Geospatial Law

Geospatial Law – People are constantly moving through space and time with the assistance, and sometimes the unwanted monitoring of geospatial technology. At the Law Office of Christopher W. Dunn I practice Geospatial Law.

This is the law relating to the technology of UAV’s (drones), geographic information systems (GIS), private and commercial imaging satellites and aircraft, GPS navigation software and devices, location-enabled mobile cellular phones, and all other types of geospatial technology.

The world is rapidly changing and right now geospatial data about you and everything else in your public and private life is being collected, dissected, aggregated, processed and used by people, organizations, companies and nations.

The area of law relating to geospatial issues concern your privacy, contracts, commerce, intellectual property rights, liability and governmental administrative procedures and appeals.

You might need a “geospatial lawyer” if you have some of these questions:

  1. Publicly Held Data
    1. How can I fight a local government’s denial of my request for public records?
    2. Can my local government withhold its digital GIS data set from the public?
    3. Can my local government restrict licenses for on-line access to its GIS to only brokers, realtors and appraisers?
    4. Can my local government make me sign a contract before they give me a copy of their digital GIS data?
    5. How do request a digital GIS data set from my local government?
    6. Do I have to reside in Wilbur County Missouri to request Wilbur County’s digital GIS data?
    7. I’ve requested Orville County’s electronic GIS data and they said it is already available by using the map viewer on their website.  That’s not legally the same thing is it?
    8. I’m suing my local government for public records.  Do I have to sue them in their county or can I sue them in a court near me?
  2. Contracts
    1. Do you know who can help me draft a GIS data or imagery purchase or sales contract?
    2. If I get a copy of the government’s GIS data can I resell it?
    3. Can my local government claim an intellectual property right in the products I produce using their GIS data?
    4. Can my local government recall their GIS data any time they want too?
  3. Liability & Torts
    1. I was injured by a drone.  Can you get me dem big money damage$?  (Short Answer: No, I don’t practice personal injury law.)
    2. Can I be found personally liable if someone gets hurt using a geospatial data set I created – even if we told them not to use it the way they were using it?
    3. Can my city survey crew go on private property?  What happens if the property owner says the crew is trespassing?
    4. I work for a government agency that creates GIS data.  Am I immune from personal liability if the government gets sued because someone got injured?
      1. Is the government’s lawyer my lawyer too in these cases?
    5. Who is at fault if my hobby drone bursts into flames, plummets from the sky, and hurts someone or burns down my neighbor’s house?
    6. Is my map disclaimer worth the ink it took to print it?
  4. Intellectual Property Rights
    1. Can my local government copyright its GIS data set?
    2. Someone is using a map I made for commercial use without my permission.  Can I sue them or make them stop using my map?
    3. What is a creative commons license?
  5. Criminal Law
    1. The government wants to charge my client with a crime.  Additionally, they are added a charge of committing that crime within 1000 feet of a school.
      1. Are they properly calculating that distance?
      2. Who would we depose to figure out how they calculated that distance?
    2. Can the local government really charge me with a crime for using their GIS data to make sales and send out marketing mailers?
    3. Can I deliver some cigarettes to my friend while he is exercising in the yard at a Missouri Department of Corrections facility? (NO!!!!)
  6. UAV’s, Drones, & Terminators
    1. Do I have to license my 440 BHP quadcopter drone with the Feds?
    2. Can a local government regulate my UAV usage?
    3. Can my neighbor shoot at my UAV?
    4. Can I attach a taser to my drone and chase those darn kids off my lawn? What if I just chase deer?
    5. Can I attach my AR-15 to my drone and exercise my first amendment rights remotely?
    6. Can I shoot fireworks from my drone?
    7. Can I fly my drone up to the back deck window of my neighbor’s house just to upset him?  (Free Answer:  NO)
    8. Can I film political candidates who don’t want to be filmed with my drone?
    9. Can I bring my UAV to a city counsel meeting and record that meeting?
    10. Can I fly my drone over the football stadium?
    11. My T-1000 Terminator would like to locate Sarah Connor by augmenting its internal navigation system with Google Map data. Its got a legacy 4G system and WiFi. However, Google Map’s terms of  service say in Section 2(h) that I cannot, “do anything inappropriate, illegal, or in violation of others’ rights (including their privacy, publicity, and intellectual property rights).”  Is it a big deal if I tell my Terminator I’m cool with it using Google Maps because Google doesn’t survive the rise of the machines?
    12. Can I toss back a few “cold ones” while I fly my drone over my own land?  You know, cause ‘Merica?
  7. Privacy
    1. Can my local government sell my records to private parties containing my personal data?
    2. Can my local government surveil my property with a UAV without first getting a warrant?
    3. Can my local government inspect my construction with a UAV?
    4. Can a local government read my home’s smart meter with a UAV?
    5. Can my local government use my health records in combination with a GIS to advance the general public health?
  8. Geospatial Evidence
    1. Can we use a drone to film the route the police took while they were chasing my client?
    2. How can I use public GIS data in a class action law suit?
    3. How can we calculate the ambient light present the night of a crime which happened 20+ years ago?
    4. I paid for a survey.  That is all we need to take to court right?
    5. How can we tell if that area was or was not in a moon shadow?
    6. How can I best demonstrate in court an encroachment on my land?
    7. Can you help me to prepare to testify as an expert witness on a geospatial issue?
    8. What is a business record when we are dealing with GIS data?
  9. Public Policy
    1. What are some ways to set up a cost recovery scheme for our GIS data in a fair and transparent manner?
    2. Can the Lariat County GIS department charge people requesting digital GIS data set $35,000, and if they don’t agree to the data license contract.  Or can they alternatively just print out all the imagery on to paper, charge them a $1.00 a page and then say, “go away now”? (Free Short Answer:  Yes, thanks to the bad law in RSMo § 67-1850)
    3. My local government wants to charge me for a copy of their digital GIS data but the governing body has never passed a resolution or ordinance setting those fees.  Can they really charge me?
    4. My local government wants to augment the cost of running their GIS department by charging around $35,000 for a copy of their digital data set. The GIS department’s annual budget is $70,000.
      1. If they sell 3 copies at $35,000 each that year can I get some of my money refunded?
      2. They gave a digital copy of their data set away for free to a local civil engineering firm.  Is that disparate treatment under the law?
    5. Are geospatial attorneys as cool as they appear to be in the movies and on YouTube?  (Free Short Answer: Even cooler.)