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Drones and the Law: The Sky's Not the Limit

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This article should not be taken as legal advice. It merely reflects the views of its author. Please consult with an attorney to determine what, if any, legal requirements or restrictions apply to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in your area.

In response to booming popularity, many people have been seeking information about the legality of using unmanned remote-controlled aircraft. Drones—those carrying cameras as opposed to missile launchers—are legal. However, all but the tiniest will require registration. And commercial users, for the time being, still face some additional bureaucratic hurdles. In addition, there are a number of rules one needs to follow both to remain legally compliant and, more importantly, stay safe.

This article will focus on small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), as they are known to the FAA. These fall within the weight range of 0.55 lb (250g) to 55 lb (25kg). Super-small RC aircraft are considered toys in the eyes of the FAA, not worthy of their attention. Before anyone gets offended, let me point out this is just a legal classification. With the miniaturization of electronics, it is quite conceivable a less than 0.55 lb drone will be a high-end piece of equipment, usable for professional video applications. If miniature drones do start getting used frequently in commercial applications, we may expect a change to the current weight-based approach to classification.

Larger-than-55 lb drones are unlikely to be used by consumers or freelance shooters. Most of these would be operated by companies. Though some hobbyist RC planes are nearly large enough to carry a human payload. But most multi-rotor drones (what the FAA really has its sights set on) weigh less than 55 lb, even with camera, batteries, and gimbal in place. 

How to register

If you have a drone on the way and just want to register, here’s what you need to know:

• You will need to be older than 13 years of age

• A citizen or legal permanent resident of the US

• Pay a nominal registration fee

For those younger than 13, you will need to have someone older than 13 register for you. For additional details and to register online, go to the FAA UAS landing page. For commercial users, see “Commercial Use,” below.

A brief history

As you are probably aware, legislation specifically targeting sUAS was only ratified in late 2015. Before that, we just had the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (sections 331-336) and a lot of confusion as to what power the FAA had over RC aircraft regulation. The FAA’s biggest sticking point was that flying UAS for commercial use was effectively prohibited with the exception of the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle and the Aerovironment Puma, and then only for deployment in the Arctic. 

By at least 2014 it was clear that laws were in dire need of updating. Why? Two factors:

• The explosion in popularly of UAS outside the previously niche RC community

• Inexpensive flight control systems that make consumer multi-rotor helicopters possible

Arguably, the two are interrelated. In the past, RC aircraft were more commonly fixed wing, meaning they required a sizable area to take off and land. And the VTOL systems (Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing, i.e., helicopters) that did exist where very difficult to fly. Inexpensive, computerized flight controllers have made it comparatively easy to fly multi-rotor systems. Because they are VTOL-capable, and relatively compact, they can be deployed essentially anywhere, and in the hands of a skilled pilot, they can be maneuvered into all sorts of nooks and crannies.

Because today's UAS can be flown with varying degrees of autopilot assistance, from full autopilot modes based on “waypoints” (for craft with GPS) to full "agility" modes that disable virtually all safeties,  multi-rotors have attracted users with less practical flying experience. More people are using them, and more people are using them without applying common sense. Greater maneuverability means more small UAS in the air, with more being used in unexpected contexts. Because of this explosion, the government finally recognized the technology needed to be addressed formally, not to mention the growing desire on the part of businesses to put UAS to commercial use without going through a baroque-approval process.

How to fly legally

Just because drones are legal, it doesn’t mean you can use them however you please. What are the limitations?

Here are some general guidelines (source). But please remember, additional local restrictions may apply. Always consult with RC clubs or local authorities in the area you plan to fly if in any doubt.

• Keep your UAS less than 400' above ground level (AGL) and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.

• Keep your UAS within visual range. It may have a navigation system that enables it to fly on full autopilot. Nevertheless, you must be able to see your UAS at all times (an FPV video feed does not count as “visual contact”).

• Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.

• Keep out of FAA-controlled airspace. This includes a 5-mile radius around airports.

• Don't fly near people or stadiums.

• Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft—you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.

What is FAA airspace?

 

For Illustration only: FAA-designated airspace classes and their respective ranges

 

If these are FAA regulations, then what constitutes FAA airspace? If you're reading this article in the United States, or in its possessions or territories, you are within the FAA's airspace, or the NAS (National Air Space of the United States). There's a widely held belief that below a certain altitude, one is outside FAA jurisdiction—some say below 400 feet, others say below 700 feet. Either way, this is a canard. FAA jurisdiction starts at the ground and extends to the edge of space. Most likely, FAA jurisdiction is being confused with FAA-"controlled" airspace.

What is FAA-controlled airspace? Essentially, it is airspace in which manned aircraft operate. The controlled airspace around airports is divided into classes by the FAA, and how these are divided will vary depending on geographical and other factors. However, a good rule of thumb is to assume that all airspace within five miles of an airport, starting at sea level, is controlled, and that operating UAS without explicit FAA approval—approval you won’t get—is prohibited.  

Newark International Airport


Commercial Use

Commercial use is now sanctioned, with new rules set to take effect in late August. They include dropping the formal requirement for an air-worthiness certificate or Section 333 exemption and a slightly eased restriction on the use of FPV equipment. The pilot can now use FPV as long as a second person maintains direct visual contract. True BVR or autonomous flying is still not allowed, but this adjustment gives the pilot the freedom to opt for FPV rather than visual line-of-sight operation if they choose.

Below are some of the highlights of the new rules. This list is by no means comprehensive. Also, there may be exceptions for some rules if suitable waivers are obtained.

The FAA oversees and regulates airspace for thousands of aircraft simultaneously.


• The pilot must have a suitable pilot certificate and be 16 years of age or older. (Currently only FAA, not foreign-issued certificates, are accepted). A non-certified pilot can also fly if supervised by a certified pilot.

• The same 55-lb weight restriction applies as to hobby UAS.

• Visual contact by either the pilot or another visual observer must be maintained.

• The aircraft must remain close enough to the actual pilot that it is within effective visual range, even if the pilot is using FPV.

• Must only be operated in daylight.

• Must operate in a way that does not interfere with other aircraft.

• Must fly at not more than 100 mph.

• Most remain at or below 400' above ground level (AGL); or remain within 400' of a structure.

Why does commercial use matter? If a DJI Phantom 4 is used by a private individual to share existing videos on YouTube, normal registration is all one needs. But if one uses the same Phantom 4 to shoot a wedding video for client, suddenly the same Phantom 4 becomes a Civil Operations aircraft. Shouldn’t regulation be based on aircraft type rather than use?

Giving the FAA the benefit of the doubt, one could argue that a commercial user is more likely to fly in contexts that expose the public or manned aircraft to risks. Cynics might rejoin that commercial registration amounts to taxation. It’s hard to defend charging a hobbyist more than a nominal registration fee; but a commercial user presumably has income related to their drone the FAA can tap into. 

Non-UAS laws that may apply

Although the FAA is the main authority when it comes to operating vehicles above ground level, the nature of the way small drones are used opens up other legal risks, including:

• Reckless endangerment (a felony)

• Invasion of privacy (can easily be upgraded to a federal complaint)

• Obstruction of police/emergency services duties (a felony)

• Noise ordinance violation

• Littering

Of those, invasion of privacy and reckless endangerment, for obvious reasons, will likely serve as the most common basis for lawsuits and prosecution against UAS operators. However, one could envision an imaginative prosecutor coming up with less obvious grounds to build a case, such as fining an operator for littering, in a case where the UAS crashed in a public area and was abandoned by the pilot. Therefore, one shouldn't assume that just because UAS represent something of a new legal frontier that one will be immune from any form of legal action.

Privacy

Because more and more UAS have cameras built in or support the attachment of cameras, privacy and UAS use is becoming a hot topic. Apart from reckless endangerment, privacy could well become a major basis for prosecution or lawsuits against UAS operators. For now, normal privacy laws would seem to apply to image and audio capture from UAS that apply in general. That is to say, for the most part, one is allowed to record or photograph in contexts where there is no "reasonable" expectation of privacy. A major caveat, however, is that UAS's typically operate well above eye level, and there are cases where this is considered to violate reasonable expectations of privacy.


In a park, or on a city street, for example, there is no "reasonable" expectation of privacy, nor is there generally a legal basis to make an invasion of privacy claim, since one is in what is understood to be a public place. The same may even apply to parts of private property "normally" visible from public space, such as a front yard visible from the street. On the other hand, recording the interior of a home or private building is illegal, even if the camera is placed outside. Additionally, exterior spaces on private property, possibly a backyard not normally visible from the street, are quite often, like the interior of a home, considered spaces where one has a reasonable expectation of privacy under the law. What this means for UVA operators is that flying over, say, someone's backyard and recording video or photos stands a good chance of qualifying as an invasion of privacy and should be avoided. This is true even where there is no direct over-flight; in other words, where there is no question of trespassing, but the camera is still able to capture images from parts of the property where reasonable expectation of privacy holds.

Will laws change in this regard? My guess is, as legislation evolves, privacy laws will become stricter as they relate to UAS than they are in general. For now, most users seem to be innocent, shooting video for the sheer enjoyment. However, it's only a matter of time before we start seeing the technology used by private investigators and others as surveillance tools. Although currently restricted, it's also likely we will see their increased use by law enforcement, as well as private security, and again it will be interesting to learn how the privacy debate pans out.

Air Rights over Private Property

The question of air rights as it relates to UAS is relatively novel since manned aircraft operate thousands of feet above populated areas, far too high to be considered trespassing. Air rights in the sense of, say, hoisting a boom over a neighbor's property are well-defined, and such an action, it's safe to assume, would indeed constitute trespassing. Some may be tempted to assume that since UAS operate in a sort of middle ground, below the elevations at which manned aircraft normally operate, yet potentially above the reach of ground-based apparatuses such as a cherry pickers, they are somehow exempt. While this may, to some extent, be arguable for larger, commercial-grade UAS that come closer to manned aircraft in capability (if they ever get legalized), it hardly seems like a good thing to risk in the case of a quadcopter or other consumer UAS. Consumer UAS don't have the range and are too unreliable—many, if they lose signal, will automatically land wherever they are, or will fly at a fixed, low elevation back to a home point. But even if consumer craft were more capable, the requirement that they have to be kept within visual range (see below) effectively limits how high they can be flown.

In other words, one would still be extremely foolish to operate over someone else's private property without permission. In a small town in Colorado, it's now legal to shoot down UAS that are flying over private property.

Beyond Visual Range (BVR)

BVR flying is currently forbidden by the FAA, and also goes against AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) and other guidelines. In other words, you are required to maintain visual contact with your aircraft at all times. It is now permissible for the pilot to use FPV equipment, as long as there is a secondary observer who is within line-of-sight. Since the size of the aircraft and local visibility can vary, there currently isn't a set distance as to how far away a UAS can be from the pilot/observer. However, there must also be a minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from the control station—in other words, Don’t fly in a blizzard!

Since BVR systems no longer require the Pentagon's budget to purchase, I would expect to see a lot of pressure to change this law, or otherwise nullify the FAA’s assertion. My guess is BVR will get approval for commercial applications, perhaps including Amazon's proposed drone-delivery scheme. This will be contingent on FAA certification of the aircraft model being used, as well as some sort of licensing requirement on the part of the operator. I am not as optimistic that we will see the FAA's blessing for consumer use of BVR, even though many UAS makers are already promoting BVR systems.


Who Enforces FAA Laws?

Normally, the FAA uses its own agents, and has its own enforcement mechanism. At least in theory, normal police can arrest you or otherwise enforce FAA legislation. With the widespread public use of UAS, I would expect this to change. Along with new provisions for consumer UAS will come provisions granting local law enforcement justification over non-FAA controlled airspace. Either that or we can expect to see complementary state or local laws that grant local law enforcement authority over the relevant portion of the airspace on top of any FAA legislation. For FAA-controlled airspace, I would expect things to stay more or less as they are. Unless civilian BVR flying is legalized, I would expect UAS to remain largely excluded from operating in these zones.

RC Clubs

The best piece of advice I can give for anyone who’s concerned about legalities is to consult a local RC club in your area. In the US, the best place to look is the Academy of Model Aeronautics, or AMA. Not only can they point you toward RC clubs in your area, they provide a wealth of resources for RC pilots and also offer liability insurance that will cover you for up to two million dollars in damages, provided you operate within the safety guidelines they set.

It's not just for legal issues. RC clubs provide beginners with an invaluable community of support. Members have the experience to tell you where it's safe to fly, what pitfalls you may encounter, and they can even provide training, as well as troubleshooting assistance.

Summary

With the caveat that there are always exceptions, and that you should consult with clubs and fliers in your local area before flying, the basic guidelines for flying legally (and safely) can be summarized as follows:

• First and foremost, go to the FAA website and register the drone we know you’re dying to fly.

• Don’t fly above 400'.

• Don’t fly at any elevation within five miles of an airport.

• Don't fly around areas where VTOLs (helicopters) or any small commuter aircraft operate.

• Keep your aircraft within visual range and under full control.

• Don’t fly over populated areas.

• Don't record video or take photos in contexts where there is an "expectation of privacy."

• Treat the air over private property as private property.

• Follow the safely guidelines set forth by the AMA, even those that are not legally enforced.

• Commercial use has its own set of rules and requires an FAA pilot certificate.

Note: This list is not comprehensive, and in some cases the FAA may grant exceptions.

For the most part, using your drone legally means using your drone safely—which just boils down to following common sense. The laws are really there to decide what to do in cases where people willfully or negligently choose not to follow common sense. Safe flying!

To read more about the full line of drones available at B&H, click here.

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A drone flown over me and me dog out walking about in the woods.  It hovered over US, so I gave it my finger......how violated!!!! can't even take your dog for a walk ey???  Crazy

I have some news about all the FAA regulations concerning drones.

If your drone is tethered they have no rules to prevent you from flying and or doing whatever for it is considered a KITE. Attached to the operator. FAA does not regulate KITES.  SO, if you fly a drone you can litterally hook a fishing line to it and fly. I use a small fishing lead wieght positioned and attached in a V formation under attached to body. 

I have had a ranger come to me and saw my tether and walked away. My insurance company uses me for damage claims and so does Real Estate firms rent the Fotokite from me cause an idiot can fly these. Since it is tethered there is no proabition from use of your video or photography. Leash comes in 2 sizes. One 27 ft the other 100ft. Smart leash is way to go though. 

Fly reasponsibly all.

I’m pretty pleased to find this site. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your further posts. Thanks!

My kids want to fly some under 0.55lb helicopters in our yard.  Does this require us calling the 5 heliports within 5 miles of our back yard before they fly the models around the yard?

Hi jimmy,

This article is meant to provide general tips and best practices. Of course there are always exceptions. For this reason, I would not be able to speak to any local restrictions/exemptions that might apply in a particular area.

The website looks fantastic !! Great job

Anything under .55 lbs is not considered a licensable unit. Their affectioanely called toys. The do not fall under FAA regs.

VTOL's are used for emergency transportation from accident scenario or natural disaster to hospitals. How air restrictions can be handled when drones for commercial use (media news, or rescue matters by a private security company)? Including the use of drones for situational assessment after a natural (or hand made) disaster....

So how about the airspace INSIDE of a building? Does the FAA have jurisdiction over that airspace? Even for commercial applications? 

Nope, the FAA does not have jurisdiction inside a structure. Fly your drone (and paper airplanes) as much as you want, inside...as long as the owner of the space permits it.

I just bought my first drone and was wondering about the new law for having a pilots license. I just plan to use it for my private use. I know I have to register it but doI also have to get a license to fly it? 

The drone definitely needs to be registered.  To the best of my knowledge on current regulations, at this time you simply need a license if you will be using the drone for professional applications.  Enthusiasts would only need to have the drone registered: they would not need a pilot license to operate their drone.  Keep in mind that these regulations can change.

The 400 feet continues to be vague .  It should be 400 feet above "ground," not from the starting point.  If you are flying up a hill or mountain the altitude will change.   And the FAA is not clear about altitude restrictions near airport or not near airports.

Hi Phil,

As a former Naval Aviator and commercial licensed pilot, I can assure you that the FAA is very very clear about altitude restrictions in the airspace system. Attitudes are either listed as MSL or AGL. MSL is Mean Sea Level—altitude above sea level. AGL is Above Ground Level—self explanatory.

If you are operating a UAV in the airspace system, definitely refer to aeronautical charts to be certain you are staying out of controlled airspace.

Thanks for reading!

The FAA is clear about use near airports.  You aren't allowed to fly them AT ALL near an airport without authorization, typically a flight plan submission, and airport communication during flight, then you still have the same 400' limit.

However the 400' was never vague.  Nobody ever stated it was above starting point so you are alone in your confusion, perhaps also making excuses to break the law?  Obviously the 400' is to prevent other aircraft from having potential collsion so it would always be 400' above the hill or mountain where one exists, not that you would have to crash into the side ofa mountain if it's over 400' high, which would be utterly ridiculous.

davey, very nicely explained.  

Am I the first phantom 3 stocking victim?

That depends. Did the Phantom 3 put you back on the shelf?

It is indeed legal to fly within 5 miles of an airport. You must notify the operator and tower before doing so.

Hello, 

Thank you for the insights and article ! Very informative !

Would you know if registration is required when renting a drone ? ( I've seen several websites offering a daily/weekly drone rent)

Thanks. 

I just purchased a phantom 4 and am eager to fly it over inland waterways in NYC like the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek. would I be breaking any laws by doing this if they are outside no-fly zones? 

Hey Christopher,

Definitely do your research before flying in those areas. Airspace restrictions change often and we cannot give you a definitive answer based on current regulations.

Thanks, good luck, and fly safe!

I took this pic at 1032 ft I didn't have no clues until some one in Central Park asked me if it legal to fly that high since he has a parrot bebop which lead me to this web site

Use your best judgement and you really should get an aviation sectional chart of the region you intend to fly your drone in. They are available on line. . When in doubt contact your local FAA Flight standards district office and ask. Actually this is whom your questions should be directed towards. Never rely on the Arm chair experts on forums like this. CYA.

I've been flying RC helocopters for over 20 years and have recently entered the quadcopter (drone) side of the hobby. Just wanted to say thanks for the great article and overall, people really need to lighten up when it comes to these 'evil' drones we fly. If the only difference between a 'drone' and an RC airplane is if it has a camera on it or not, people need to remember that we are allowed to photograph whatever we want as long as we aren't filming you peeing at 2am. And who would want to see that anyway.

A person was operating a drone to take a video during a recent fireworks display at a municipal park.  The drone obstructed the view of the fireworks and at times flew over spectators.  It was both annoying and potentially dangerous.  It seems there should be restrictions put in place to prohibit the encroachment on others' enjoyment!

There are already restrictions about flying near people.  Jam the signal and follow it back to the owner.

Does "Jamming" the signal mean interfering with the control of the UAS?  

If so, then I could not agree with you whatsoever!  That is nearly as reckless, and even more stupid than flying over people in the first place.  What happens if the "jamming" leads to a crash among the people?

Following it back to the owner/operator, but interfering with the operation sounds just as risky.

Hoppy

Is their anything i can do legally to someone for downing my drone while flying it back to my boat on a public lake?

This would be considered destruction of property.  You could file a claim with the local police, though you will likely need to have the name of the person that damaged your equipment.

The story contains some significant inaccuracies regarding flying drones, RC Aircraft. RC Helos that, as currently written, suggest FAA rules that are not as restrictive as described. The following is what I attempted to post in a effort to help others learn what I personally learned in the past two weeks corresponding with a local FAA rep and reading FAA rules including 'paragraph 366':

Although this article is well intentioned and well written it also is incorrect in at least one area. UAS Flights (Drones/Helos/RC Aircraft) within 5 miles of an Airport are NOT prohibited. They are restricted and there are specific applicable requirements for flying in those areas. I know, I live .99 miles from the end of a city airport at about a 70degree angle off centerline. That airport has no commercial flights but it does qualify as it has an "air traffic facility ." I have reached out to them and they responded with the steps I have to take to fly within that area. Nothing grossly forboding or obnoxious IF you want to avoid problems.

Bottom line - Be responsible, know and follow their rules and nobody gets hurt of has a problem. Asking for forgiveness afterwards does not work in this sort of situation. For me it took about 30 mins time to contact the local airport authorites and within a week I got a very clear response about who, what, where and when so that I can fly my RC drone/plane/Helo and stay out of trouble.

The specific applicable FAA paragraph is as follows:

336(a). Section 336(a) requires that—

(1) The aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;

(2) The aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;

(3) The aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;

(4) The aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and

(5) When flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport

Are there any updates to the 333 exemption law ?I  dont have a  pilot's license andhave no intenions on getting one.I'd rather be ligit but???

I'm not aware of any updates at this time.

The FAA has pending regs, due to come final as soon as June, that will change the Section 333 exemption law dramatically. It's expected that they will no longer require a pilot's license.

I have the FAA app, B4UFly, and there is really nowhere to fly. You are always within five miles of an airfield or heliport.

It's stupid. When you check other no-fly zone maps or use your DJI drone, there is no warning. 

"In a small town in Colorado, it's now legal to shoot down UAS that are flying over private property."

While there may indeed be a law like this in Colorado, it would never hold up in court because federal laws superceed state laws in all cases. It is against federal law to shoot down ANY FAA registered aircraft. "A drone is an aircraft under the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Shooting down an aircraft is a federal crime. The penalties include twenty years in prison under 18 U.S.C. § 32(a). A threat to shoot down an aircraft can get you five years in prison under 18 U.S.C. § 32(c). The government can also impose fines of up to $250,000." Since new law now requires the registration of all UAV's over .55lbs and under 55lbs with the FAA that makes it against federal law to shoot down a persons quadcopter no matter what they are doing.

Drone or No Drone? The United States Government has no Right to Regulate the use of Intellectual Property. Commercial or Hobbiest, in you shot the Video, Photograph or Recording, You are the Creator. The Right to exploit your Intellectual Property is Not to be Abridged by the Federal Government by the protections guaranteed by the 1st, and 4th Amendments of the U.S. Constitutution.

That doesn't make any sense. They aren't regulating the IP--the picture, the video--they're regulating the device/means you are using to create it. This is hardly new. For example, you can't trespass onto someone's property and use the 1st or 4th Amendment to claim the government doesn't have the right to restirct your creation of IP.

There's another aspect to the restrictions on "commercial" sUAS flights. Here's how I understand it: Suppose Joe Hobbyist shoots video for fun, then at some point decides to either sell it, or monetize it on YouTube or elsewhere. Suddenly it changes from a hobby flight to a commercial flight, and is illegal. And there is currently no way to retroactively make it legal. 

If my understanding of this is incorrect, please let me know.

My impression is this is a murky area. Since what started life as a "for fun" YouTube video could get picked up by a commercial entity down the road. It brings up the distinction between using footage commercially and operating an aircraft commercially. Personally, my feeling is if it wasn’t a commercial shoot to begin with then how the footage gets used later on shouldn’t concern the FAA. I doubt the FAA agrees, though. Doubtless they fear lots of professionals will just pretend to be hobbyists who decided to sell their work after the fact. Until this gets tested in court, the only safe thing to do is assume that video shot non-commercially can never be used commercially.

As a full-time professional photographer, with a lot of background in the legalities of grpahic art and intellectual property law, I may be able to clear-up some of the murkiness.  If a person produces a photo or video for personal use, or to give away, gratis, no intellectual property-related commercial laws apply, either criminal or civil. But once anyone, including the producer or anyone else, receives anything of real value, including money or even a tuna sandwich, in exchange for ownership or reproduction rights to the photo, video or whatever, all sorts of I.P. laws come into play, both criminal and civil.

And the odd part is that even though the original producer had no intention of receiving any payment for the piece, he or she retains copyrights should someone down the line decide to make a buck or two off the "free" piece, even if the original producer specifically states that the piece is free via public domain declarations. It's not like picking up a free paperback at a garage sale and then reselling it. Intellectual property has very different rules. 

Hello Chuck Lane --- please do not confuse having "a lot of background in the legalities of graphic art and intellectual property law" with knowing actual LAWS regarding commercial drone use or intellectual property rights. As a mere hobbyist and not as a commercial pilot, should I create an aerial video at 2:pm with NO intention of selling the footage and then at 3:pm decide to sell it, I can, and I will have broken no laws at all, none, zip, nada, zero and I have broken no FAA regulations or suggested rules. Also, should I upload a video I created to the web stating it is FREE for anyone to have, own, or to use in any manner they wish, they legally can.....and they can sell it and I would have zero recourse against them regarding intellectual property or anything else. That's exactly how it should be and it is EXACTLY "like picking up a free paperback at a garage sale". The only thing odd is that you have learned extremely little about the law, including the intellectual property trail, grasshopper.

Hello Ray Dunakin  --- Here's what you should understand clearly. Should one create an aerial video as part of a hobby only activity, with no intention whatsoever of generating income from it and someone offers to buy that video the second the copter lands and the props are off, they may sell it to them because IT IS PERFECTLY LEGAL to do so and without fear of legal reprocussions from the FAA or any arm of the law. Don't doubt what you just read. It's the truth. It's a fact and if anyone does not believe it, I suggest they go check it out with a competent Aerial Video attorney before they type out their contrary and false "opinion" and end up looking extremely misinformed. Don't doubt me.

How do you explain the FAA sending cease and desist letters to hobbyists posting videos on YouTube??? It has been done and if you doubt this go ahead and try, your don't doubt me will get you nowhere

 drones should be banned except for commercial use. Nothing good coming from them. Maybe some intrusive cool videos but all kinds of privacy and safety issues are stemming from this trend. Not to mention, inconsiderate operators not thinking of others when they fly. imagine you hike 8 miles to a remote waterfall, you're there enjoying, then all of a sudden some self centered, inconsiderate drone operator is buzzing around taking pictures or videos. 

Dave, with all due respect, if I've hiked 8 miles to a waterfall with my Phantom UAV to take video I can show my disabled wife upon my return, it would take no more than 15 minutes to do so and would be as nonintrusive as possible. If you're unwilling to allow me the time necessary to record a few minutes of natural wonder to share with the woman I've been with most of my life, I would have to say you're the self-centered, inconsiderate one. It's getting more dificult every day what with permanent road closures and other measures designed to enhance physically abled hikers experience, to provide that same experience to handicapped individuals, and for many UAV videos have become a source of that experience. Traditional videography and photography are an excellent means of providing that experience as well, but UAV video is spectacular and imparts a sense of mobility even the most physically abled among us can appreciate. So how about sharing the world's natural wonders instead of denying those who enjoy them in a different way than you?   

Dave, with all due respect, you seriously need to grow up and get out of your annoying, old ways that make absolutely no sense. If I hiked 8 miles to a remote waterfall and I want to take aerial photography or videos of said waterfall, then I'm going to, whether you like it or not. I've never understood why people like you only care about themselves and nobody else.

Aaron, it seems Dave's 'old ways' are cherished by National Parks now banning drones.  People who want to go out and enjoy a natural environment are not the selfish ones.

Privacy issues?  this is totally ridiculous as those drones have a wide angle lens, meaning that from 100 feet hight, you would look like a tiny thing in the footage.  We would not even be able to recognize the person below.  They don't have zoom possibility either.  People are too ignorant to understand that taking a photograph from like 50 to 100 feet high with a wide angle lens is not going to give anyone any detail about them or their face, or their privacy.  Also shooting in the air is VERY dangerous as people get killed that way in the USA each year.  If one shoot a drone and miss it, then the bullet is going to fall down and many people get killed or wounded by this type of projectile each year.  This is plain STUPID and DANGEROUS!  I cannot understand any authority that would allow such stupidity.

Non Commercial Drones should be banned? No, Sparky....people who promote that insane thought should be banned from the internet. So yes, go take a hike.

Anonymous wrote:

Non Commercial Drones should be banned? No, Sparky....people who promote that insane thought should be banned from the internet. So yes, go take a hike.

yeah go take a hike libtard 

Anonymous wrote:

 drones should be banned except for commercial use. Nothing good coming from them. Maybe some intrusive cool videos but all kinds of privacy and safety issues are stemming from this trend. Not to mention, inconsiderate operators not thinking of others when they fly. imagine you hike 8 miles to a remote waterfall, you're there enjoying, then all of a sudden some self centered, inconsiderate drone operator is buzzing around taking pictures or videos. 

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