If a drone lands in your yard, who owns it?

WITH drones becoming more and more common, it's only natural that questions begin to arise around the laws that govern them.

The NewsMail spoke to Bundaberg solicitor Edwina Rowan from Charlton's Lawyers to clear up a few confusing questions.

Who owns a drone if it lands in someone's yard

According to Ms Rowan, if a drone lands in someone's yard, the owner of the drone is still the legal owner.

"However, it should be noted that a drone may not be flown over a populous area and a person must not operate a UAV within 30 metres of a person who is not directly associated with the operation of the UAV," she said.

"The legislations says that a populous area in relation to the operation of an unmanned aircraft or rocket if the area has a sufficient density of population for some aspect of the operation, or some event that might happen during the operation (in particular, a fault in, or failure of, the aircraft or rocket) to pose an unreasonable risk to the life, safety or property of somebody who is in the area but is not connected with the operation."

"A populous area would include a suburban neighbourhood."

Where can you fly a drone?

Ms Rowan says the Office of the information Commissioner highlights some of the potential issues in using drones including:

  • The obligations in the Invasion of Privacy Act 1971 concerning the audio recording of conversations.
  • The common law relating to trespass against a person.
  • Section 227A of the Criminal Code 1899 concerning observations or recordings in breach of privacy.

If a drone falls and injures someone or damages something, who is responsible?

"If a drone falls and injures someone or something ultimately the operator and/or the owner of the UAV will be responsible," Ms Rowan said.

"This may result in fines from the civil aviation authority or criminal charges for trespass or wilful damage.

"One of the other issues, is that an unlicensed operator may not have insurance which covers damage to property."

What the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has to say:

According to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's Peter Gibson, common sense should be used when it comes to safety and the wellbeing of others.

"You wouldn't stick a camera over you neighbour's fence so don't fly a drone over it and do the same," he said.

Mr Gibson said it was also important not to fly drones within 30 metres of people not involved in the flight of the drone.

Find out more here:


So what's the go?

  • If your drone lands on something and damages it, you're responsible
  • If your drone lands in someone's yard, it's still your drone but it shouldn't have been flying over a populated area (such as a suburban backyard)
  • Common sense should prevail when flying drones