AuthorTimothy M. Ravich
e manuscript of this book was sent to the publisher on August 29, 2016—the same day
that the first U.S. rules for flig ht of commercial drones went into effect. is fact tells you
everythi ng that you need to know about the challenge of producing a work covering a new
area of the law. To say that there were many edits and rewrites—a nd that there will be—is
an understatement, as the releva nt technolog ies associated with unmanned aeria l vehicles
(“drones”) continue to shift and outpace lawmakers. “Drinking from a firehose” a com-
mercial drone client of mine once said about keeping pace with anticipated regulations.
In any case, this book is t he first to present drone law in a comprehensive way. Conced-
edly, it is but a starting point for a discussion of yet-enacted laws as fresh fact s and rules no
doubt will replace and modify today’s think ing. But, unmistak ably, this book fills a huge
void and serves a current need for information about the sources, practices, precedent, and
trajectory of a billion-dollar industry across numerous private, commercial, public, and
military uses.
In fact, the ownership and use of public and civil unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is a
rap idly devel oping par t of av iati on. i s ra ises sign ifica nt le gal i ssue s of i ntere st to a viat ors,
governments, private citizens, and legal counsel at the nationa l, local, and state levels, most
significantly in terms of operations, safety, security, and privacy.
In this context, this book aims to be a supermarket of drone law as that body of law
is currently framed. It identifies and explains the subject matter for the academic, prac-
titioner, and student. For example, this book is designed for the operator who wants to
know if he can start a drone business and operate his drone for profit as well as for the
associate lawyer ta sked with the job of determining whether evidence obtained by a drone
is admissible in a court of law in a particular jurisdiction. It further imagines a seasoned
aviation lawyer or academic researcher interested in staying abreast of the latest rules and
policies respecting drone operations and larger i ssues under the Constitution and interna-
tional law. Finally, this book imagines the nonlawyer who is interested in learning about
the law in this specialized area. In all, this book aims to reach both the novice and expert
(to the extent any expertise can yet be claimed in this field).
Like other treatises or practice guides, this book draws extensively from, and directs
the reader to, primary source materia l, including federal law, national aviation regulations,
state statutes, city ordinances, international laws, and industry standards and practices.
Relevant and supplemental secondary materials a re detailed in the book’s more than 2,200
footnotes while recommended readings at t he end of each of 11 chapters provide additional
guidance and starting points for the reader.

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