R v. Shah – Lessons learned from Canada’s first drone case

Few judicial decisions exist in Canada relating to the operation of drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). In R v. Shah, the Provincial Court of Alberta released its decision on the first reported case on drones in Canada. Although the key charging section in this case has since been revised, and this case was decided before the most current regulations came into force, the decision in Shah offers valuable insight into the unique risk factors associated with drone operations. The discussion in Shah has significant implications relating to airspace safety as drones continue to integrate into Canada’s airspace.

To see our full case comment, click here.

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Canada’s new drone regulations: Greater regulatory certainty achieved with permissive approach to incorporating drones into airspace

The final version of Canada’s new regulations for visual-line-of-sight operations for drones weighing between 250g and 25kg, were introduced by Transport Canada in January 2019. These regulations constitute significant revisions to the proposed version of the regulations that were prepared and released in July 2017 (a summary of the proposed version can be found here). The new Part IX to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) mostly come into force on June 1, 2019.

It was high time to update Canada’s drone regulations. Transport Canada acknowledged this need in the Regulatory Impact Statement accompanying the regulations, noting that “…the existing Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) do not provide a regulatory framework that promotes the economic potential of RPAS nor does it contain modern, risk- and performance-based regulations that can uphold aviation safety.”

Key features of the new regulations

Transport Canada’s stated objectives for the new regulations are to i) create regulatory predictability for business, and ii) reduce the risk to aviation safety caused by drones.

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It’s all about the copyright – why managing the copyright of creative works captured by drone should be top priority

The latest tool in a marketer’s toolbox – footage, stills and sound recordings captured by drone.

While so much time and effort goes into the creative process when shooting stills, sound recordings or action footage for marketing materials and other commercial uses, who owns the copyright to the stills, recordings and footage captured by the drone? While most would assume that it is the customer (the party paying for the work product), Canadian copyright law says otherwise.

In Canada, the general rule is that the drone pilot capturing the work product is the presumptive first owner of the copyright. The circumstances where this general rule governs (and where it does not) are discussed below.

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Mining Industry Puts Drones to Work – Legal Considerations for Flying Drones in Mining in Canada and Abroad

Mining companies (in Canada and abroad) are incorporating the use of drones into daily operations to perform tasks that are inefficient, impractical, or unsafe for human operators. Common tasks for drones include monitoring environmental and weather conditions, conducting geophysical surveys, identifying hazardous situations and warning against intruders on-site.

Legal Considerations

The legal considerations for Canadian production and exploration mining companies operating in Canada and abroad are numerous. Not only are companies required to adhere to the regulatory requirements to operate within a given jurisdiction (provided that the foreign jurisdiction allows for the use of drones), careful consideration should be paid to export and import controls when taking drones across international borders.

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Is the drone services operator I hired an independent contractor or employee of my business? Key reasons why the distinction matters

I. Introduction

When it comes to hiring a drone operator, there is no shortage of work-for-hire subcontractors in Canada.  Given the level of skill, technology and regulatory compliance required to operate drones, hiring a commercial drone operator is often the most cost-effective method of incorporating drones into your business.

However, when hiring a drone operator, businesses should be careful to ensure that they are characterized as “independent contractors” – not as “employees”. The main reason that a business should not unwittingly allow a drone services operator to be considered an employee is because employers owe certain legal duties to their employees, and employees have specific legal rights that independent contractors do not.

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Hiring a drone services provider? Key liability risks for your business

Businesses that contract for drone services are not necessarily shielded from liability if the drone operator breaks the law. In many ways, the purchaser of drone services is a passive participant in the flight and the drone operator’s actions. The prudent business owner contracting for drone services should consider the various sources of potential liability. Below, we provides some strategies for businesses to manage these risks.

Non-compliance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations

First and foremost, a drone services provider must comply with drone regulations. In general, the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) prescribe offences for conducting drone operations that violates principles of aviation safety.

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Recent development in drone delivery commercialization in Canada

On December 15, 2017, Toronto-based technology company Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) announced that Transport Canada has accepted the company’s declaration of compliance for the X1000 Sparrow (Sparrow). The Sparrow is a cargo delivery drone, and the first of its kind to be accepted under Transport Canada’s program for compliant unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The news represents a step forward in the provision of commercial drone delivery services in Canada.

As reported in an earlier blog post, DDC has plans in motion to launch the first commercial drone delivery service in Canada. Currently in its test phase, the pilot program will deliver food, mail and medical supplies via drones to the remote Moose Cree First Nation Community situated in Northern Ontario.

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