Haynes and Boone, LLP Associate Michael Lambert authored an article in Texas Press Messenger titled “Texas Journalists Can Now Reap Benefits of Using Drones – What You Need to Know Before Taking Flight.” Below is an excerpt.
Analysis: A cheaper, safer and more innovative way of reporting from the Texas skies has become available after a federal court struck down a state law that threatened civil and criminal penalties for using drones for newsgathering.
On March 28, 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman ruled that the Texas drone law violated the First Amendment by improperly restricting the right to gather news. The process of capturing photographs and videos using a drone, the court wrote, has “just as much protection under the First Amendment as the images themselves."
Since its enactment in 2013, the law made it unlawful to use a drone to “capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property … with the intent to conduct surveillance” and banned flights over “critical infrastructure” and “sports venues.” It permitted flights for “commercial purposes” and by certain categories of individuals that notably excluded journalists.
Texas officials filed a Notice of Appeal on April 28, 2022.
Excerpted from Texas Press Messenger. Read the full article here.