Just WHAT ARE the Rules?
Turn on the TV and drones are all over the news. Also referred to as UAS (unmanned aircraft system) and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle); we’ve seen reports that they can potentially save a life, and we’ve seen circumstances where they’re a blatant intrusion of one’s privacy. While there are many rules in place currently, and more to come, there are a lot of grey lines.
What are the rules? Do we know who is enforcing the rules? And what will happen if that “Enforcer” catches you flying your drone. Here’s what we DO know:
1.) There are Privacy Laws
Make sure you are following all UAV regulations for your state. While the regulations for UAV’s are lagging, some states still put some in place. For example, in North Carolina the SB 744 “prohibits any entity from conducting UAS surveillance of a person or private property and also prohibits taking a photo of a person without their consent or the purpose of distributing it. The law creates a civil cause of action for those whose privacy is violated.” The bill put felonies in place for UAV’s, so you might want to brush up on the laws that are in place.
When flying your drone make sure you are flying at the appropriate height. There are restrictions to how high you can go, (usually 400 feet), and you cannot enter air space.
2.) There are Nuisance Laws
In California, a production crew was shooting footage for a start-up on a neighborhood street. One of the neighbors came out and asked them not to shoot inside his house. He proceeded to knock the drone down with his t-shirt. While, the production crew flying the drone may not have been breaking the law, after all, they were flying under the mandated-height requirement, the neighbor did find them to be a nuisance.
3.) You may need FAA Authorization
You need authorization from the FAA if you are news media gathering news, or a hobby drone pilot that intends to capture news and sell it to the news media. If you are a hobby drone pilot that does not intend to capture news, but do come across news and then give the resulting video or images to the media, you do not need FAA authorization. Same goes for the news media if they acquire news captured by an unaffiliated third-party drone pilot. For a more in-depth review about the FAA’s requirements read the FAA’s Assistant Chief Counsel for Regulations dates May 5, 2015 entitled Media Use of UAS.
4.) Do Make Sure You Have a Permit If You Want To Get Paid
It is imperative to have a permit if you’re shooting drone footage for profit (shooting a commercial or surveying an area.) To get your permit, you must apply to the FAA for a commercial exemption. Additionally, the FAA sponsors an online site Know Before You Fly, where you can find additional information.
5.) Commercial Use is Prohibited Without Proper Consent
The FAA currently authorizes the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for commercial or business purposes on a case-by-case basis. If you want to use UAS for a commercial purpose, you have a few options. You can apply for an exemption from the FAA to operate commercially. You can use UAS with an FAA airworthiness certificate and operate pursuant to FAA rules. In both cases you would also need an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA).
That last one’s a kicker, because as a digital marketing agency, we love using drone footage. It allows us to capture vantage points that consumers are not accustomed to experiencing. To achieve the wide range of angles and shots that drones can provide, we used to have to rent a helicopter, or pay for an entire crew to manage cranes and dollies. Have we used drone footage?
Yes. And it rocked! Take a look at the video we produced for our client CMP. This was before the waters got muddy, and we claim innocence. We do however want to use more drone footage and if it is something that our clients want, then we will see how far we can get following the steps in #5. Hey, it’s worth A SHOT!