Someone flew a drone over the Hollywood police station recently. Police and prosecutors determined they can not do anything about it and their hands are tied.
The footage below shows the drone take off in front of the Hollywood police department precinct and fly over their parking lot. The parking lot is shielded by a wall around the area to protect it from public view. That didn’t stop the drone though as you can see in the video while it flies around the area with police officers holding shotguns and observing the activity. It is not an invasion of privacy because it’s seen from the air, and air is not private property (unless it’s restricted airspace). If that were the case then Google maps would of had to take down satellite photos of Barbara Streisand’s house and she would of won the $50 million lawsuit against Kenneth Adelman.
Police in Hollywood worked with prosecutors to determine what charges, if any, they could file against the drone pilot. It was determined that no laws were broken and that flying a drone in Hollywood is LEGAL at this time. Police did say that if the drone flew over 400 ft high then an FAA law would be broken, but FAA actually just posts flying guidelines and they are not enforceable laws at this time. Furthermore, it would be difficult for prosecutors to prove in court that your drone was flying over 400 ft. anyway.
There’s still a lot that has to be done if prosecutors and FAA want to restrict (and enforce) drone flying in the US. There is a grey area regarding FAA’s definition of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). According to FAA all UAV accidents and other uncontrolled incidents must be reported to them. If that were the case then any time a balloon flew away or anytime you threw a paper airplane then you’d have to report it to the FAA. Here’s more info on FAA’s UAV recommendations.
The bottom line is that flying drones in Hollywood is legal at this time and law enforcement can’t do anything about it. So go out there and fly to your heart’s content without worrying that the cops will take you down. I think I might just go out and fly my drone a little today for fun. Make sure to check your local ordinances in case any new laws pop up, and be safe out there too. If you lose control of your drone and it flies away or falls on someone you may be liable. So it might be a good idea to get insurance to cover any incidents or make sure you don’t have anything that could identify you in case your drone drops from the sky and lands on a ferrari or a celebrity’s head.