Did You Get Droned?



38 thoughts on “Did You Get Droned?

  1. munkifisht

    Pretty sure there’s no requirement to indicate that any cameras are being used unless it’s in a toilet. ~Ripped off another site (http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/articles-interest/162431-photography-law.html), I think this is more international but the general concepts apply to Ireland. Here’s the skinny


    The law is very similar in many western democracies because the concepts of freedom tend to be similar. The right to take photos and have them published is covered in Constitutions and Charters of Rights as the right to self-expression through photography and the right to enjoyment of property: namely your photo equipment.

    I don’t pretend to be a lawyer, but my work in photography has required that I be familiar with the various laws. I have also not covered all of the exceptions to some generalizations since many of them are based on common sense and there may be new laws coming in to some countries or locales. Be aware also that new photo situations are always occurring that make the law subject to interpretation by a judge.

    Taking Photos in A Public Place

    A public place is defined in laws as a place to which the general public has access. It does NOT mean public property. A shopping centre, library, museum, park, is still a public place although it may be private property.

    You can take photos of almost anything in a public place. Buildings may be copyrighted but that applies to their design and photography does not violate the copyright of a building. It is not against copyright to take a photo of any architectural work or piece of art or sculpture in a permanent public place. Copyright by legal definition applies to a creation in a permanent and substantial form, so light displays would not meet that requirement and therefore not be copyrightable.

    Street Photography of People

    It is the right of a photographer to take photos of any person in a public place. If the photo is used for “commercial” purposes, then a release is needed. “Commercial purposes” is defined as advertising, NOT any purpose for money.

    This means, for example, that a photo of a person taken in the street could be displayed in a gallery and sold as a piece of art without a release. Editorial use which is also allowed without a release is interpreted somewhat broadly. It is NOT for example limited to on the editorial page of a newspaper. An article on street photography in a photo magazine could be done without releases for the photos.

    Other laws and restrictions related to street photography:


    In law, assault is more broadly interpreted than just touching someone or hitting them. Intimidating someone by sticking a camera in their face or blocking their movement on the sidewalk by taking a photo of them, could be legally interpreted as assault.


    Setting up a tripod and/or other photo equipment on a sidewalk might be considered loitering depending on location and the policeman involved.

    Right to Privacy

    Everyone is guaranteed a reasonable expectation to privacy. This means that photographing a victim of an accident or violence while he/she is being attended to by a medic would probably be considered a violation of his/her right to privacy despite being in a public place. On the other hand, photographing people doing normal street activities is legal.

    In Canada, however, a recent judgment states that a release is needed if the person is the main subject of the photograph which is later published. The photo can still be taken, but a release is necessary for publication. In Europe, this is true in some countries but not in others.


    Needless to say, taking photos in a bathroom, change room, up skirts, etc. is illegal and subject to criminal charges. This may extend to taking photos of someone within their own home from the street or another location but not necessarily to a back yard, depending on its location to public view.

    Prowling by Night

    On private property, this “peeping tom” law makes it illegal to loiter, and that is in addition to trespassing.


    Generally speaking, if you are in a public place like a shopping centre, arena etc. and you are then told to leave and do not do so, you are then trespassing. If security guards on private property tell you that photography is forbidden and you continue to shoot, then you are trespassing, too. Your photos, however, are your property as well as equipment, and not subject to seizure without a warrant – in most locations.

    “No photography” signs may mean that you are trespassing as soon as you take a picture. Without such signage means that, until you are told otherwise, you can take any pictures you want.

    On private property, you are immediately trespassing in a number of situations. I will attempt to cover some of the most applicable. Where there are No Trespassing signs, fences, gardens, farms, cultivated land, small trees, closed gates, lawn etc. if you choose to ignore these blockades and photograph, you are trespassing.

    An open gate, a roadway that is not signed as private, a welcome sign or mat, a door with a bell, may all imply permission to enter.


    In Europe particularly, there has been the issue that celebrities should be free from the bother of being photographed during normal activities in the community. The general law in some areas is that they can only be photographed if they are performing or in some public function.

    Secrets Act

    Taking pictures of a top secret location, document etc. is forbidden but NOT items such as bridges, government buildings, railways, harbours, air fields etc.

    Photography Permits

    More common in U.S. parks than in Canada, the purpose is to control large scale productions with perhaps a truck, lights, generator, photographic crew, technicians, etc. that can almost take over a park and prevent regular patrons from enjoying it.

    As long as you are not too noticeable, you will likely avoid being confronted by a park authority person about your picture taking.

    Ownership of copyright: employee or employer?

    The misconception is that if you take a photo during work hours then your employer owns the copyright to the photo.

    The legal issue is the nature of your job. If part of your job description involves taking photos then the employer owns the copyright to any photos you take. On the other hand, if you are a traveling sales representative and you take a spectacular news photo while out on the road, then you own the copyright to that photo, whether you were being paid by your employer at the time or not.

    Smart employers or those who are more familiar with the law, tend to pay employees extra for anything that they do, beyond their normal job description particularly when photos, or video are involved. That gives them the legal rights to the product or media production.

    Photography Contracts

    A frequent complaint on photo websites is that of an amateur who gave a photo to a friend or associate and found it later in a magazine or newspaper without any credit or remuneration as the original photographer.

    Without any evidence to the contrary, many judges would say that, if you give away one of your photographs, you are also giving away the rights to that photo. The person you give it to can either give it to someone else, or sell it for publication, etc.

    Without a contract stating otherwise, the person who commissions a portrait can legally claim to own the rights to the photo since, like above, he becomes an employer hiring an employee to take photos.

    A photography contract must not only indicate how much is being paid, but what the payment is for, and what rights the photographer retains to his/her photos.

  2. Kill The Poor

    I think the guy , Daragh, is researching a blog post he is writing and is looking to see if people who went to the Electric Picnic knew about the drone cameras operation there, where they warned on their tickets or by signage down on site.

    Seems fairly clear from the tweet.

  3. The Old Boy

    I haven’t seen a ticket, but I would imagine they contain the usual caveats about filming and such. I can’t see why they would have to inform you if some of the cameras weren’t tethered to the ground.

  4. Ciaran

    didn’t read the ticket.
    didn’t see any signs.

    didn’t see any drones there either though.

    I see the Irish Times has some crowd shots from a drone up from EP on their site.

    didn’t think you needed to give consent/be warned about being filmed in a public place tbh.

    what exactly is Darragh’s issue, or will we need to wait for him to blog about it?

    1. munkifisht

      Hummm… Do they need one? Not sure what constitutes airspace but surely there’s a limit or Kids would be in trouble for having a balloon.

      1. Ronan

        Yes they needed one, yes they had one. The operator was one of the 24 IAA approved operators in Ireland (and also happen to be one of the 2 IAA-approved trainers). They would, I believe, have liased with the IAA and Air Traffic control to ensure that their flights were all above board. Permission would have been required for these flights. They weren’t noticed by many because they never flew over the crowd – to do so would be highly illegal and would definitely not have been covered by any IAA permission granted.

        1. munkifisht

          Interesting. Thanks Ronan. You seem to know what you’re talking about. Out of interest, is there a ceiling below which you can operate these without a licence?

          1. John Boy

            It is an Illegal flight. At one point they’re within 150 of people on the ground. You can only do that when you have the people on the ground within your control.

          2. Ronan

            They can’t fly above 400 feet without special permission. Below that they need to be 150m away from people or buildings not under your control, unless permission is granted by the IAA for special operating conditions, which would require a safety plan to be in place, amongst other things. I would expect that on this occasion they had stewards to cordon off the take-off/landing area, had identified alternative landing sites, had a plan for loss of radio control (i.e. the drone would return to where it took off from autonomously) and flew only with appropriate GPS lock so the device tracked where it was. Also note that flights must be line of sight – flying via “First Person View” is not permitted without special permission. And to be clear, contrary to what John Boy thinks below, it was not an illegal flight simply by virtue of it being within 150m of people on the ground, it just was one that required prior mission-specific IAA approval.

        2. Selfie Sensation

          Why would flying over the crowd be “highly illegal”? because of privacy or flight safety?

          1. Ronan

            Nothing to do with privacy, at least not just cos it’s a drone. It’s illegal because it contravenes the IAA rules, and they legislate for the use of airspace on behalf of the Oireachtais. And those rules are in place primarily for safey reasons (both airspace users and people/property on the ground – in the case of flying over thousands of people in a small space, it’s specificially to protect their safety that it is illegal).

  5. Dhaughton99

    Remember the days you weren’t allowed to bring a camera to a gig? Or tape recorders.

    Actually, remember the days you could buy demo tapes and copies of gigs on cassette on O’Connell street.

  6. Rompsky

    From the terms and conditions on the EP website:

    f) You give your express consent to your actual/ simulated likeness to be included for no fee within any audio or visual recording to be used in any media for any purpose at any time. This includes filming by An Garda Síochána or security staff which may be carried out for the security of customers and/or the prevention of crime.

    Took all of 14 seconds to find

    1. D

      Was just about to say that. Have seen something like that in the small print of every ticket I’ve ever bought.

  7. Maxi

    Irish Times drone was supplied by Sky Tec Ireland per credits on irishtimes.com – http://www.skytecireland.com

    From their website:

    SkyTec Ireland are licensed by the Irish Aviation Authority and hold the Aerial Work Permission to conduct commercial operations. This is a requirement for any operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle in Irish Airspace who wants to operate commercially or for anyone who wants to put a camera into the sky for whatever reason.

    Signs as you were entering Electric Picnic talked about permissions given etc – RTE were covering it too

    Think your man is going to have find some other angle for his “outraged” and “how dare they” clickbait blog post

    1. munkifisht

      Well that was nice of them to put up signs, but in truth you don’t have to have any sineage. You’re on private property there and it’s up to the owner to decide if your photo can be taken or not.

    2. Daragh O Brien

      Wasn’t planning an outraged or clickbait blog post.
      I do Data Protection training and consulting. Was interested in the use of the drones and the privacy implications of drone cams and was researching a balanced and informative piece, hence the question.

  8. TheMorgue

    Terms and conditions state….

    “You give your express consent to your actual/ simulated likeness to be included for no fee within any audio or visual recording to be used in any media for any purpose at any time. This includes filming by An Garda Síochána or security staff which may be carried out for the security of customers and/or the prevention of crime.”

  9. Tragic Kingdom

    Surely, “did your ticket or any signage let you know about #dronejournalism operating?” But enough about the @irishtimes wall-to-wall wallpaper coverage. Utter pap. But then, it’s an Irish Times readership gig, innit Una?

  10. Andrew

    What about the 41,000 smartphones at the festival? Surely they pose more of a threat to privacy than one drone?

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