Aerial Photography, Satellite Imagery and Remote Sensing Data
for Litigation and Other Legal Applications

historical aerial photography change comparison  San Diego, San Diego County California AHLV3398
Historical Aerial Photography Comparision
Showing Changes During Four Decades
San Diego, California
1966 and 2010
Image ID: AHLV3398
Terms of Image Use | Feedback

Aerial Archives services include comprehensive service to support litigation and other legal matters including shooting assignments to support a specific legal case or negotiation, and comprehensive aerial photography research services, high quality aerial imagery, aerial imagery interpretation and supporting documentation for lawyers, paralegals and investigators.

Many legal cases benefit from aerial photography, satellite imagery or remote sensing evidence. Attorneys have used aerial and satellite imagery that we have provide in environmental litigation, property boundary and easement litigation, accident cases, land management cases, criminal cases and numerous other applications. Aerial photography and satellite imagery is also an excellent tool for documenting changes over time.

Vertical Aerial Photography and Satellite Imagery

©, fire aerial photograph Monterey county fire, AHLV2044
Extents of Monterey County, California Fire
Image ID: AHLV2044
© Herb Lingl/
Terms of Image Use | Immediate License

Aerial Archives provides complete litigation support services from in depth research of available aerial photography, satellite imagery or other remote sensing data for a legal case to legal certification and assistance with presentation of exhibits for trials or other administrative hearings. Where appropriate for the early stages of a proceeding, Aerial Archives will help create an customized aerial, and if required, satellite surveillance program.

Aerial Archives' experience with attorneys, paralegals, investigators and litigation support firms includes large cases in which aerial photography was likely to be dispositive, and therefore a very comprehensive investigation was justified. In several instances Aerial Archives was retained to locate obscure aerial photography that was buried in private (non-marketed) collections. Even in smaller cases, however, an aerial photograph has often been dispositive. Aerial Archives has also successfully completed rapid (same day) deployment to acquire aerial evidence before critical elements of that evidence are destroyed, and has completed numerous additional aerial missions where the evidence gathered in customized missions helped support a case.

Among the types of cases in which Aerial Archives has provided aerial photography are numerous environmental proceedings (air, water, wetlands etc.), boundary and easement disputes, eminent domain cases, construction disputes, criminal cases and investigations, accident documentation, fire litigation, landslide litigation and other quite unusual cases (please contact us if you would like additional details).

Where timing is critical for documentation of facts that disappear with the passage of time, particularly accidents likely to result in litigation, Aerial Archives is available to acquire imagery very rapidly.

For more information on how aerial photography can help with your legal case, please contact Aerial Archives directly.

Legal Water Pollution Issues

©, fire aerial photograph Foster City, AHLB3986
Water Contamination, Foster City, CA
Image ID: AHLB3986
© Herb Lingl/
Terms of Image Use | Immediate License

Water pollution issues are one of many examples of instances where aerial photography, satellite imagery and remote sensing data can be useful. Aerial photography can be useful for documenting both point source and non-point source water pollution, groundwater pollution, presence of some pathogens in the water and documentation of urhan runoff, construction site stormwater, and domestic, industrial and agricultural wastewater. Many instances of water pollution including thermal pollution can be documented using airborne thermography sensors or with archived aerial thermography data.

Researching Available Aerial Photography

Aerial Archives provides research services for historical aerial photographs and satellite imagery and can usually locate useful historical imagery for clients.

For historical research of aerial photography or satellite imagery, we recommend that you use the pdf research request form. Additional information about the process of researching historical aerial imagery for your location is available at aerial photography research.

For additional information, please contact Aerial Archives.

References to Attorneys' Use of Aerial Photography

For a law firm's view on the use of aerial photography see Using Aerial Photography to Win Environmental Cases on the web site of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP.

Admissibility into Evidence

Aerial photography, satellite photography and other remote sensing data is generally admissible as evidence in most legal contexts including hearings and trials. See for example: Nutra Sweet Co. v. X-L Engineering Co., 227 F.3d 776 (7th Cir. 2000) and St. Martin v. Mobil Exploration & Producing US Inc., 224 F.3d 402 (5th Cir. 2000) Courts have also held that derivitive products from such imagery and data such as maps, for example, are admissible and that expert testimony interpreting what is shown by aerial photographs is admissible.

These decisions are not limited to US courts and administrative tribunals. The International Court of Justice and judicial decisions in other jurisdications concur with these holdings. See for example Case Concerning Kasikili/Sedudu Island (Namibia v Botswana) ICJ Rep 1045, International Court of Justice, December, 1999 (aerial photography and satellite imagery) and Case Concerning the Frontier Dispute (Burkina Faso/Republic of Mali), ICJ Rep. 554, International Court of Justice, December 22, 1986, (maps based on satellite imagery).

These holdings also apply to specialized imaging techniques such as infrared aerial photography. See for example I&M Rail Link v. Northstar Navigation, 21 F. Supp.2d 849 (N.D. IL 1998).

In addition US courts have upheld aerial surveillance in connection with future legal proceedings. See for example Dow Chemical Co. v. United States, 106 S. Ct. 1819 (1986).

Aerial Archives has available a standard declaration that has been used by numerous attorneys to ensure that imagery provided by Aerial Archives is admitted into evidence.