Drone Pilot Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina Board of Surveyors

In a recent lawsuit filed in North Carolina, a drone pilot named Michael Jones is taking on the North Carolina Board of Surveyors after receiving a warning letter threatening legal action for selling aerial photos and videos without a surveyor’s license. This case raises important questions about the future of commercial drone operations and the freedom of speech. Jones argues that capturing videos and photos for informational purposes, even when done by drone, is protected under the First Amendment. The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for the regulation of commercial drone operations and the ability of drone pilots to provide aerial shots for various industries such as real estate, agriculture, and public safety.

Drone Pilot Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina Board of Surveyors

Background Information

In late 2018, commercial drone pilot Michael Jones received a threatening letter from North Carolina’s Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors. The letter warned him that his commercial drone work was illegal because it constituted surveying without a license. The Board demanded that he cease his activities immediately. Despite Jones’ precautions to clarify that his aerial shots did not establish property lines and were not used for legal surveying needs, an investigator from the Board claimed that he could face criminal and civil prosecution if he continued selling aerial shots of properties. This incident led to the closure of Jones’ drone services business.

Reason for Lawsuit

After receiving the threatening letter from the Board, Jones made the decision to shut down his business, fearing legal trouble and potential fines. However, he eventually partnered with the Institute for Justice and filed a lawsuit against the Board. The lawsuit claims that capturing videos and photos for informational purposes, including those taken by drones, is protected as a form of speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. By attempting to prevent Jones from documenting places with permission, the Board is infringing on his right to collect and disseminate information.

Potential Implications

The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for commercial drone operations in North Carolina and potentially throughout the U.S. If Jones is successful in his lawsuit, it would send a clear message to other governmental bodies that similar tactics to prevent competition will not be tolerated. On the other hand, if the Board wins, it could result in the implementation of new requirements for drone service providers. This could limit the ability of drone operators to provide aerial photography and videography services, affecting industries such as property marketing, construction, and filmmaking.

Similar Cases in Other Industries

The issue of certification requirements and restrictions on new technologies is not unique to the drone industry. In the field of industrial inspections, certification bodies like the American Petroleum Institute (API) have not placed strict requirements on drone pilots for collecting aerial data during inspections. Instead, they have focused on providing guidelines and working towards the adoption of drones in the industry. Jones’ lawsuit could potentially send a message to competing organizations facing similar challenges.

Drone Pilot Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina Board of Surveyors

Outcome Speculation

The potential result of Jones’ lawsuit remains uncertain. If he is successful, it could have far-reaching implications for the drone industry and public safety. It would reaffirm the protection of speech and information in the context of drone operations. However, if the Board prevails, it could lead to the introduction of new requirements and limitations on drone operators in North Carolina.

Drone Pilot Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina Board of Surveyors

News by Industry

To stay updated on news and developments in the drone industry, here are some key areas to focus on:

Property Marketing

Commercial drone operations play a crucial role in capturing aerial footage for property marketing. Any changes in certification requirements or limitations on drone operators could impact this industry.


Drones are widely used in the construction industry for tasks such as site surveys, progress monitoring, and inspections. The outcome of Jones’ lawsuit may influence the use of drones in construction-related activities.


Aerial photography and videography have become essential tools for filmmakers. If limitations are imposed on drone operators, it may affect the ability to capture stunning aerial shots for cinematic purposes.


Drones are increasingly used in agriculture for crop monitoring, precision spraying, and livestock management. Any changes in regulations could affect the efficiency and effectiveness of these operations.

Emergency Services

Drones have proven to be valuable assets for emergency services, aiding in search and rescue operations, disaster response, and assessing hazardous situations. Changes in regulations may impact the ability of emergency services to leverage drone technology in critical situations.


Aerial inspections using drones have become a cost-effective and efficient method in industries such as oil and gas, infrastructure, and utilities. The outcome of the lawsuit could have implications for the use of drones in inspections.

Land Surveying & GIS

The lawsuit directly challenges the notion that aerial photography and mapping constitute surveying. The implications of the lawsuit may affect the practices of land surveying and geographical information systems (GIS).


The drone delivery industry has seen significant growth in recent years, with companies experimenting with autonomous delivery drones. Any changes in regulations could impact the development and implementation of drone delivery services.


Drones are used for environmental monitoring, wildlife tracking, and mapping in conservation efforts. The lawsuit’s outcome may have implications for the use of drones in conservation projects.

FPV Racing

First-person view (FPV) racing is a popular sport among drone enthusiasts. While not directly related to the lawsuit, changes in regulations or limitations on drone operations could indirectly impact the FPV racing community.

Drone Pilot Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina Board of Surveyors

Join a Global Community

For drone enthusiasts seeking to stay informed and connected, joining a global community is a great way to engage with like-minded individuals. These communities offer resources, regulatory updates, breaking news, and tips and tricks for drone pilots.

Drone Enthusiasts

Connect with fellow drone enthusiasts to share experiences, ask questions, and stay updated on the latest developments in the drone industry.

Regulatory Updates

Stay informed about changes in drone regulations, licensing requirements, and safety guidelines to ensure compliance and safe operations.

Breaking News

Receive timely updates on breaking news related to drones, including technological advancements, industry trends, and legal developments.

Tips & Tricks

Access a wealth of knowledge and expertise from experienced drone pilots who share tips, tricks, and techniques for improving flying skills and capturing stunning aerial shots.

Drone Pilot Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina Board of Surveyors

Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

When participating in drone communities and accessing resources, it is important to review and adhere to the terms of use and privacy policy of the respective platforms. Ensure that personal information is protected and used securely in accordance with these policies.

Drone Pilot Files Lawsuit Against North Carolina Board of Surveyors

Drone News

Drones for Sale Review is an online magazine dedicated to keeping our readers up to date with the latest drone news & industry information.

Recent Posts