FAA bans uploading YouTube videos with drone footage

16 Mar 2015

Drone at the beach. Image via Lee/Flickr

In yet another effort to clamp down on the growth of personal drones, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has ruled that uploading footage of drones to YouTube is illegal.

The growth of drone use both by the general public and commercial operators is once again causing issue in the US, where drone operators have challenged legal rulings by the FAA that severely limit their use, most noticeably that its operator must be within sight of the craft, as well as restrictions on flights over government property.

Now, however, according to Motherboard, one particular drone user, Jayson Hanes, found himself on the wrong side of the law after the FAA issued a legal notice to him over his drone footage that he regularly posted to his YouTube channel around Tampa, Florida.

According to the FAA, the issue was down to a technicality where the money Haynes was making from his videos through advertising constituted as a commercial operation, which is still forbidden.

Greater legal framework needed

Given these circumstances, it now effectively means that any footage posted online will now be a commercial operation ruling out hundreds of videos that have already been posted by drone operators.

As there is no defined legal framework written as to what constitutes a commercial operation, the reasons for Hanes’ warning seems quite odd. According to his interview with Motherboard, his videos are enabled for adverts to appear on them, but due to their low view counts, he has received less than US$1.

However, speaking after the letter was issued, the FAA has said it is now looking into the process of dealing with complaints against drone operators by safety operators with a spokesperson saying, “The FAA’s goal is to promote voluntary compliance by educating individual UAS operators about how they can operate safely under current regulations and laws.

“The FAA’s guidance calls for inspectors to notify someone with a letter and then follow up. The guidance does not include language about advertising. The FAA will look into the matter.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic