

      "But when a drone goes through... your precious Corsa..."

      Pay rates for airframe drivers seemed to have slipped in the UK, then?

      1. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Practicalities

        As long as it's written off, owner of said Corsa would probably be rather pleased.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Practicalities

      "precious Corsa"

      Does not compute.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Practicalities

        I love my corsa! because its worth so little it dosent matter if anything happens to it , including drone strike

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Practicalities

      Until they can safely land a drone with a technical problem, then I can't see it becoming reality.

      So at least some of their payload will have to be taken up by an effective auto deployed and autonomous parachute system and they would be required to fly at a minimum altitude for effective parachute deployment except when they are above their take off and landing areas where they will use a vertical ascent/descent.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hysterical

    They are only drones whilst in the air.

    Once they're on the ground, they're Varmints - literally a Low-Down Varmint - and you're allowed to blast those.

  14. Mark 85 Silver badge

    A big part of the problem would seem be the camera, or looking at the ground. If you're flying an R/C airplane, watching the plane fly, controlling it, etc. is the name of the game. With drones... it's obviously the video from the drone that's the big part.

    So I may own the ground and the FCC may own the air. But who regulates the camera? If the drone were just something you'd fly and zoom around like the R/C aircraft, no problem. Photographing what's on the ground (like a sunbathing neighbor) is something else.

    These two need to be blended somewhere. Once upon a time, it was common courtesy that you didn't intrude on the neighbor's privacy. Now it seems the norm. Privacy from all sectors, tech, government, and now the neighbors is becoming hard to find.

  15. Jos V

    Missed it?

    There was a drone introduced at CES, capable of carrying a person. Our flying cars are coming!

    http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/06/technology/ces-2016-ehang-drone/index.html

    Did the Reg miss this? I think this would really keep the ball rolling on the discussion about using airspace, if it ever flies ;-)

    1. Boothy

      Re: Missed it?

      The Reg seem to have completely missed CES this time, which is a shame, plenty of stories and tech to discuss there at the moment.

      Would have made for quite a few good forum discussions, an opportunity missed.

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: Missed it?

        They have been too busy writing snarky Democrat political comments in to all their articles and silencing the two remaining somewhat conservative contributors, Page and Worstall.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Missed it?

          Yes, quite how Worstalls services were no longer required while presumably still forking out for the wrong-headed bilge Potty trots out every month is beyond me.

          #BBW

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Missed it?

            >>"Yes, quite how Worstall's services were no longer required while presumably still forking out for the wrong-headed bilge Potty trots out every month is beyond me."

            Yeah, Worstall wrote stuff I'd disagree with very strongly sometimes, but he can at least support his arguments and has an interesting take on things. Potts has previously tried to find out the real identity of posters who's posts he didn't like and has expressed more than clearly how if he met me in real life the only thing stopping him from assaulting me would be if there was a risk of legal consequence. And he took the time to emphasize this wasn't just Internet trash talk but that he'd genuinely like to give me a kicking. Worse, I find his articles tiresome.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: Missed it?

              Potts has previously tried to find out the real identity of posters who's posts he didn't like and has expressed more than clearly how if he met me in real life the only thing stopping him from assaulting me would be if there was a risk of legal consequence. And he took the time to emphasize this wasn't just Internet trash talk but that he'd genuinely like to give me a kicking.

              Wow, that is outrageous. If that is the fullness of the situation then he has no place writing articles here or anywhere else.

              I'm sure you & I have disagreed on a number of things, but I've no desire to unmask you nor would I wish you any harm. Disagreement is a fundamental requirement of debate, and debate is the purpose of the comments section.

              Despite the generally lefty slant of El Reg, I've always taken the view that commentards were marginally (Marginally!!) a cut above other sites, and slightly more civilized and educated [1] in their treatment of others.

              1 - I mean as in facts & citations appear more often than cup sizes and fart jokes. I don't mean we more degrees than posters, though I suppose that may be possible....

  16. bill 30

    But your honor....

    I was only playing tennis... honest, the machine must have moved

    http://www.strictlytennis.net/lobsterballmachine.htm

  17. Grikath

    easy...

    You hang a camera platform low enough over or near enough private property containing sunbathing people of any denomination or age to be in ballistic range of whatever is at hand, for long enough to actually make pictures, you're going to suffer the loss of said camera platform.

    And count your lucky stars when you're not getting a short, percussive lesson in propriety to bring the message home.

    But I'm probably an old-fashioned troglodite.

    1. Tom 13
      Thumb Up

      Re: But I'm probably an old-fashioned troglodite.

      That's okay. I for one am convinced the world needs more old-fashioned troglodites like us.

  18. John Tserkezis

    This David Boggs character has something really wrong with him.

    See, he's suing a guy who, we have proved through a variety of docuements, has a shotgun, isn't afraid to use it, and isn't taking crap from anyone.

    1. aelfheld

      Re: This David Boggs character has something really wrong with him.

      Can't fix stupid.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should be interesting watching the field events when the next American Olympics comes round if anything above ground and weighing over a pound is the benchark.

  20. promacjoe2

    It is one thing to fly a drone over your own property. It is another to take a drone, equipped with a camera and fly it over someone else's property. Clearly the intent was to take pictures of that property and anything else on the property. That is an invasion of privacy and anything under treetop level +100 feet, should be considered trespassing as well.

    someone mentioned that they had a camera equipped drone And they could not determine the difference between men and women at a very short distance. I don't know what kind of camera you have, but it must be very low resolution, And it must be equipped with a very poor lens. My mother's Nikon cool pics camera, Has a 16 megapixel sensor and a lens equivalent to I believe 1800 mm. with that camera set up, you definitely should be able to distinguish a man from a woman at even 1000 feet. And cameras are only getting more powerful. Even some camera phones have a 40+ megapixel sensor. A new camera has just been announced that has a 100 megapixel sensor. We have a local TV station here that has a helicopter equipped with a camera that can see what's happening even 5 miles away. And that camera was first used in the 90s. And has been upgraded to high-definition. Fortunately they know better than to use this camera maliciously. and I saw a video a while back of a camera system that could take a video of a 10 square-mile area, and you could definitely tell a man from a woman, and even if that Person was smoking a cigarette. The camera system was being developed for the military, For use in drones.

    I recently viewed my house on Google maps, and I can tell that my yard man was cutting the grass, and I could tell where he had cut and what needed to be cut.

    don't fool yourself, cameras are getting very good at producing high-quality images.

    if we do not make laws now, it will git way out of hand very quickly.

    And by the way, here in the US, there is a law in many states that governs the focal length of the lens used to take pictures of someone's property without their permission. Normal lenses are allowed, but telephoto lenses in the extreme range are not. You'll have to look up the laws in your state to see If it applies to you, and what that focal length is.

    in this case, the court has already found that the guy was in his rights to shoot the drone down.

    That means that the courts has already decided that the drone was trespassing, in a very worrying if not malicious fashion. It remains to be seen whether the lawsuit has any merit or not.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "That means that the courts has already decided that the drone was trespassing, in a very worrying if not malicious fashion. It remains to be seen whether the lawsuit has any merit or not."

      The problem is that the drone is large enough to fall under the FAA's mandate, and their mandate attaches to any and all aircraft, manned or unmanned, bigger than about a foot in wingspan or diameter, regardless of its location within US territorial airspace. The suit (which is being filed in federal court) is claiming this means the FAA's jurisdiction takes precedence, trumping the earlier state court ruling.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: is claiming this means the FAA's jurisdiction takes precedence

        In my professional experience, I've found lawyers lie a lot, especially when making initial claims in court.

        The FAA may have precedence for planes, but not for privacy. Also, when you appeal, you don't get to redetermine facts. Only the initial hearing can do that.

        After checking just the first paragraph of the filing, I think the case gets tossed. Boggs was clearly not "traversing" the airspace. He was spying on them and frankly given the noise a drone makes, harassing them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interesting....

      Just what photos are you taking with your mothers Nikon Coolpix?

      I find it interesting that you know that you can "be able to distinguish a man from a woman at even 1000 feet." and feel that you need to look up the laws regarding extreme telephoto lenses, as well as researching cameras to take high quality images, 40MP camera phone.. etc.

      I also find it interesting that you infer that somebody (who probably has a fairly/extremely wide angle lens, as is usual with multi-rotors) had a obvious intent to take photos of the property and anything on it. Not projecting at all are we?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Interesting....

        He didn't have specific intent to photograph the property, but everything under the drone's path as part of an aerial film. He had increased height to 278 feet when it was shot down, and the property was one that was being crossed as the thing transited from one place to another.

        I probably could have got a as good an image of the property from Google Earth Pro.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Interesting....

          >>"He had increased height to 278 feet when it was shot down"

          Correction. He claims he had increased height to 278 feet. Whether or not he did is another matter, but it contradicts statements by neighbours and family. And whilst I'm not an expert, shooting down a drone with shot (police records show the ammo is #6 shot) at 92 yards straight upwards, seems something of a feet to me.

          He did produce a map on his iPad he says is the path, but I shouldn't have to explain on a tech news site the ease of editing a text file (which is typically how drone telemetry is stored) and showing it to people a few months later.

        2. Tom 13

          Re: He didn't have specific intent to photograph the property

          Oh, that's an outright lie. The drone was hovering over the property. That's proven by the fact that Meredith had time to retrieve his shotgun and shoot it down after he saw it.

          1. RubberJohnny

            Re: He didn't have specific intent to photograph the property

            That's proven by the fact that Meredith had time to retrieve his shotgun and shoot it down after he saw it.

            How do we know he had to go and retrieve his shotgun? He is an American yokel FFS. And anyway, had he seen the drone flying in the general area he could have got the gun ready and waited for it to come within range.

            However, having shot trap down the line before, even with a long choked down barrel and heavy shot, 80 metres is a bit of a stretch.

      2. promacjoe2

        Re: Interesting....

        I find it interesting That someone with so Little knowledge of a subject, Will comment as if they knew everything about it. I admit, I do not know everything about the subject, but I am an amateur photographer as is my brother and sister. as such, we need to know what the limits are within the law. And I study everything I can about the subject, so I do not infringe on someone else's rights. Something that every amateur photographer as well as any professional should do. As far as my mother's Nikon cool pics camera, I don't use it. I use a Pentax K3. A professional grade camera. My longest lens is 500 mm. The effective focal length is 750 mm. Using that lens, I can take pictures of deer 50 to 75 yards away, and be able to count the hairs in the ear. I use the Nikon cool pics, because it was light and would be easy to mount on the drone. and with an effective focal length equal to 1800 mm, You should easily be able to tell the difference between a man and woman it 1000 feet. that is unless your drone vibrate so violently that it would blur the image. In that case I suggest you balance the props, to reduce vibration.

        And as far as the intent goes, if he did not intend to take pictures, why did he have a camera mounted on his drone. and if he hovered over the house long enough for the guy to run inside get his shotgun and then come out and shoot it out of the air, he obviously was not just crossing the property to take pictures of someone else's property. Besides if he was going to take pictures of someone else's property, he should've taken off and landed from that property, And stay within the confines of that property.

        the arguments that I have read, and I do not know all the details, just does not make sense to me.

        Neighbors communicate with each other, they don't spy on each other.

        maybe you should find a good psychiatrist to help you with your trust issues. and stop attacking people and insinuating that they might be doing something wrong. It's just not good manners.

        and by the way, I don't have a camera phone that has a memory card in it, so I cannot use it to take pictures. and I don't intend to install a memory card. and the reason I know about the 40+ megapixel camera phone, theregister wrote an article about it several years ago.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your mum's Nikon, a large purpose-designed stabilised camera turret built into a TV station's helicopter, and a small-CCD camera strapped to a small drone vibrating away like a hammer drill, are very, very different beasts when it comes to the image quality they can deliver.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      The smaller drones may not have the same quality of some cameras, but most drones are designed to get good enough quality images or videos. The on-board camera is not just a navigation device, it's an image capture device.

      Even a Parrot can deliver a video good enough to satisfy a peeper. He's not interested in high quality images, his usually interested in the "emotions" given by the very act of peeping.

  22. wolfetone Silver badge

    The Dad Was Well Within His Right To Shoot The Drone

    So I fully expect that the American justice system will rule in favour of the owner of the drone, and the Dad will be found guilty.

    1. aelfheld

      Re: The Dad Was Well Within His Right To Shoot The Drone

      Unfortunately, you may well be right.

  23. Edward Phillips

    UK Law

    In the UK, in Bernstein of Leigh v Skyviews & General Ltd [1978] 1 QB 479 it was held that a (manned) plane overflying properties (once) and taking a photo (one) was not trespass (they were selling the owners photos of their houses from the air, in pre-Google days). It overturned the previous (13th century) maxim Cujus est solum ejus est usque ad coelum et ad inferos (for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to heaven and down to hell) for the air, saying instead that property owners only have rights over the air above their property to such height as is necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of his land. There are earlier cases - in 1815 it was decided that floating across land in a balloon wasn't trespass, nor was firing a bullet across it (unless it landed or hit an animal).

    The court did say that if a claimant was subjected to the harassment of constant surveillance from the air, accompanied by the photographing of his every activity then that would be a "monstrous invasion of privacy" and an actionable nuisance (for which damages would be given). Nowadays the Data Protection Act 1998 rights would also apply.

    Overhanging cranes can constitute trespass and it is common for crane operators to get a licence from neighbouring owners.

    More generally, the relevant Air Navigation Order 2009 (SI 2009/3015) imposes rules on flying in congested areas or within 50m of any person. Breach of the ANO is a criminal offence for which people have been prosecuted.

    s.76 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 imposes liability for any damage caused on the ground (if the drone crashes into your greenhouse). That was for manned planes but it is thought to extend to drones. Also Regulation (EC) No 785/2004 requires all commercial air operators (including drones) to have insurance. Private model aeroplanes have an exception.

    1. John Arthur
      Headmaster

      Re: UK Law

      I have given you a thumbs-up but being a pedant I couldn't resist pointing out it is 'infernos', not 'inferos'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: UK Law

        Wikipedia appears to think both are correct. Can't vouch for that though, I don't speak Latin.

  24. BurnT'offering

    FAA owns above 400 feet?

    So, if I build a building taller than 400ft, do I have to register the top floors as an aircraft?

    1. DocJames
      Joke

      Re: FAA owns above 400 feet?

      Yes. You'll get a callsign and need to file a flight plan. Every so often air traffic control will ask if you're still there.

    2. Fink-Nottle

      Re: FAA owns above 400 feet?

      The 400ft rule applies to a lot of technical stuff, however when it comes to crime & violence such as piracy or shooting at FAA registered craft, the law defines the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.

      Through this provision the FAA could claim "special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States" for all registered drones anywhere in the world (or a foreign owned drone whose flightpath lands in the US and certain other cases) for the period starting upon completion of "preflight preparation of an aircraft by ground personnel or by the crew for a specific flight until 24 hours after any landing".

      So, no matter where you are in the world, think twice about shooting a drone or assaulting it's crew. If it's registered with the FAA you'd be committing a Federal crime and could look forward to some extraordinary rendition fun!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hosed by water

    No lasting evidence

    1. foo_bar_baz
      Holmes

      Re: Hosed by water

      Except for the film footage from the drone.

  26. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    i dont even seem to own my land at ground level - the council wont give me planning permission for anything

  27. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I guess " You cant take the sky from me" isnt true after all :(

  28. Ian K
    Gimp

    "and why it may decide who owns the skies"

    "Take my love, take my land. Take me where I cannot stand.

    I don't care, I'm still free. You can't take the sky from me[1]."

    [1] Unless you're the FAA, in which case you'll at least give it a go.

    1. BoldMan

      Re: "and why it may decide who owns the skies"

      Gorram!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FAA

    Not withstanding my always having supported the guy shooting the thing down; I've long considered the FAA responsible for hundreds, if not thousands of deaths by not mandating aircraft component design changes anything like soon enough, or being lax about implementing them, the most credible explanation for which being what they care/cared about are the profits of Boeing/McDonnel Douglas.

    Shame it wasn't an FAA drone.

    1. Gary Bickford

      Re: FAA

      I could just as easily argue the opposite - the excessive cost and delay involved in FAA (and FCC) approval has resulted in many newer advancements not being available, or too expensive to bring to market, or too expensive for normal people to buy. Case in point - 30 years ago $2500 aircraft radios had terrible sound quality and not very good reception or reliability compared with $100 CB radios, largely because the amortised cost of approvals by both agencies when even one resistor was changed on the circuit worked out to over $1000 (1980 dollars) per unit - after development costs. From what I've read even today much or most aircraft equipment is using seriously old technology for the same reason.

      In truth, there is a happy medium somewhere.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: FAA

        Not when it comes to safety in a vehicle that weighs many tons, operates at over 10,000 meters most of the time in air pressures too low to breathe, and have been known to get pretty finnicky. The primary reason for all the rigamarole is electromagnetic interference; there's a constant concern even one little adjustment will snowball, cause an airliner to crash, kill hundreds of people, and create lots of finger-pointing. Engineering may be the art of making do with as little as possible, but what price a life? How do you accomplish the goals of an engineer when lost lives are not acceptable?

        1. Vic

          Re: FAA

          The primary reason for all the rigamarole is electromagnetic interference; there's a constant concern even one little adjustment will snowball, cause an airliner to crash

          Nope. The biggest concern is interference with the magnetic compass[1], which has always been the primary navigation instrument. Since the advent of GNSS, that might be going away...

          Vic.

          [1] The aircraft I fly are have placards to tell you the measured compass error when the radio is switched on.

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: FAA

      FAA has no enforcement powers. Your rage is better directed at the aerospace industries that underbuild or the airlines that undermaintain.

  30. Commswonk Silver badge

    Aye, there's the rub...

    promacjoe2 wrote if we do not make laws now, it will get way out of hand very quickly.

    Much as it is doing in respect of the wretched IoT, which seems to be racing ahead with goverment support, at least in the UK. OTOH legislation introduced with undue haste is likely to result in so many anomalies and loopholes that any law thus enacted is either useless from the outset or becomes so very shortly therafter, bringing the law (and the Law, if you see the distinction) into disrepute.

    Technology is moving so fast that any legislative limitations on its use are likely to be so far behind it that the exercise becomes pointless to the extent of being futile. Note that I said technology is "moving", not progressing or developing because some "developments" are not inherently advantageous to the human species (or even others, come to think of it) if only because we seem to be too willing to be its slaves, not its masters.

    Trying to write a law covering drones that would provide proper discrimination between snooping (actual or potential) and Jeff Bezos' plan to use drones for Amazon deliveries could prove very troublesome... which is not to say that I necessarily see any serious merit in his plan either; gimmickry dressed up as an essential to modern life.

  31. JJKing Silver badge
    Coat

    If he can shoot down 4 more drones, that guy becomes an Ace. Woohoo!

  32. Sporkinum

    I am guessing all this drone brouhaha is what is holding up permission to launch LOHAN?

  33. sisk Silver badge

    It seems to me that the law is already quite clear on this subject. The FAA's authority begins at 400ft - confirmed over and over and over by legal precedence - and a property owners rights extend at least to 83ft based on existing precedence. Basically this guy has zero chance - short of a judge willing to discard existing precedence (which, given it came from SCOTUS, any judge likely to hear the case would be overstepping their authority to do) - of winning this case and getting the money to replace his drone.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arm the drones

    Equip innocent drones with shotguns. It is really the only logical answer.

  35. aelfheld

    Sauce for the goose

    Hopefully Merideth will sue Boggs for a solid six-figure sum.

    Boggs was, as the judge noted, at fault but it was Merideth that was arrested & required to appear in court.

  36. Fred Bauer
    Stop

    FAA enforedes airspace restrictions to ground level

    The FAA *DOES* exercise authority below 500 ft, and over model aircraft. They have recently banned the operation of any model aircraft within 30 miles of Washington, DC, and have shut down AMA fields. They don't recognize 83 feet or anything else, if it's airborne they assert that they have authority over it.

    http://amablog.modelaircraft.org/amagov/2015/12/30/ama-finding-a-solution-for-special-flight-rules-area-sfra-in-the-d-c-area/

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: FAA enforedes airspace restrictions to ground level

      Whether they choose to recognize the (well established) fact that they have no legal authority at all below 83 feet and only very questionable authority up to 400 feet is irrelevant. The courts have repeatedly ruled against them in such matters, as noted in the article.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: FAA enforedes airspace restrictions to ground level

        They do. Their authority attaches to the aircraft, not the air. As long as it flies and is larger than, say, a foot in dimension, they FAA holds legal authority via various acts that define its authority. That's why FAA regulations apply to aircraft even when they're on the ground.

        Where authority over the air comes in is that the FAA can regulate what can go into regulated airspace. So, for example, aircraft that can climb over 500 feet need to follow FAA rules regarding flight plans and so on, so as to reduce the risk of incursions and collisions. They don't have such controlling authority at lower altitudes, but they still have a say over the aircraft themselves.

  37. Jonjonz

    New Piracy Opp

    New opp in air piracy, outfit a big drone to latch on and hijack delivery drones or just follow them around and pick up the parcels after the initial delivery.

  38. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Simple question...

    Visualize a balloon-suspended person hovering just above the ground at various heights.

    A millimeter. Indistinguishable from trespassing. .: The answer is clearly not near zero.

    Therefore it's clearly an arbitrary height.

    Chair. Popcorn. Beer.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Simple question...

      Unless it's a cop rappelling from a police chopper (assume it's SWAT). He's in the line of duty, so he's allowed to trespass if the police have a warrant that grants them forcible entry.

  39. Two Lips
    Mushroom

    America bases civil rights upon ballistics...

    No change there then.

    I shot and killed him, therefore he must've been guilty. And subsequently had no right to life.

    Ethics and logic from the most aggressive nation on the planet.

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