Jayson Hanes, a UAV enthusiast, is in the middle of an FAA-induced controversy. He received a letter [pdf link] from the FAA telling him that they received a complaint about his commercial use of UAVs and it appers to be valid because he has monetization on his YouTube channel. He does’t do commercial aerial photography, in other words, he has never been hired nor is he for hire for your next wedding. He simply flies his DJI Phantom Vision around, records the sights and posts the video on YouTube. Ah, he is also enrolled in YouTube’s monetization program, so ads show up either before you watch his videos or a small banner is shown.
Jason Koebler, staff writer at Motherboard, wrote an article about this incident, and the headline is perhap a little misleading: The FAA Says You Can’t Post Drone Videos on YouTube. His opening sentance could also be interpreted as a bit misleading:
If you fly a drone and post footage on YouTube, you could end up with a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration.
If you read the entire article, the FAA aparently has contacted Motherboard and offered the following statement:
“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 agency said. “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.”
What does this mean? Basically, this incident was blown out of proportion and it seems to me that Micheal Singleton, whose title appears to be FAA Aviation Safety Inspector Airworthiness might have pulled the trigger without doing due diligence. After all, all kinds of first amendment issues come up. Can the FAA restrict people from posting the “drone” videos, monetized or not? That seems very unlikely, due to the sheer number of FPV videos on YouTube.
But this incident does bring up good point that the FAA needs to clarify. Like, what does “commercial” use entail? It really can’t be making a couple of pennies by running YouTube ads. Really!
Update: Seems like Mashable also picked up on this story, or is simply re-blogging the original Motherboard article. Posting drone videos to YouTube could get you into hot water
Update #2: The Tampa Bay Fox affiliate just published an article titled “Drone hobbyist gets ‘cease and desist’ letter from the FAA”, which is completely false and deceiving. The accompanying video does a decent job at explaining the situation, but that title is just completely false. Clickbait perhaps?