6 Myths About UAV Laws

l12UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are one of the most highly talked about devices at the moment. They are known by many names, most commonly drones. While most people know about UAVs, there is still a major learning curve that still needs to be overcome by the public. There are certain rules and regulations for operating UAV, however, many people are not aware about these rules and are therefore misinformed. Thus, several common myths have emerged regarding UAVs and their usage.

Myth #1: The control of airspace below 400 feet is not in the hands of the FAA

Fact: All the airspace is controlled by the FAA. The FAA controls any space above the ground and this is to keep US airspace safe. This myth may have been originated due to the rule that all manned aircraft must never come down below 500 feet.

Myth #2: It is okay to operate UAS flights commercially on a private property if you are following model aircraft guidelines

Fact: In 2007, there was published a notice in PDF format that can be used as clarification on this matter. The rule says that no one can fly any unmanned aerial vehicle for commercial purposes. You need to apply for a license for it and that too is available for certain cases only. For this, your aircraft must be certified, the pilot must be licensed and you must obtain the required operation approval (Section 333 Exemption). This is important so that liability can be determined in case of an accident.

There is only one such vehicle that has been able to meet all the criteria and that too was limited to a place that is almost devoid of human inhabitation, the Arctic.

Myth #3: The commercial operations in the US are still not fully covered by law under FAA

Fact: This has no basis as all the airborne vehicles need to get some degree of clearance from the FAA. Civil users are required to obtain a certificate of experimental airworthiness for the purpose of using the airspace to conduct any kind of R&D, training and demonstration of flight. Same is the case with UAVs, which need certification before they can be used for commercial purposes.

If you operate a flying a UAV for recreational purposes it does not need any license or approval. But still there are some guidelines that a hobbyist must follow while indulging in this hobby.

However, in 2012, even those regulations were removed, making way for more freedom as far as model aircraft are concerned. It will be the rules of the community that will be required to be followed so that the hobbyist does not cause any damage to a property or a person.

Myth #4: It is not a punishable offense to operate commercial UAS operations after September 30th, 2015

Fact: September 30, 2015 was only a time limit by which the FAA was supposed to come up with a solution to make such plans that would make UAV safe for flying, but the FAA has not been able to come up with any plan of the sort. So, for the foreseeable future operating a commercial UAS without the required licensing remains a punishable offense.

Myth #5: Other countries are way ahead in giving approvals for UAVs

Fact: There is no scope of comparison between US airspace and that of other countries. The reason for this is that the US airspace has tremendous traffic and if UAVs are given permission too then there will be a lot of crowding in that very small airspace that is proving to be small even for commercial planes. UAVs cannot go unregulated, because all the pros and cons need to be evaluated along with the safety of people and their property on the ground.

Myth #6: There will be as many as 30,000 UAVs by 2030

Fact: This figure is an old one and looks like it was published without much research in some kind of haste because the currents estimation of FAA sits at an average figure of 7,500 by the year 2018. This figure has been published assuming that all the required rules and regulations are being followed. This number is not fixed though and can be updated after changes are made to the rules and regulations. However, for the time being there is no such possibility as this technology is still in its initial stages.

How To Access Court Records Paper And Electronic Files

l9Whether you are a law student or just interested in obtaining a court record to check some information, knowing how to access records is important. Access to these records are generally available to the public and are often considered as public records. That said, not all records may contain the information that one needs to see as the court may seal certain parts of the court proceedings especially if the case involves a juvenile.

Electronic Access – What is PACER?

As paper files becomes cumbersome, many government agencies are now switching to electronic database. The Public Access to Court Electronic Records or PACER is the US’ centralized electronic database that has court cases and docket information from different courts in the state such as the appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. Terminals are setup in the court clerk’s office and are available to the public. The information obtained inside the court office is free however; one would need to pay certain fee for printouts. If the records are from the Federal Records Center and one is interested to view the documents, a fee is also requested. Records from the Supreme Court are not available from PACER but are instead available directly from the Supreme Court’s website.

Paper Case Retrieval

Some cases might not be available online and have to be retrieved directly from the court clerk’s office manually. Most cases, especially before 1999, are available in paper format only and can be access from the court where the case was filed. To order or check the records, it is important to verify which courthouse the case is filed. Local courts have different sections, calling beforehand to verify would save you time as well as makes the request processing faster. Some court would require people requesting to write a written request to make the process speedy. It is best that one should specify the cases that they need and if there is a docket number available, to include this in the request form.

Are Sealed or Erased Records Accessible

Generally, sealed records are not available to the public especially those that have juveniles as parties to the case. That said certain exceptions apply. Some cases may be sealed and access is restricted however, some cases may partly be sealed and the ones not included are available to the public. Do note though that sealed cases maybe unsealed once the sealing order expires.

Revenge Photos

l4Because of technology being what it is, new crimes emerge from time to time, and one of the new crimes that hasn’t been completely absorbed into the various criminal justice systems around the world is that of the revenge photo.

This is the misuse of nude or provocative pictures taken and exchanged between two people in a loving relationship. After the relationships splits up, one partner uses these photos to humiliate the other one.

For example, a lady that was known as Sandra found out one day that her ex-boyfriend had viciously posted nude photos of her on Facebook! The photos went viral and were shared across many social media platforms. Once the cat’s out of the bag in social media, you can’t control how many places the photo can show up, and this can go on indefinitely.

In some areas, there are laws against posting this kind of photo even if nude or pornographic photos are allowed on a particular platform, because the “model” did not consent to having the pictures displayed publicly. In one case, the laws were so lax that the woman who was victimized actually had her chest copyrighted so she could use copyright laws to force the removal of nude pictures of herself.

Some social platforms, such as Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram, have policies against this kind of revenge, but even when they do, their customer service may not be as attentive as they could be. Therefore, people can send email after email requesting the photos be removed without hearing any response.

In some areas of the world, there are laws on the books that could be used to protect the victims even if there are no laws specifically targeting revenge photos. For example, in parts of the US, there are civil laws against coercion, stalking, and harassment, so it may be possible to use the civil courts to remove the photos even though there has been no crime under current law. Many other places are passing new legislation specifically targeting these revenge photos because a person’s whole life can be disrupted, knowing that he or she can be recognized anywhere and even barred from getting certain jobs because of the photos.

Exchanging photos between two members of a committed, loving relationship can go horribly wrong when the relationship goes sour and one party has neither the respect, dignity, or ethics to let it go gracefully. Even though it reflects poorly on the character of the perpetrator, the victim is normally the one who suffers the most. Laws with mandatory financial punishments may help perpetrators think twice about posting revenge photos. Sometimes the perp might actually make money by distributing the photos, but money is not usually the motivation.