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Drones: The Next Big Thing!

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 09, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

There have been several technological paradigm shifts over the past few decades. First, there was the personal computer. Next came the Internet and worldwide technological/communications access across the globe. And now, we have drones.

So what is a drone? It's commonly defined as an unmanned aerial aircraft. But drones really are much more.

Of course, drones started with military applications. They have been used for espionage, delivery of materials, and for military attacks.

After that, the use of drones initially bypassed commercial applications and were used for personal endeavors. It has been very common, for example, for people to use drones to film events and places from up above.

More recently, companies are recognizing that drones can be used for many commercial purposes. For example, imagine the uses of drones that can benefit real estate businesses.

The use of drones has become very prevalent given the wide array of applications and their relatively low price. It is much cheaper and easier to operate a drone than to pay for planes and helicopters and to comply with aviation licensing requirements.

Drones have become so commonplace that there is a new insurance market developing to provide coverage for drone risks. And as The Associated Press recently reported, law firms are now setting up drone practice groups.

Significant questions emerge when it comes to drones and expectations of privacy. For instance, people historically have had a reasonable expectation of privacy when conducting their lives inside their homes. But now with the advent of drones and the ability to look into practically every window, can people really expect privacy at home if they do not close the curtains?

We likely will see avalanche of legal issues and lawsuits coming to the fore as the use of drones continues to increase exponentially.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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