Many people like driving around and looking at Christmas lights during the holiday season, and that popular pastime gave John Pauly an idea. Equipped with his drone, Pauly went outside and recorded a 3:22 second clip of the holiday lights from a unique perspective. He landed his drone and uploaded the video, setting the footage to the popular Christmas tune, “White Christmas.” Many people have praised the footage in the comments section, but one viewer wasn’t too happy with what he saw. That viewer was Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall, who attempted to have Pauly charged with a crime.
Thankfully for Pauly, and common sense, the police chief was unable to charge Pauly with a crime, since there are no laws against appropriate drone use (There is one law that says it’s a violation to disturb wildlife, hunters or fishers with a drone, but that wasn’t the case here).
Although there’s no criminal aspect to Pauly’s actions – yet – the Federal Aviation Administration has slapped numerous drone flyers like Pauly with fines, since drones are technically classified as an aircraft.
Pauly takes precautions to prevent any problems. He said he always calls the local police department to inform them when and where he’ll be flying the drone, as he did prior to making the video.
“We always let the police know,” Pauly said. “You can’t be reckless with it, that’s when you can get in trouble.”
Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said he knows regulations will be put in place for the new technology, but lawmakers should consider the interest of recreational flyers.
“This is new technology that has outpaced regulation, and we’re at the early stages of a bell curve,” said Toscano. “Look at the automobile. It took a while after its invention for us to realize we needed speed limits to keep them safe.”
Although Marshall originally wanted to press charges against Pauly, the police chief did concede that drones could be very useful in the hands of law enforcement.
“Drones can be used very productively for law enforcement if there’s a lost child or senior citizen,” Marshall said. “If we can get a camera up in the air, it can help locate missing people.”
Related source: Chicago Tribune, Photography Is Not A Crime