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California bans paparazzi camera drones from Hollywood stars’ backyards

If you’re a Hollywood A-lister enjoying some quiet time by your pool, the last thing you want is some jerk buzzing his camera-equipped quadcopter over your home in a desperate bid to get some sellable snaps for gossip sites.

While the paparazzi are well known for hustling celebrities on the streets, or shooting from afar with lenses as long as your leg, some have wasted little time in adopting the latest drone tech in an effort to stay ahead of the competition.

But for paps in Hollywood, new limits on flying camera-equipped drones over private property could now lead to a run in with the law. In fact, the new regulation, enacted this week by Golden State lawmakers, applies to everyone, including drone hobbyists keen to use their DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ to see how their favorite movie stars relax at home.

And the flyovers do happen. Just last year, for example, singer and actress Miley Cyrus shot some footage of a drone hovering over her home, posting it on Instagram with the caption, “Drone Pap wtf.”

Assemblyman Ian Calderon, who wrote the new legislation, said in a statement printed by the LA Times: “The paparazzi have used drones for years to invade the privacy and capture pictures of public persons in their most private of activities – despite existing law.”

The new limitation effectively broadens the definition of trespassing to include “airspace above the land of another,” and is aimed squarely at those attempting to take photos or video from above private property.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill this week, though the new law stops short of other proposed limits that included calling for drone flights over wildfires to be made illegal. Such behavior hit the headlines at the end of July when drone operators trying to capture footage of fires in the state were lambasted for taking up airspace and hampering the efforts of firefighters.

Governor Brown stepped back from imposing such regulations as he believed they would complicate the legal process beyond what was necessary at the current time.

With drone sales set to go off the scale this holiday season, the Federal Aviation Administration is keen to find an effective way of dealing with misuse of the flying machines.

Following a string of incidents that include everything from copters crashing onto the White House lawn to flights into prisons to a spate of near-misses with manned aircraft, an increasing number of companies are looking to develop technology to help deal with irresponsible operators.

A British company recently unveiled a fascinating bit of gear capable of tracking and locking onto a drone, enabling an operator to take it out of harms way. You can check out the tech, dubbed the “anti-drone death ray,” here.