Filming with drones: a legal guide

Sarah Lazarides from law firm Harbottle & Lewis on what you need to know before using a drone on a film shoot.

The evolution of drone technology has been ground-breaking for the film and television industry. For the first time, it is possible to get high quality and dramatic aerial footage without the expense of helicopters or cranes. But following a number of criminal prosecutions for misuse of drones, what are the potential legal pitfalls that producers should be aware of? Here is a brief guide.

Note that rules on drone use vary depending on the size of the drone and whether or not it is equipped with a camera. This article focuses on a filmmaker operating a camera-fitted drone weighing less than 20kg.


If you’re operating a drone for commercial purposes, then you must have permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). In order to get that permission the CAA may require you to undergo tests and training to demonstrate that you are a competent operator.

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