Your video business is breaking the law: Drones

Drones are all the rage right now. By that I mean, that they are popular to photographers and videographers, and enraging to the legal institution.

The facts are pretty simple... yet complicated.

Many people have claimed that it is legal to fly a drone commercially (meaning for your business) as long as you stay on your property, and fly it below 400 feet.

That's not true. The air above your property is not your property. It's the FAA's job to regulate that airspace and (at the time of this article's writing) it is currently illegal to fly a UAV (unmanned aeral vehicle) for commercial use.

That doesn't just mean those that get paid for the use. It covers anyone who uses it for their own business even if you don't get paid directly for use. So farmers that spy on their cattle in a far away field, or realestate videgoraphers who war getting paid for beauty shots... you're both breaking the law if you haven't gotten permission from the FAA to fly.


So, has the regulation stopped anyone? I'm not sure. I'm going to come out and say it, although after an afternoon of looking at laws and regulations, I'm a little scared to. I own a drone. I fly a drone. I have used it for commercial purposes. I've broken the law.

At the time of my last commercial flight, I was a little unclear on the law. I had felt like it was sufficient to trust the internet's loudest 'know-nothings' who said, "it's at least legal until 2015." apparently that's incorrect.

So where does that leave us. What should we do. Should we stop flying. At this point it wouldn't hurt my video business to stop flying all that much. I don't sell jobs based on aerial. At least not very often. However, I can see it coming. It's quite a big deal. The FAA will, hopefully soon, explain to us what they want us to do to comply with the law. If I understand it right, we should have some more information by the end of 2015.

I think it's safe to say that drones are not going away. Drones are being used commercially by a lot of companies world-wide. The list, you should look up sometime, is staggering at what drones are being either used for, or considered for.

So there are a few options for those who either own or are considering buying a drone for commercial use.

1. Break the law.
2. Be a hobbyist
3. Try to get FAA permission (there are only a handful of cases that people have)
4. Don't do it.

Sucks, but that's where we are. I wish it was free and clear, but the FAA has their work cut out for them.

An FAA worker was quoted as saying "the reality is, there is no way to patrol it."

The whole thing makes me think of new FCC regulations that cropped up a few years ago. New regulations came out that a certain bandwidth of radio wave would be illegal to transmit on. I happened to be looking for wireless mics at the time. I found a ridiculously good deal on a set of wireless mics. I couldn't figure out why, until I saw an article on the new bandwidth regulations. I checked the new mics I bought, and sure enough they were illegal.

We may see a wave of businesses and owners liquidating pre-regulated models of drones in the next few years. This is totally a guess, but I'd say things will change. Hopefully the FCC will find a way to make it easy.

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