Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

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Pig Renter
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Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

Postby Pig Renter » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:00 pm

I've been researching Texas drone laws since Christmas when I received a Phantom 3 from my wife. In regards to taking photos and video, I am a little confused by two sections of the law. Below is the relevant sections in question:

CHAPTER 423. USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT


Sec. 423.002. NONAPPLICABILITY. (a) It is lawful to capture an image using an unmanned aircraft in this state:
...
(15) from a height no more than eight feet above ground level in a public place, if the image was captured without using any electronic, mechanical, or other means to amplify the image beyond normal human perception;

(16) of public real property or a person on that property;

So, assuming there is no city ordinance about flying in a city park, can I legally do so, and can I take video while flying?

To me, (16) says it is legal to fly and take pictures and video in a public park. Period. But what does (15) mean? Is (15) saying you can only take pictures/video from a height of 8 feet or lower? Does this apply to public/city parks? If not what is (16) saying and what is its purpose?

Thanks


Soccerdad1995
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Re: Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

Postby Soccerdad1995 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:07 pm

Pig Renter wrote:I've been researching Texas drone laws since Christmas when I received a Phantom 3 from my wife. In regards to taking photos and video, I am a little confused by two sections of the law. Below is the relevant sections in question:

CHAPTER 423. USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT


Sec. 423.002. NONAPPLICABILITY. (a) It is lawful to capture an image using an unmanned aircraft in this state:
...
(15) from a height no more than eight feet above ground level in a public place, if the image was captured without using any electronic, mechanical, or other means to amplify the image beyond normal human perception;

(16) of public real property or a person on that property;

So, assuming there is no city ordinance about flying in a city park, can I legally do so, and can I take video while flying?

To me, (16) says it is legal to fly and take pictures and video in a public park. Period. But what does (15) mean? Is (15) saying you can only take pictures/video from a height of 8 feet or lower? Does this apply to public/city parks? If not what is (16) saying and what is its purpose?

Thanks


IANAL, but I read this as saying that you're OK as long as your drone is no more than 8 feet off the ground, and you are taking the picture of a publicly owned location. I don't know how the restrictions in 15 would play out "without using any electronic, mechanical, or other means to amplify the image beyond normal human perception". I'm guessing that means no zoom cameras?
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Pig Renter
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Re: Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

Postby Pig Renter » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:26 pm

Soccerdad1995 wrote:IANAL, but I read this as saying that you're OK as long as your drone is no more than 8 feet off the ground, and you are taking the picture of a publicly owned location. I don't know how the restrictions in 15 would play out "without using any electronic, mechanical, or other means to amplify the image beyond normal human perception". I'm guessing that means no zoom cameras?


So as you understand it, this laws is saying it is illegal for me to go to the lake near my city and launch from the shores of a city park, fly up 50 or 60 feet, and take pictures of the sunset on the water, or the creeks flowing into the lake, etc..?

This is also how I tend to understand the law yet it just seems to illogical to me to be true.


Soccerdad1995
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Re: Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

Postby Soccerdad1995 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:54 pm

Pig Renter wrote:
Soccerdad1995 wrote:IANAL, but I read this as saying that you're OK as long as your drone is no more than 8 feet off the ground, and you are taking the picture of a publicly owned location. I don't know how the restrictions in 15 would play out "without using any electronic, mechanical, or other means to amplify the image beyond normal human perception". I'm guessing that means no zoom cameras?


So as you understand it, this laws is saying it is illegal for me to go to the lake near my city and launch from the shores of a city park, fly up 50 or 60 feet, and take pictures of the sunset on the water, or the creeks flowing into the lake, etc..?

This is also how I tend to understand the law yet it just seems to illogical to me to be true.


The quoted law is strange in that laws tend to say what is illegal, not what is legal. I'm guessing that this law may be some type of "safe harbor" saying that no matter what, you are legal if your drone is less than 8 feet high and taking photos / video of a publicly owned location. I would look for other laws / regulations / ordinances that say what is illegal before concluding on the limits of what you can do.
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Mxrdad
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Re: Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

Postby Mxrdad » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:12 pm

As a Phantom 3 owner myself, I really dont know the laws well enough to say 1 way or another but I would suggest checking out Phantom Pilots website/forum. Those guys would know the answer or they would be able to point you in the right direction. I only use mine at the lake, on my land, so I'm not too worried about it. I can suggest to only fly at your comfort level, don't get too brave with it. Take baby steps or bye-bye birdie.
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steveincowtown
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Re: Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

Postby steveincowtown » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:35 pm

Mxrdad wrote: I can suggest to only fly at your comfort level, don't get too brave with it. Take baby steps or bye-bye birdie.


Second that. I had my "Christmas Drone" just long enough to fly it in the backyard and then immediately lose it while I was flying it near the river. It got higher and more lost quicker than the sum total of Woodstock attendees.

To the OP, I wouldn't sweat it to much. Don't take pictures where you would agrevated people (at any altitude).
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G.A. Heath
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Re: Texas Drone Law Contradictions?

Postby G.A. Heath » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:38 pm

The public place allowance in Texas Government Code 432.002(a)(15) is for privately owned locations that are generally open to the public such as parking lots. You can fly over, and photograph public property assuming you are in compliance with FAA regulations as per Texas GC 432.002(a)(16). Each subsection gives you permission to do something that is otherwise illegal. You do not have to meet the requirements for each subsection in order to be protected.

The sad truth is the Texas drone law is poorly written and needs to be addressed. Unlike most Texas laws which simply say "It is legal unless we say it isn't here in this section." Texas GC 432 is basically saying "It is illegal to fly a drone with the ability to record information if it is recording information unless it is somehow covered by the following exceptions." Texas GC432 is more like something you would find in New Jersey gun laws. My first amendment right to take pictures from 300 feet in the air should not be dependent on me being able to hire a helicopter or airplane to take me up there. Additionally the term surveillance is not defined and is open to being interpreted. Another potential problem with this law that there is currently legislation to fix is that it allows the surveillance of people and property w/o permission if that person or property is within 25 miles of the Mexican boarder. Many argue this is a violation of the equal protection clause under the United States constitution. Much of how this law is thought to apply is only theoretical as it has not been used to prosecute anyone that I am aware of.
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