In accordance with state law, Texas police officers arrested a man for taking pictures with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the University of Texas’ Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium during their first football game of the season.

Texas is one of a number of states – including Idaho and Louisiana – that have criminalized aerial photography. 

The Texas law states:


(a) A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

(b)An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(c)It is a defense to prosecution under this section that  the person destroyed the image:
(1)as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of this section; and
(2)without disclosing, displaying, or distributing the image to a third party.

Whether the law is ultimately found Constitutional is still in question. In the meantime, the Texas man who flew the drone over last Saturday’s football game was taken into custody, questioned and released. The man’s drone was confiscated and according to police he faces fines of $1000 per photograph.

The Texas law has a number of exemptions, including legal drone uses for various law enforcement activities.

PINAC will continue to follow the development of aerial photography law. Our position is that photography in public space is not surveillance and, of course, Photography Is Not A Crime.

For news tips on aerial photography and drones, contact Andrew Meyer, PINAC’s staff writer covering UAV photography, the First Amendment, and more. Follow him on twitter @theandrewmeyer.