The PJ Tatler

The FAA Doesn't Want You Posting Drone Videos on the Internet

The Federal Aviation Administration has begun a crackdown on people who post videos taken from their drones on the internet. The first shot came last week, when the FAA sent a four-page letter to a drone hobbyist.

Jayson Hanes, a drone hobbyist, was issued a cease-and-desist letter from the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday that warned him he’d violated drone regulations by using drones for commercial use without proper authorization.

The FAA letter says that the agency had received a complaint the drone video was being used for commercial purposes and determined the complaint was valid.

“This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the web site Youtube.com as evidence.

“After a review of your web site, it does appear that the complaint is valid.”

It’s not clear what exactly the FAA means by “commercial purposes.” Are they claiming he was selling his video? Are they claiming he was selling something that was video-taped by the drone, like a house or a car?

According to FoxNews 13, Hanes isn’t making any money off his videos.

“I have never accepted a payment from Google, or YouTube in any shape or form for this,” Hanes said. “They maybe enabled it to collect page-views, but I’m not getting paid for it. This is not a commercial operation, I’m not selling anything. If anything, it’s YouTube trying to recover costs for hosting the content and making it available on their platform.” (You can visit Haynes’ YouTube channel here: http://youtube.com/jaysonhanes)

The agency, like all government agencies, has the authority to initiate a legal action and levy a fine against Mr. Hanes. In fact the letter explains that “the FAA has the authority under its existing regulations to pursue legal enforcement actions when the operations endanger the safety of the National Airspace System.” So apparently we are to believe this guy’s drone videos “endanger the safety of the National Airspace System” too.

Fox News 13 explains that “the FAA is interested is the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles — which some call drones — falls under a different category than hobbyist or recreational model aircraft.” But it seems the FAA has confused the commercial nature of YouTube with the users of the YouTube’s service.

I imagine this issue will ultimately play out in a court room somewhere.