This is likely to set a precedent affecting drone pilots in the United States.

An appeals court rules a drone violated the privacy rights of a northern Michigan couple when it took photos of their property.

“It’s going to cause a ripple,” attorney William Burdette says. “We stood up for the little guy.”

Todd and Heather Maxon faced a suit from Long Lake Township over zoning violations. The Maxons argue the township’s use of a drone without a court order violates their protections against illegal searches. The township said the couple didn’t have an expectation of privacy. But the court disagreed.

“Persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their property against drone surveillance. And therefore a governmental entity seeking to conduct drone surveillance must obtain a warrant,” said judges Kathleen Jansen and Amy Ronayne Krause.

Drone violated privacy rights

The township used the photos to show there was a significant increase in the amount of…