from the adverse-possession-is-a-thing dept.
When Michael Jones started a side hustle shooting drone photos and videos for realtors, his clients wanted more: Images with property lines on them, to better understand where their fences should be.
It seemed like a good use of emerging technology that met an obvious consumer demand, and Jones was careful to add a disclaimer: His maps weren't meant to replace the proper surveys that are often needed for such things as mortgages, title insurance and land use applications.
But after two years of steady business, Jones was slapped by the state of North Carolina in 2018 with an order that grounded his drone. The Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors said he faced criminal prosecution for surveying without a license.
[...] "I myself don't feel like I'm offering any surveying, and more or less, I'm telling people this is not accurate mapping, this is only for visual, and all of my clients understood that."
[...] The challenge goes both ways: Surveyors would need Federal Aviation Administration approval to professionally fly drones, and drone operators would need to pass state licensing exams to produce legal surveys. Neither side wants to take on the training and expenses.
[...] Jones, 44, of Goldsboro, said he couldn't afford a lawyer, so he abandoned drone mapping, resulting in over $10,000 in lost business. This January, a libertarian law firm offered to represent him.
Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, plans to argue that Jones has the right to freedom of speech by taking photos and videos and producing artwork for clients. He's seen similar disputes in Mississippi, Oregon and California.