While some on the ground may feel that their â€œairspaceâ€ has been invaded if a drone flies in or near their property, American law does not yet recognize the concept of aerial trespass. In fact, as the consumer drone age has taken flight, legal scholars have wondered about this exact situation. If a drone flies over private property, is it trespassing?
The short answer is that American courts have not addressed the question adequately. The best case law on the issue dates back to 1946, long before inexpensive consumer drones were technically feasible. That year, the Supreme Court ruled in a case known as United States v. Causby that a farmer in North Carolina could assert property rights up to at least 83 feet in the air, and perhaps further. But he could not assert property rights indefinitely.
As the Supreme Court ruled at the time: â€œWe need not determine at this time what those precise limits are.â€
– via Ars Technica
It seems like we need to get this ironed out. Personally, I would not be crazy about a drone hovering outside my bedroom window.