On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) released their newest draft of the Tort Law Relating to Drones Act. The ULC is proposing a tort law relating to drones, which would give homeowners the right to sue drone operators for flying over their private property under certain conditions.
The first draft, released in July 2018, was met with much opposition from the drone industry. You can read what industry leaders had to say about the draft in our previous article: Drone industry reacts to ULC Drone Aerial Trespass Draft Tort Law.
Who is the ULC?
ULC is a private nonprofit, state-supported association made up of lawyers tasked with providing states with “nonpartisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.”
What does the new draft propose?
The new draft attempts to address some of the issues found in the first draft: for instance, it creates a more narrow definition of aerial trespass that includes the terms “substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of the property,” and defines “substantial interference.”
The new draft also includes clauses about the accidental or unavoidable landing of a drone on private property, and specifies that landowners must return a drone that lands on their property to the operator.
In a recent blog post, WhiteFox Defense responds to the proposed changes with this, “we maintain that a person’s moral entitlement to the enjoyment of their land is contextual with the technology of the time. Though drones offer new concerns of disruption for homeowners, their worries pale when compared to the nuisances offered by traditional aircraft.” They state that their original response to the ULC Tort Law is unmoved by the updated ULC draft.
Though, this draft is a small improvement, it is far from being embraced by the drone industry. It still unnecessarily burdens both hobby and commercial drone operators. As homeowners should have a right to privacy and the right to not have drones watch them through windows, this proposal goes beyond those concerns and could stifle the expanding drone industry with unnecessary litigations and lawsuits.