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Apparently the Federal Aviation Administration really does not want you to put drone videos on YouTube.
Drones, quad copters, remotely piloted aircraft or in FAA terms “unmanned aerial systems,” are gaining national attention.
The devices are illegal for commercial use, but recreational flying is allowed as long as controllers follow safety guidelines.
Earlier this week, Jayson Hanes, a drone hobbyist who has been posting drone-shot videos online for the last year, received a legal notice from the FAA.
According to Motherboard, the FAA told Hanes that since there are ads on YouTube, his drone flights are considered a commercial use of the technology , which subjects him to stricter regulations and enforcement from the agency.
“This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the website youtube.com as evidence,” the letter reads. “After a review of your website, it does appear that the complaint is valid.”
There are only a couple of businesses that have received FAA authorization to use drones for commercial use, but for the daily hobbyist, legal expert Frank Polk said it is against FAA policy to use drones in business or related to business.
Drone enthusiasts are fighting back, claiming there are no enforceable federal regulations regarding operating a model airplane, just policies.
Many are left wondering where does commercial use begin and hobby use end.
According to the FAA’s letter to Hanes, if drone-obtained video is ever sold in any way, it becomes commercial.
“With this letter the FAA is claiming that drone-obtained art created by a hobbyist becomes retroactively ‘commercial’ if it is ever sold, or if, as here, it is displayed on a website that offers monetization in the form of advertising,” Peter Sachs, a Connecticut-based attorney specializing in drone issues told Motherboard. “Selling art is unquestionably one’s right, and the government is forbidden from infringing upon that right.”
Hanes told Motherboard that although his videos are “monetized” on YouTube, he has received less than a dollar from Google.
In the meantime, those who fly drones for commercial use face fines or even jail time as the FAA investigates.