Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

So is it legal or not?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by rctoyguy, Nov 11, 2014.

  1. rctoyguy

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
    re: being paid for pictures taken with my Phantom

    I've read articles saying it's illegal, and I've read articles saying it is legal. I know of people that have said they will keep doing it (for money) until someone stops them. To this point, I've refused jobs just to be safe, but I get so many people asking me to do it, I've got to find out the legal aspect.

    I have tried to find law info, not just forum posts, but I haven't had any luck. Can someone point me to legitimate documentation one way or the other? This is about the law in the United States, particularly Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee (if they are different)
     
  2. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    7,701
    Likes Received:
    3,425
  3. rctoyguy

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
    That's the same kind of things I've seen - I'd like to find the legal documentation somewhere, but state legal sites are a nightmare to navigate - especially with all of the legal jargon.

    My guess - is that hobbyists who have a chance to make a little side money shooting a quick aerial video for someone every once in a while are doing it and just keeping quiet.
     
  4. CaptMike

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    North Myrtle Beach
    Yes... Check Facebook some folks are brave enough to make Drone's For Hire pages.
     
  5. rctoyguy

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2013
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
    Thanks yall...
     
  6. yawnalot29

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    661
    Likes Received:
    116
    I think as long as you obtain permit, it is allowed.

    From FAA web site, lots more information on UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems)

    https://www.faa.gov/uas/


    Essentially since you are not part of any government entities (police, homeland security, etc), you are not in the "Public USA category. So you are either Model Aircraft or Civil UAS. The short answer (as far as I can tell), if you get paid, you are under "Civil UAS".

    To qualify as "Model Aircraft", there's a set of "guideline" that you need to meet. It's spell out here:

    https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/model_air ... c_rule.pdf

    Go ahead and go down to page 6, bullet item 1.


    Then you can skip down to page 9, 2nd paragraph for clarification of what is "for hobby or recreational purposes". And to be clear, it's also spell out again on page 10, 1st paragraph.

    And as if that's not clear enough, the distinction is further spell out on page 11 in a table. I would point you to the table on page 11, under the "Not Hobby or Recreation" column.




    You can read it and form your own opinion on that.
     
  7. CactusJackSlade

    Joined:
    May 29, 2014
    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    110
    It depends on if you feel the FAA's "rules" (not officially laws) are binding.... it's in the courts right now.

    As for a permit, unless you mean an exemption from the FAA (Like the recent 7 Hollywood drone operators got) then a permit from..... whom do you mean?
     
  8. yawnalot29

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    661
    Likes Received:
    116
    Yes of course I agree with you on that. Like any law, it's open to the enforcement agency's interpretation until it's challenged in court. So pragmatically, as an individual, does any of us have the resources to fight this out in court with FAA? I think that's the more relevant question.

    In this sense, it's no different from IRS and their interpretation of our tax code. If you get audited, you could always fight it out in tax court. :)
     
  9. Prylar Bek

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    765
    Likes Received:
    23
    Why would it be illegal? It's a tool. No different then shooting with a Cannon 5D for a living
     
  10. HarryT

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    622
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Warrington, UK
    It would be illegal because the FAA says it's illegal, and the FAA are the body who legally controls the use of airspace in the US.
     
  11. Prylar Bek

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    765
    Likes Received:
    23
    BullShit I regualry shoot with drones and helicopters with no problem,
     
  12. SilentAV8R

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    943
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Orange County, CA - USA
    So simply doing something and not getting caught makes it legal??

    Bottom line is the FAA thinks it is not legal to use an RC aircraft to make money unless they specifically authorize it. Keep a low profile and they will likely not catch you, but if they do be prepared for an expensive legal battle.
     
  13. Suwaneeguy

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    Messages:
    701
    Likes Received:
    22
    Let me make this perfectly clear. The FAA currently has a tendency to write its own version of the "law".
    Then they blatantly taunt that version as the actual law because they are banking on the fact that YOU, the stuipid and ignorant citizen, won't bother to check the real words of the true law.
    Currently, the USA FAA only has authority over properly licensed aircraft and pilots. Including some aircraft, such as ultralights, that require no license to operate.
    The FAA, by federal law, has absolutely NO authority over RCMA. Period.
    For commercial use or private hobby use.
    Certificates and permits to fly are not required. It is just another bullying tactic by the FAA to try and control all flights of anything.

    If you want authoritative information on the subject see www.dronelawjournal.com
    It is written by Peter Sachs who is an attorney and a phantom pilot and has fought the FAA.
     
  14. SilentAV8R

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    943
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Orange County, CA - USA
    Be that as it may, the fact remains that as long as the FAA thinks it has the authority there is the potential to incur steep legal fees fighting them. I'm pretty sure Peter Sachs, Brendan Schulman, etc. do not work for free.

    And I will beg to differ with you on the point of commercial versus hobby. Section 336 of the FMRA spells out very clearly that "model" aircraft are used only for hobby/recreational purposes. Use it to make money and it is no longer an exempted RCMA.

    Having said that, there is a huge gray area and legal pit regarding if the FAA currently has authority over commercial use of radio control aircraft. I tend to think that they do not have the control they think they have. The coming sUAS Rule will supposedly spell that out more clearly (if FAA regulations actually make thing more clear!!).
     
  15. SilentAV8R

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    943
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Orange County, CA - USA
    Little follow on here. The NTSB just ruled that the FAA's view that we are in fact aircraft is upheld in the Case of Pirker:

    http://www.ntsb.gov/legal/pirker/5730.pdf

    It now goes back to determining if Pirker's flight was careless of reckless. But we are aircraft, end of story. This opens the door to the FAA all the way.
     
  16. Peter Patricelli

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Eugene, OR USA
    You are NOT going to get a carved in granite clear answer....right now. In the final analysis, "legal" is something that is covered or prohibited by a clear LAW....AND.....AFTER that law has been upheld by a court after challenge. THAT situation does not exist right now.

    The FAA directive is NOT a LAW in the usual sense. It HAS been challenged (and is still being challenged) and the initial verdicts were AGAINST the FAA. Since the FAA wants to keep a lid on the situation until their final guidelines come out....they are NOT declaring the situation unenforceable since the intimidation factor continues to suppress activity. You are a prime example of that.

    Furthermore, state, county, and city jurisdictions HAVE passed an irregular quilt of true LAWS (most of which have not yet been challenged in court) trying to stay ahead of perceived "problems" in drone use. Soooo, the answer is.....as always....."It Depends!"

    I hope this is clear....that it is NOT clear. And this is worth exactly what you paid for it.
     
  17. yawnalot29

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2014
    Messages:
    661
    Likes Received:
    116
    FAA does not dispute it has no authority over RCMA. It does make a distinction on what it consider as RCMA and what's not. The same federal law does not make a clear enough distinction that allowing FAA to make their own.
     
  18. Fyod

    Joined:
    May 21, 2014
    Messages:
    684
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    Central EU
    ^ Exactly. They have to differentiate two things here:
    A) flying a lightweight UAV
    B) making a photo or video with a GoPro

    They would have to ban all UAV flight. The GoPro could be on a stick, noone has the right to judge how a video was taken. You could tie the GoPro to a baloon. It is noone's business to care what tools were used to make the shot, as long as the shot itself was legal. Google has shots from up high too and uses them for profit.
    Why weren't commercial shots from regular helicopters banned?
     
  19. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2014
    Messages:
    7,701
    Likes Received:
    3,425
    Not trying to defend the FAA at all but ..
    Google Earth photography is taken from commercial aerial photography planes that are all legal for commercial flight and approved by the FAA. Commercial shooting from a helicopter will have a certified pilot and an aircraft that is in compliance with FAA rules.

    The real issue is why is it completely legal to fly and film but is illegal if you sell the same pics?
     
  20. Fyod

    Joined:
    May 21, 2014
    Messages:
    684
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    Central EU
    There's no logic in it because you can take the same picture from a skyscraper.
    The problem for the FAA is that these things are affordable and easy to fly and they have no other ideas on how to regulate them. I don't see a reason to.
    Its the same as if some organization regulated RC cars. I remember when I had one as a kid and we used to drive around on the streets and those things were so fast, I almost broke my ankle once. That doesn't mean there should be RC driver's licenses.
    If they're afraid people are going to fly over Lady Gaga's house, than they should work on the privacy aspect, not regulate who gets to fly and who gets to sell footage of scenery that does not breach anyone's privacy. Most of us are trying to use these things to legally offer a new perspective and solve problems that weren't financially viable years ago. And I for one don't need a paper to prove that.