Drone operator appealing judge’s claim creating aerial maps is ‘surveying’

A drone operator in North Carolina is appealing a judge’s claim that any sort of aerial maps or images obtained from flying drones is the same as “surveying,” and can be regulated by the state’s licensing requirements for that industry.

In fact, the case charges, that providing such information actually is expression protected by the First Amendment.

According to the Institute for Justice, the claim that using drones to take aerial photographs of property is the same as surveying was made by Louise W. Flanagan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

She affirmed a North Carolina rule to that effect.

“For years, the state’s land-surveying board has targeted small-time drone operators, claiming their maps and models amount to illegal ‘surveying,’” the IJ reported.

“The court acknowledged that ‘the use of drones to capture images for the purpose of conveying ‘orthomosaic’ or ‘measurable’ information is protected expression.’ Even so, the court ruled that North Carolina can punish drone operators if they create and share even basic information about land without first getting a land-surveyor license,” the report said.

The point is the state is demanding a surveyor’s license, requiring years of schooling and experience, in order for drone operators to do certain functions.

The state board has threatened civil and even criminal penalties against drone operators.

“One of the targets of the board’s threats was Michael Jones, a Goldsboro drone enthusiast who has long wanted to develop an aerial-mapping business. The surveying board sent Michael a cease-and-desist letter in 2019, demanding that he shut down his fledgling mapping operations,” the IJ reported.

WND is now on Trump’s Truth Social! Follow us @WNDNews

“Licensing boards should not be able to use their authority just to protect businesses from competition,” said IJ Attorney James Knight. “The government should step out of the way and let innovative businesses like Michael’s continue serving their customers.”

The district judge’s decision now is moving to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“When the surveying board first told me that I was breaking the law, I could hardly believe it,” said Jones. “I didn’t think that I was doing anything that could be considered surveying. In fact, I don’t know of any surveying company that was using drones like I was. I’m looking forward to the court of appeals hearing my case.”

WND reported when the case developed that the images and maps Jones created for customers were not being used to set legal boundaries, which would, in fact, require a formal survey.

Jones began using a drone camera to expand his business as a photographer and videographer.

He took photos of homes for sale and buildings under construction. And he did a job for a company that wanted to use thermal imaging to see where heat was escaping from its warehouse.

But the state Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors claimed that all was “surveying.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Question: Why do the political and corporate leaders of America – long the freest, most successful, most prosperous and most Christian nation in history – bow and scrape before China, a ruthless, communist, totalitarian and explicitly atheistic dictatorship openly committed to ruling the world, including America?

The astonishing answers come into focus only when one contemplates both the unprecedented level of political and financial corruption in America’s ruling class (multiple Biden family members received $31 million in payola from China), and simultaneously the communist Chinese government’s brilliantly devious methods of unconventional total warfare, by which China is stealthily infiltrating, subverting, corrupting and colonizing the United States of America.

The China threat has rarely been more dramatically or pointedly documented than in the sensational March issue of WND’s critically acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled “HOW CHINA IS CONQUERING AMERICA.” Whistleblower is available in both the popular print edition and a state-of-the-art digital version, either single issues or discounted annual subscriptions.

For 25 years, WND has boldly brought you the news that really matters. If you appreciate our Christian journalists and their uniquely truthful reporting and analysis, please help us by becoming a WND Insider!

Content created by the WND News Center is available for re-publication without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@wndnewscenter.org.

This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

Spread the word:
Email Newsletter

Sign Up for our Newsletter

Enter your best address below to receive the latest cartoons and breaking news in your email inbox:
Please wait...
You are successfully subscribed!
There was an error with subscription attempt.

Content created by the WND News Center is available for re-publication without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@wndnewscenter.org.