News photographers call on California Gov. Jerry Brown to veto drone restrictions

An organization representing news photographers urged California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday to veto legislation that would restrict the use of drones over private property without the owner's consent.

The legislation would make flying a drone less than 350 feet above private property without consent a trespass violation. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of the bill, has said the measure would prevent camera-equipped drones from peeping into windows or other invasions of privacy. 

In a letter to the governor, the National Press Photographers Assn. said the restrictions would be “impossible to comply with, impossible to enforce.”

If signed into law, news photographers using drones could be sued if the drone strayed onto someone’s property while “gathering newsworthy information at a different nearby location.”

The organization also said it’s difficult for a property owner, standing on the ground, to determine a drone’s exact altitude or location, and that may lead to erroneous legal claims.

The bill, SB 142, was approved by both the Assembly and Senate and awaits consideration by the governor.

The Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, CNN, Sacramento Bee and the Assn. of Alternative Newsmedia were among the news organizations that signed the letter.

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