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Threatening Email about FAA regulation

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by bassethoundeye, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. bassethoundeye

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    So I am a hobbyist. I made few videos of flying drones on my own.

    I thought it would be cool to share the hobby and just charge the minimum.

    So I put an ad on craigslist. I offered to do it like around $100. (including driving back and forth, operating drone there, risking my drone plus some editing) it costs like $100 per day to just to rent so I am basically donating my labor because I don't care about making money doing this.

    Havent really heard from anyone for couple month. someone asked 'do you have 333 exemption' and I replied by saying 'no'

    he said he took IP address down and will forward it to FAA.

    I asked him 'for what? is it illegal to fly drone for fun?'

    he replied by saying some guy thought it was funny but he got fined for $10,000 and he will call FAA everyday till they investigate it. he captured my craigslist ad with my phone number on it.
    That's all he has. The online ad.

    He must be one miserable [expletive removed] from drone company who's afraid of losing clients from hobbyist
    (is it illegal for mechanics offering their work on craigslist? I think so. but who cares?)

    anyways, have you guys dealt with these kind of incidents before?
     
    #1 bassethoundeye, Nov 28, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2015
  2. Joesrevolution

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    I'm from the UK myself so I'm not 100% on the american laws governing these drones, but in the UK you need a license and insurance to fly for 'monetary consideration' it seems that your 333 exemption is the same as our licence. So you asking for money to fly your UAV would be breaking the law. However (but don't quote me on this) I see no problem with charging to drive out to a client and charge for your editing time but fly for free. I've heard of people doing that before (not sure how things turned out) But if you want a way to avoid getting your 333 that seems like the only way...

    As for the guy it does seem a little unfair, I can't imagine anything will come of it since you haven't actually undertaken any of this work and as of yet haven't broken any laws. You might get an email from the FAA but I can't imagine you getting into any more trouble.

    Just my 2 cents...
     
  3. Martin Smith

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    It's not a law yet... Ignore the Prick
     
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  4. msinger

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    Miserable or not, the guy is right. You cannot charge for your services in the US unless you have a 333 exemption -- and, meet the requirements of the exemption. A lot of people (e.g. Martin above) will tell you otherwise, but the following video explains it accurately:



    If this guy really does contact the FAA, they might possibly call you and/or send you a letter to educate you. I don't think they will take legal action against you though. They have bigger fish to fry.
     
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  5. barefootbeachcombing

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    Yep. You are not a "hobbyist" if you are charging money for the service of flying your Phantom. But it's likely the the FAA would not bother you based on your description of the incident.
     
  6. Suspended Moments

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    You "can" wait for the local FAA to send you a cease and desist letter... the screen captures and any evidence that you have offered drone services for any amount of money puts you in the "commercial use" category, no matter how much you're charging/profiting. It has (in my area) always been the case that some photographer who has either paid fees for the 333FAA exemption, or has been shut down, will be the one turning you in. The FAA doesn't hunt you down, but hey have to respond when they are contacted...

    Keep in mind, there are lots of operators out there who are operating under the premise of "come and get me if you can" or "everyone is doing it, figure the odds"... well, that's like speeding.. even IF you are driving with the fast pack... when someone gets pulled over, the defense of "everyone was speeding" isn't going to work... so "you" admit you were speeding... TICKET.

    I only know of two cases where the individual ignored the "letter"... it's expensive to defend yourself and even if you don't end up paying 10k, on individual got out of it for circa 3K plus legal fees. Not worth it in my opinion.. have fun, do it for FREE if you like... and never advertise that you offer drone/video/photo services for a fee however small.

    If they give you a "tip" :) well was that a fee? I'm no lawyer.... don't challenge the man! They made it plain to a photographer in my area, that his entire photography business was in jeopardy if he did not comply.

    WE are all waiting for a more reasonable set of rules and regulations regarding both the FAA exemption and Piloting requirements... there is a BIG ongoing case in NYC right now... the FAA is going after a huge aerial video company that has operated for many years.. 1.9 MILLION dollar suit... but that's not YOU... but it will set many precedents that "we" will be paying very close attention to.
     
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  7. bassethoundeye

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    Yeah I didn't want to do it for money. Like I explained, spending hours and risking my drone for $100 is not worth for money and plus I didn't get even responses from the craigslist ad LOL
    (I am not sure how you can make money doing commercially unless you have a good connection and work out the deal with big companies. So be careful before spending money on serious equipments and 333 exemption to be your own boss. I didn't get any interest by charging only $100 bucks)

    He said those people who posted on craigslist already got fined. I am not sure if he was just bluffing to scare me. He said just having an intention to make money is illegal and you can get fined.

    bottom line, I wasn't even getting any interests from people even though I offered the bare minimum.
    So I have no problem not doing this anymore and just fly for own pleasure from this point. I will probably take some food as a payment :)
     
  8. bassethoundeye

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    those two cases you mentioned, did they actually fly for someone and received money or did they just post an ad somewhere?

    I don't even know how they can send me a letter. contact my cell phone company to get the address?
    I am guessing they had a business website and offered the service on the side without having 333?


     
  9. Suspended Moments

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    In both cases, the drone operator posted in Facebook, and a Photography Business Site. The practice is to capture screen shots and of course websites are located and owners identified through "who Is" searches... I'm pretty sure the reporting individual (the one turning them in) provides as much location and identification information as possible. They have a slow burn practice of watching, collecting and waiting for enough evidence to accumulate. They have asked monetized YouTube channels to remove drone video.... some businesses/photographers post those YouTube vids on their websites as evidence of their quality and experience... THAT locks them in.. I'm pretty sure you are safe, particularly since you have remove the ad and it's not an ongoing deal with you.

    Just have fun with your drone, I'm sure you will be fine! :)
     
  10. barefootbeachcombing

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    Yeah, this part is not true.
     
  11. transmetaman

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    My question is this..."have we passed a law that supports any of this?" I am not being flip either I really am serious I know there is a ton of things being considered and that the public has input but I am not clear where these "rules and laws" are being generated and enforced?
     
  12. Timtro

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    If you check the authors of the many drone restrictive new state laws, you will see that allmost all have (R) after their names. ...You know, the "deregulate", "business friendly" and "jobs" people. The same is true with with the general (Fox viewer) public and law enforcement, all of which would tell you they are for "less restrictive government", yet it is those very exact same people who are demanding that something needs to "be done" about "all these (bad) drones".

    Be very, very careful who you support.

    On the other side of the coin, it is people like FlyTrex with their contests (badges) to see who can fly the highest (over 400 ft) and furthest (beyond line of sight) that only add to the problem. FlyTrex is an excellent "black box" device but their marketing goes (too) far beyond that use. It can be useful proving you were not where somebody said you were, for example.

    There are many people, as you know, here on this forum who advocate for a kind of "wild west" mentality that doesn't help matters either.

    Rules are the price of civilization but an authoritarian mentality is the fuel of a police state. The trick is in finding and maintaining the balance.
     
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  13. Suspended Moments

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    They have current "regulations".. the "laws" are in play at this time... States, Counties and Cities are also passing their own restrictions which are tighter than Federal regs... go to the FAA website and see what the restrictions are... sending someone a cease and desist letter... is worlds away from prosecution....

    I personally can't "afford" to stand strong on principle here, as I probably would if I didn't have an established business... but if you want to be the mouse who flips off the Eagle like "Mr Smith" advises you to do... make a documentary about that...
     
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  14. Timtro

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    If you get one cent for your "hobby" it is no longer a "fun" hobby, it's a business. It's that simple.

    I (and 2,000+ others) spent a lot of time and money going through the process of filing for a 333, learning what I need to know about airspace, NOTAMS, TFRs, Vortex Ring, airspace, safety, regulations and all the rest. We play by the rules because the rules are what keeps things safe. What you don't know not only can hurt you, but others. Do you carry liability insurance? even a first aid kit?

    If you want to charge $1 or $100, then go through the process. If not, then don't cheat.Stay in your back hard, the AMA field or the park. Don't go into "business".

    By "donating" your labor you create a market price that the rest of us have to compete with.. and pay expenses from ....expenses that you don't have because you decided to cheat the game.
     
  15. tcope

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    Once you charge for a service you are operating commercially. According to the FAA, once you operate an aircraft commercially you come under their jurisdiction to regulate a commercial flight. This _is_ their view as they _will_ look into all complaints and send warning letters if they find this is the case. However, they have also not tested this by fining anyone (it may happen with the Skybus matter but it's not clear at this time). It's also debatable is they have the ability to to regulate all commercial use but a person would probably need to fight this in court.

    What happens is that someone who has spent thousands of dollars to obtain a 333 exemption is telling you that they are reporting you to the FAA. The FAA _would_ look into the matter if they receive a complaint. However, at the most you'd only receive a letter from the FAA as there is no proof that you've violated any regulation. But bottom line is that a "competitor" is protecting their time, money and effort that they have invested in their business.
     
  16. bassethoundeye

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    I don't think it's cheating.

    It's like offering a haircut on craigslist. do you have to carry a barber license? yes.
    If you are going cut hair in retail business environment, you are stupid not to have a license.
    But I don't think it's a big deal if you go to someone's house here and there to make some money on sides.
    However, because they don't have professional retail place, they are limited to charging certain amount of money and will have hard time getting customers.
    (I am sure I didn't get a response because I don't have website with portfolios)

    If you are a professional photographer, there are LOTS of amateur photographers you can find everywhere for cheap.
    The only way to compete with these guys is Offering Better Service.
    I bet if I mention 'how do you compete with those craigslist photographers' to a REAL pro photographer, he will laugh since he won't even look at them as a Threat.

    If you can't compete with those craigslist drone operator, then Obviously you lack skills.

    You might know more about those terms and theories than I do. but I bet I can create better films than you do. In the end, customers care about the final video, not your knowledge on FAA regulations.

    Bottom line, those commercial drone operators feel threatened by hobbyist because it doesn't take a lot of skills to shoot a decent video. It's not that hard to find someone who has a drone in your social circle these days. So you will be competing against these guys no matter how strict FAA regulates.
    If you want to stay in business, make some **** good video to beat those guys instead of relying on FAA like a crying kid running to a teacher to report something.

    Remember people used to go to studios to get pictures taken. Now with DSLR, we can take better pictures, edit easily and print at home so those average hometown studios are gone. Drone will be more accessible and easier to shoot better videos. I wonder how this will affect drone operating business.



     
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  17. bassethoundeye

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    yeah I guess those competitors are threatened by some dude who flew the drone probably 10 hours total.
    I just like creating good videos for fun. I think I will just offer it Free to people who fits in my concept on CL. Will it make some drone operator with 333 upset? possibly.
    I see it no different than photographers getting mad at 'I take pictures for free' ad. But NONE of them will.



     
  18. TheRealNick

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    I am going to fuel this fire a bit for fun!! If he only has your Craigslist protected email there is no way he can find you without their help and I doubt they would help.

    Now for the fun, the IRS has some definitions that will make something you do a hobby versus a business. Basically, if you make no profit then IRS considers the activity a hobby and not a business. It seems you could charge a tiny bit to cover your costs and as long as you make no profit that would be your argument....

    This doesn't help anyone that wants to start a business, but if someone wants to do an occasional shot for pocket change....

    Finally, the FAA is trying to get something out before Jan 1, so everything maybe different in the next month anyway....
     
  19. yorlik

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    to be clear, YES IT IS THE LAW.

    Ignorance of the law like this is no defense.
     
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  20. yorlik

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    $100 IS money. You have offered to "do it for money."

    You are breaking the law. If you want to do it for money, submit a 333 exemption form and do it legally.

    This is no commentary on whether having to get a 333 'license' is right or wrong, it is just the raw facts. You can write all the "but I am only..." stuff you want, but the FACT is you are breaking the law charging even 1 cent.
     
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