Can You Fly Drones Over My House? Reply to The Times Reader Letter – Geeksvana!

Can You Fly Drones Over My House? Reply to The Times Reader Letter – Geeksvana!

Hey everyone! Recently, a letter to The Times caught my eye and I thought it was a bit of a hot topic at the moment. Can you fly drones over my house? Is a question many more members of the public are starting to ask. In this video, we take a look at the reply received from The Times chosen expert, a leading UK lawyer from the highly successful firm Russell Cooke. I give my opinion on the advice given as well as pose the question to you, our audience. Let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments below!

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Link to Russell Cooke:


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  1. Jon Löffler on December 21, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    If I want to look at a neigbours garden layout or what the new owners have done with my old house I use google earth

  2. MarcusTDM on December 21, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    I think this video is looks at the subject very sensibly, to many of the people who make drone rules don’t understand them.

  3. Gene Fox Green Mountain Droning on December 21, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Than what about goggle earth they take pic of your house property and what ever is in your yard at the time of the photos !! Is that a Evanston of your privacy

  4. DB_1344 on December 21, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Although Kat has every right to ask the question – Asking if it is ok to shoot it down is a ridiculous question and should be treated as such? Ed’s response as the (Resident Expert) Is as equally ridiculous – Criminal damage possibly – Discharging a Firearm in a public which in itself could secure you a Jail sentence Ed. Maybe Ed should do his homework before even attempting to answer and claim that he is an expert in any field – And then to suggest that flying a drone is a threat – Solicitors that claim knowledge and expertise is a threat to the hobby. Fly over property within the Drone Law, specific to the type of drone that you own and any qualifications that you possess – Nay sayers back off – put your guns away and get your Drone facts up to speed .

  5. Fearless Leader on December 21, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    It’s funny how people see drone pilots. I am a photographer who basically shoots landscape and occasional real estate. Aerial photography is a natural progression into the field. Only one party objected to my drone and asked me not fly over his property. To be fair, I was hovering to one side of his property at about 125 feet shooting away from his house at boats sailing thru a canal. This particular drone was noisy, and I can understand his concern. Anyway he said I could not fly over his property, According to FAA rules I can, (I am a licensed pilot) but I don’t want to disturb the peace so I will fly higher and use a less noisy drone. Other than that I am within my rights in this situation. Basically we are flying photographers, shooting at the ground with a birds eye view, not peeping toms looking to leer into people’s backyards.

  6. Terry Curd on December 21, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Hi sean good vid,sean how do google earth and google maps get away with this without getting any flack back from house is off the main road and a couple of years ago I had a look on google earth just to have a look at our area,i zoomed in and to my surprise I was looking at both my vehicles at the end of my driveway and everything else there as well,how do they get away with this,and hardly anything much said about it? Thanks Terry

  7. Simon Baxter on December 21, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Isn’t drone cameras subject tot he same privacy laws as CCTV and security cameras? Doesn’t the CAA drone/model operators license cover distances to property and people? I thought it did. However <250g drones don’t fall into these CAA rules unless it has a camera on it, in which case it does. If you do fly over other peoples property, there is also the insurance risk and liabilities to consider, especially if you damage property or injure someone in the event of the drone coming down!

  8. Love my Drones on December 21, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve been flying for a while and yes, if at 100 feet you can see if people are in their yard but to be able to identify them, hardly unless you just hover there. That would irritate me as well but then there are so many drono-phobes out there that think someone is spying on them. No, we are just flying, any of these Drono phobes have probably never even watched a drone video, they are just being paranoid. I have low flying aircraft, some below 500 feet that pass over where I live all the time. I have no way of identifying them and they are far more likely to cause property damage etc if something should go wrong.

  9. Drone photography on December 21, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    So where does the 150m rule apply then?

  10. Quadygaz on December 21, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    Interesting one this! Have you got a video on who advises the CAA / UK drone law makers. Do they consult actual drone pilots / hobbyists / BMFA etc? Be interesting to see who’s advising who and who has the influence UK wise.

  11. Bill Anderson on December 21, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    GA (general aviation) (not commercial) mostly fly in G airspace , no permission is needed to fly in that area = G airspace .
    If I fly G airspace (not controlled) but I need permission to fly into or transit class D air space (controlled)
    Back onto G airspace (no permission needed) no less than 500 ft (unless landing)
    drones can only fly in class G airspace not above 400 ft (separation 100 ft CAA rules )
    onto trespass of a boundary of property below chimney level in G airspace ,, could be classed as trespass when verbally being told & not to leave ?
    (tell the drone to leave ???)

    This is quite a long discussion to & fro on this matter but there is case law :-

    Pickering V Russ (1815)
    Brernstein of Leigh V Skyviews & General (1978 )

    "Remember you must fly safely"

  12. GIS Students on December 21, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    I live in the United States and have been Part 107 certified for 4 years (I do photogrammetry 3D aerial mapping for scientific research as part of my job). The Federal Aviation Administration has exclusive sovereignty of "navigable airspace" which extends from the ground up to an altitude of approximately 60,000 feet MSL (the upper limit of Class A airspace). Drones are registered aircraft and have a right of transit through the national airspace system. Private individuals do not own the airspace above their land–nor can they forbid a plane, helicopter, or "drone" to cross above their property (Anymore than they can forbid cars not to drive in front of their house on a public road). Like any technology–I openly acknowledge it can be used for "good" or "bad." However, cell phones and telephoto lens cameras actually pose greater risk for "spying" activity (But we don’t ban them–because the perceived "good" of a camera built into your phone and the ability to take outstanding wildlife photos from at distance outweighs the perceived "bad"). If you aren’t doing anything illegal, what is there to hide in your backyard anyway? Google Earth takes detailed satellite images of your house and yard which anybody can freely access, but I don’t see anyone freaking out about that? Yet, if they see a drone 1 mile away–some folks automatically jump the conclusion it is spying on them (even though most drones have wide angle, non-zooming lenses which makes people on the ground look like ants). Drones have many commercial uses and benefits–including roof inspections, real-estate photography, aerial mapping, aerial delivery, etc.

    On the other hand, I have heard stories of people who are bored flying their drone into their neighbor’s yards (just to see what’s going on–or perhaps to annoy people intentionally). This type of behavior is irresponsible and could definitely qualify as invasion of privacy. Also, privately owned drones have landed on football fields during a live game and halted the play (which is illegal). I don’t believe this makes drones inherently "bad"–it is just a camera after all. Don’t blame the object–it is the responsibility of the pilot to fly appropriately and considerately. However, it is a federal crime to shoot a drone out of the sky in the United States (although people have done so and nobody has been prosecuted to my knowledge). Still, I would be very dismayed if I was taking a peaceful drone picture of the sunset and a random hillbilly shot my $1500 drone out of the sky! You would never shoot the camera out of the hand of a photographer! Drones are not hurting anybody. If there’s a security issue, I would report it to the police. Drone activity could be slightly annoying, but is harmless 99% of the time in my opinion.

  13. Vista Ireland on December 21, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    I wonder if people complain at double decker bus passengers when they looks down into People’s front gardens? What about walkers, looking over your garden fence and into your front window? Walkers and vehicle drivers can see a lot more and closer than any drone passing by.

  14. Rubinho Drone on December 21, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Boa Noite amigo
    Passando para prestigiar aquele super like 🤜🤛✌👍

  15. Andy Chapman on December 21, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Great videos as always, very informative. I run a tree surgery firm, own a Mavic 2 zoom for carry out surveys of dangerous trees, spotting decaying wounds and reporting back to clients with videos and photos. I obviously have their permission to undertake this. But where do I stand with using my Mavic Zoom, over 250 grams, with all the changing rules? I need the sensors on the drone, so I can get close as possible to inspect.

  16. Chris Hearn - 3D Old Dude on December 21, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Great video – as per your video I never fly over and hover over property – I have my subject I’m filming / photographing and that’s what I’m interested in – if I ever do catch footage that I have inadvertently caught that may infringe privacy it’s edited out and deleted – I recently did a job where I was asked to film a business property 500 metres away but refused as I didn’t have the land owners permission – I feel when operated properly drones are marvellous things – there will always be “The plonker” who flaunts the rules

  17. daniel inman on December 21, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    The main point is that drone flyers who show consideration for other people when they fly will have few problems. It becomes a problem when the right to enjoy drone flying interferes with the rights of a landowner to enjoy their property. If a drone flyer makes the effort to talk to a farmer about flying over an interesting piece of landscape, the farmer might tell you to go away or they might tell you the best place to fly. If on the other hand, you turn up and hover over farm buildings in an area where there have been thefts of farm equipment preceded by drone flights, you might face a different response. Flying in a way that interferes with what’s going on on the ground will also be a different response. Bringing down a drone might be the only way that a landowner has to secure evidence such as the pilot ID for the police. From a practical point, to be "shot down", the drone needs to be closer than the uninvolved person distance.

  18. G Wal on December 21, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks Sean, If I bought or read the Times I might have alerted you to this letter but I don’t so I thank you for highlighting it. There were three questions in Kat of Suffolk’s letter. Each one probably could lead to a video reply of their own or reams of legal close typed documents from eminent lawyers. What I would like to know is what prompted Kat of Suffork to writer the letter to the Times ? Is she experiencing drones every day hovering right over her property, perhaps she is near a popular flying spot or drone school where pilots are learning for their A2CofC ? Or maybe she has just one enthusiastic neighbour who is flying their drone from their garden and she hates them ? (with me it’s bonfires and dogs barking) Perhaps she has a stalker or her Husband has engaged a private eye to keep tabs on her ? It is unclear what her circumstances actually are. Clearly angry, only angry people write letters to the Times, she fears surveillance of her property for some reason. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear I always say? Finally, does she own a licenced gun ? This part of the letter concerns me the most, she did not ask if it was ok or not to shoot the pilot.

  19. Wally Gargett on December 21, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    Excellent information

  20. Lindsay Heyes on December 21, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    "A drone above your property could be trespassing in your airspace"???? If I had paid for that advice from an "expert" lawyer, I’d be asking for my money back and closing my account with his firm before I next blinked. Open airspace is a national asset – every bit as much as a trunk road.

    However, the original request does raise a valid issue:
    Some people live in places where many drone pilots are likely to fly, for example because of limited places to establish a TOLP and VLOS flight path to a photogenic object or landscape feature. If it’s popular with tourists – and the National Trust, Forestry Commission or English Heritage have done their usual trick of preventing launch or control from their premises – a garden might get overflown four or five times a day by different flyers because no other flight path is possible. Each flyer might believe that their quick flight is a passing irritation, when it is actually part of a very serious cumulative nuisance.

    This is why the NT, FC and EH should be challenged over policies constraining launch and control of drones.

    Hark! Is that the sound of a lawyer clearing his desk? He should be hanging his head in shame for that answer.

  21. MARK WW on December 21, 2021 at 12:26 pm


  22. Matt Bugbee Ariel Views on December 21, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    In the USA where there is no solid privacy laws I keep at least 100ft (30m) over neighboring houses and try not to hover too long, just to be respectful. I’ve never had an issue….yet.

  23. Drone Ready on December 21, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    The airspace over anyone’s home belongs to no one You need to research it You’re part 107 rules say the airspace above anyone’s property or home is free

  24. Outdoor Atheist on December 21, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    I think 100 feet above houses is a good distanced and no hovering, unless you have been hired by the owner to be there.

  25. G Wal on December 21, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve watched the video again, as far as I know these are my answers to Kat of Suffolk’s 3 questions: 1) You don’t have rights over the drone above your property, same as councils don’t own the airspace above their parks. As Sean points out you can’t order a helicopter or airplane not to fly over your property, ask the Queen in Windsor Castle with Heathrow flight paths, God knows she’s tried poor dear. If however, the noise is a nuisance or the drone is in your face and presents a safety concern for humans and animals you could report it to the Police as there is probably a law that is being violated. Although, have you ever tried to stop your neighbour playing loud music, practicing their drum solo’s at 3am or asking that they stop their dogs barking ? Will the Police respond ? Unlikely. The drone will probably have returned to home, which could be a mile away after 30 mins battery, well before they get there. If it is a Mini 2 then the flyer has more rights than Kat of Suffork, besides it is almost silent at 400 ft. 2) If she feels it is spying on her repeatedly, not just flying over on its way to somewhere else, she could ask the police to investigate and I guess if it’s a slow week they could try to locate the flyer and examine the footage. Again it would have to be a very slow week, like no mass murders at the village fate. As far as drones like the Mini 2 taking video and stills, it is what it does, it wouldn’t exist if it couldn’t. The GDPR covers that but not many people know what is and isn’t allowed under it. If the footage is not published on Instagram or YouTube and people look like ants then there is not much Kat of Suffork can do. 3) No.

  26. Apollos on December 21, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Privacy is created whether in public or private. It’s ignorant to assume otherwise. Don’t want someone to look in your windows, close the blinds. I’m personally getting tired of how politically correct everyone has to be. Change is hard for some people, seeing drones fly around the sky just makes me curious but someone else might feel uneasy because they are uneducated about it, so I think public education is the only way to tackle an issue like this.

  27. Krusty on December 21, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    Can you provide Kat’s house address please??

  28. Bartek Koch on December 21, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    I hover my drone at 120m up filming a time lapse of the clouds , if your not hovering over someone else’s property you can fly over if under 250g

  29. The Werewolf on December 21, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    I’ll give you the answer in Canada: yes – mostly. You cannot invade someone’s privacy which is generally defined as "places where a reasonable person would expect to not be observed without permission’ ie: no hovering your drone with the camera aimed at a person in their yard (which is actually harassment, not a privacy violation) or into their house (absolutely a privacy violation). BUT the airspace from the ground up is owned by Transport Canada, not by the landowner, and drones are allowed to fly anywhere permitted.

    There is a distinction by mass. A sub-250g drone can fly *almost* anywhere except Class F Restricted areas (penitentiaries for example), areas where forest fire management is in progress, specific areas the Minister of Transport decrees are restricted (check your NOTAMs) and then 900.06 aka the "Don’t be stupid" rule which prohibits flights that endanger other aircraft or people. Drones between 250g and 25Kg inclusive are MUCH more restricted and require licensing and certification as well as restrictions on where they can fly.. but oddly, probably could also fly over your yard as long as none of the other regs are violated.

    You also have to check the local laws. Cities here cannot ban flying a drone (same reason, out of their jurisdiction) BUT they can and do ban take off, landing or operating drones in certain areas, typically parks. Legally, that doesn’t stop you from flying OVER parks (at least, not unless you have to land urgently) but I generally try to avoid flying over parks mostly because I don’t want to be a *ahem* jerk and I find that some dogs always want to try and catch the drone, even when it’s 50m up, so I don’t want to disturb the other users of the space.

    Oh and NO.. they are NOT permitted to shoot your drone down. Regardless of what the drone is doing, it’s private property and shooting it is both a violation of public safety and destruction of private property. Unless the drone is directly a physical threat, you don’t have a case.

    I carry a pamphlet I made up that explains the drone and privacy laws in my province and when people get upset about my flying the drone, which to be honest, has rarely happened, if it’s over private land, I apologise and move on. If it’s over public land (like a beach), I hand them a pamphlet.

  30. D Hansel on December 21, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Here in the US the FAA owns the air space one inch over the highest part of your dwelling.
    Here in the US shooting down a registered drone will get you 5 years in federal prison and $230,000 fine.
    No appeal….

  31. Flying Lowe on December 21, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    I fly a DJI mini 2 with public reliability.
    I sometimes get people who live in built up estates asking for photo of their property and i tell them its got too be either directly on your property when flying low, if not ill normally go too around 150+ feet so, like you said you can not identify people who could possibly be relaxing in there garden and wanting there privacy.
    now I think if people are feeling that their privacy is being breached by such a drone like mine, but they haven’t got an issue with say a private helicopter that could have a better camera, maybe someone with a dslr with a large lens which could invade peoples privacy a lot more, I would personally find that a bigger cause for concern.
    never mind the fact of the greater noise disturbance and the actually danger too life if it was too start an uncontrolled decent and possibly crashing, in comparison too something that weights less than 250 grams.
    also people have a misconception that they own the air space above their property.

  32. Phantom and the Drone on December 21, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    The one over all fact in this matter is ownership of airspace, and those that own property know, in your deeds there isnt a section retaining to airspace above your property. The view boils down to privacy, and the expectations of privacy within your own property.
    If for instance you live in the city, where properties are close together, or in blocks of apartments, the expectation of privacy could be much lower than if you lived in the country surrounded by fields.
    That said, this subject is nothing new, how often do you sit in your garden and think about the thousands of satellites looking down at you? How often do you search google earth/street? Do you question when a police helicopter is flying at 2000ft, circling overhead using their camera? Do we question the private pilots flying over head? And we all watch YouTube and know that most air users have cameras.
    The best way forward is consideration to all, maintain the required separation and respect privacy. If you have to fly over a property, say for work purposes; roof inspection for instance, then speak to all the niebours, and let them know. Generally that will be done as part of the flight risk Assessments and permissions anyway. If you find that your flying over gardens in other circumstances, then be considerate, maintain a good separation and height, dont linger or hover, and dont intentionally capture footage of those using their property.
    Look at it this way….how many of you have cctv cameras at home? How many of you have told your niebours that you have installed them? Now, how many of you have read the regulations and law about home CCTV cameras? You must inform your niebours, you must put up warning signs and your niebours are legally allowed to view your install and object about the angles of the cameras and footage captured by them. Consideration and common sense is the key here.
    Great update Shaun, thank you.👍

  33. Dave Mc on December 21, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Stay legal. Photography is not a crime.
    Sounds like a Karen having a moan & Ken (the brief) talking bubbles.

  34. Alex green on December 21, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    Sadly some people see a drone in the sky at assume they are being looked at and spied on, most of the time if a drone is moving the likelihood of the operator specifically looking at someone or their property is low and people need to understand that life doesn’t revolve around them and most people don’t care what you are doing

  35. Mike Miller on December 21, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    If you have a good experience with something, you will tell, on the average, 2 people. If you have a bad experience with something you will tell 10 people. Unfortunately this means that one bad apple spoils the whole barrow, no matter how many good things happen with drones. Education of pilots is the only thing that can we can do. Educating the public does no good because most people won’t be swayed in their opinion that drones are bad. Unfortunately, lawyers like the one in this clip, are going to be the ones making the new laws that will put heavy restrictions on pilots, because they heard a bad story and not the dozens of good stories.

  36. Edward Adams on December 21, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    What are your views on Article 16

  37. Kevin Masters on December 21, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    General answer is NO!

  38. Jonathan H on December 21, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    I usually fly a minimum of 60 metres over residential properties, as at that height the Mini 2 can hardly be heard, unless it is very quiet surroundings. I do often film steam trains and might be hovering awaiting one to come, but in that case the camera will be pointing at railway line ready and usually I do such out in the countryside. I would not hover over a garden

  39. andrew maudsley on December 21, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    We do not need any more rules it will get to the point where like you said will open a tin of worms, people will likely just forget the rules full stop also stop paying any drone tax and just do what they feel they are safe to do, like always people can be stupid, if amazon deliver ever works you have a big drone flying over stopping and dropping off stuff, yet currently at most it be a mini 2 flying over, custom ones tend to not, but the rules effect everyone, like always and I agree with you main points being safty and privacy, you could be out in public with your phone and there is times even in public where you should not take pictures, for example a woman bres feeding at the park, I feel all this needs to be sorted soon before more silly rules are made, tbh should go back to basic, saying do not fly above 400feet, do not fly over airports and other restricted places use this app, all other things should be read your manual if you have one, and you do what you can to fly safe and if you go out your way to hurt someone your going to jail

  40. TONY SIMEK on December 21, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Let’s be real here, unless the drone is flying inside of somebody elses house….it’s not an invasion of privacy.

  41. Huginn Kenningard on December 21, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Being harassed by random people is a part of the hobby… They see a drone, no matter at what altitude, and they think you are spying them and that they have the right to harass you, so just get used to it because it will never stop ^_^

    If you have all the paperwork done, give no further explanations, just let them call the cops.

  42. Eric Watt on December 21, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Always avoid flying over residential areas in any case, if you have to let every one know if you can and stay away as far as you can not on less your on a contract .

  43. kalpat on December 21, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    I too was recently faced with this situation whilst filming a local church (with permission from the vicar) and a male threatened to shoot down the drone if I flew over his property. Apart from the obvious offences that he would face by doing so he and many other members of the public believe that the drone operator is filming as long as the drone is flying. I have ne desire to fill my SD card with other than what I intend filming and his back garden or anyone else’s are of zero interest to me, but stil people think their property and they are somehow interesting.

  44. Greg Nugent on December 21, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Pretty sure current rules by FAA in US state you must be at or above 250′ to fly over private property when you haven’t received property owner permission to do so.

  45. Nick W on December 21, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    I think people have a right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their property, and there are also the privacy laws, but you do not own the airspace above a property. So where, above you, does ‘quiet enjoyment’ end?

    If above 400′, then that is above the height limit anyway, so the answer would be no you cannot fly over. It is probably well under 400′ though, so in that case you would be able to fly over above that limit but below 400′, providing you were not deliberately Invading privacy.

    No doubt at some point it will get tested in court. I’ve always thought it is an odd principle that a law can be defined, but until a court has interpreted it, it’s full meaning is not known.

  46. Sudburydrone on December 21, 2021 at 1:03 pm


  47. kamikazekaos on December 21, 2021 at 1:03 pm

    Don’t think people even care or notice or even know what to do , so yes it’s no a problem for me to see one over my yard .

  48. The Maltese Falcon on December 21, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Polite not to, no?

  49. John Chilton on December 21, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    As far as I know after researching it there is no law that actually states exactly what height above a person’s property you can fly, other than to say you cannot spoil their enjoyment of their property by flying too low over it, 500ft is a guideline minimum for manned craft like paragliders, hot air balloons, gliders etc but it doesn’t pacifically state that below this height is an incursion that could be classified as a criminal offence, especially not for unmanned aircraft, if it did it would be a legal nightmare for certain operations i.e police/SAR helicopters and drones, air ambulance, also aircraft that cross built up areas while landing and taking off etc etc. Also I don’t think there’s ever been a successful prosecution of someone who simply flew a drone or other unmanned aircraft above someone else’s property, unless it’s restricted airspace, it’s unworkable legally speaking for the wider population, just providing evidence alone would prove to be a tricky task in a court of law as it could be easily disputed. I think people need to just accept the fact that drones are here to stay, and a right to privacy has never been a given, also bear in mind state and digital surveillance are far more invasive than some daft little drone with a crappy camera way up high ever will be, a lot of these cameras don’t even have a zoom function for god’s sake! 🤦‍♂️

  50. Alan Robb on December 21, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    Nice to lay it out but and its a big one, a lot of opinions in this piece, in my opinion, etc. It’s difficult enough to fly a drone in the UK these days. And I understand airport issues and drones flying directly outside windows looking in etc. But we have laws in place to handle that, but if you look and try and imagine all possible scenarios and legislate it would make an absolute mess.
    Too many times poorly written laws can and do get interpreted and a non issue ends up with a visit from the "feelings" police no real legal position but the path of least resistance is stop.
    As with normal filming if you cannot ordinarily be seen in your back garden from a public road or path it might be intrusive or as you said I hover over your property at a height low enough to get a clear deliberate video or photographs then it’s maybe a concern. Speculation in LAW does no good. I could be a murderer because I have a tattoo but it’s a jump..

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