The use of camera drones has been made illegal in Sweden unless they are granted a special surveillance permit.
Under new rules set down by the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden, camera drones qualify as surveillance cameras and require a license.
Permits can be expensive and paying to apply for one does not guarantee it will eventually be granted. There are no exceptions made for journalists, and critics have said the ruling could mean job losses.
In what some are describing as a “huge blow” to the aerial photography and camera drone industry, the court ruled that drone-mounted cameras are “regarded as surveillance cameras”.
Industry group UAS Sweden (Unmanned Aerial System) has argued that the court ruling could put 5,000 jobs in danger.
“It is a bad decision for Sweden as an entrepreneur country and ominous for the Swedish labour market that is constantly affected by new obscure and complicated regulations from the state and its agencies,” said Gustav Gerdes, president of UAS.
A lower district court in Sweden had previously ruled that camera drones did not constitute camera surveillance but that decision has now been overruled.
According to photography website PetaPixel, more than 20,000 drones were sold in Sweden in 2014 with more than 1,000 permits issued for using camera drones for commercial purposes.
In the UK, people wishing to operate a drone must follow some basic safety rules such as keeping it within line of sight, no more than 400ft above and 500m ahead, according to the Civil Aviation Authority’s drone code.
They will need to obtain permission from the CAA if they are flying a device over a congested area or within 50m of a building.
Drone operators must also “respect the privacy of people” around them and anyone with concerns about drones being used in their area are advised to contact the police.