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Commercial Aerial Photography/Videography

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I have been flying quadcopters now for about 10 months and now considering purchasing the Inspire 1 to begin my own business but having been part of this board and many others I must admit I am absolutely confused.... Can someone please help me?

I see some posts in this forum and others that say commercial aerial photography / Videography is illegal. Is that true? If so, it seems like I see a lot of guys discussing different posts in this forum that are doing commercial aerial photography and videography... How are they able to take on these projects?

Thx
 
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I know a guy who does weddings. He can not charge to fly the drone but instead charges for the prints and video editing. he said that as long as it is under $500 it can be done.
The F.A.A. has other ideas.
Not sure where they will end up on the rulings.
I am to do mapping but not sure how i can work that out especially since does not have groundstation yet.
 
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If you are in the USA the FAA (who have authority over aviation issues) say commercial use is illegal unless you are one of the 11 companies they have granted exemptions to. Their stance is ridiculous and belongs back in the dark ages. Lots of operators are ignoring their stupid ruling and working safely and staying below the radar. Although it's often mentioned in forums, the "not charging for flying - charging for editing" line won't fly at all with authorities. The FAA is stupid - but not stupid enough to be fooled by that.
 
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Jre

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I was interested in the phantom a year before I made my first quadcopter purchase, the Phantom 2 Vision.

Several months before pulling the initial trigger, I did extensive research / reading on these consumer "UAVs" / "drones", and at one point became seemingly obsessed with gathering all of the info I could on this particular subject: commercial use.

Here are a couple of points that I gathered back then (late 2013 / early 2014), on this whole "illegal for commercial purposes" topic:

1. The FAA claims that flying UAS for commercial purposes is unauthorized, and they have a "regulation" against it.

2. There was a case against a guy who was using a glider and FPV goggles commercially for a university. The FAA felt that he was flying recklessly and endangering people. His lawyer claimed that the FAA does not have a legally enforced rule against flying commercially.

Way too many articles to link here, just search "trappy FAA". But here is his video:

3. FAA has shut a few operations down with cease-and-desist orders.
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/15/faa-halts-mans-drone-photography-business-over-regulations/

4. FAA spokesperson stated that the FAA will only go after commercial UAV operators with a fine if they are endangering people.
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/local/louisiana/2014/11/15/louisiana-abuzz-growing-drone-business/19095045/
"FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the agency’s preferred approach is education.

Typically that means an informal call or visit to explain the regulations, he said. The agency hasn’t assessed civil penalties for commercial operations, only for “careless and reckless” flying."


5. Judge ruled that commercial drones are completely legal (for now):
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/commercial-drones-are-completely-legal-a-federal-judge-ruled
http://www.dronejournalismlab.org/post/78814729933/judge-rejects-faas-drone-ban-now-what
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/commercial-drones-just-got-legalized-heres-why
(If there are any more recent articles on this case [as the FAA appealed] please post.)


In regards to not flying above 400 feet, that is based off of a 1981 advisory circular encouraging voluntary compliance with safety standards:

http://www.faa.gov/documentlibrary/media/advisory_circular/91-57.pdf

Other helpful links, directly from faa.gov:

Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft
Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft
What Can I Do With My Model Aircraft?


Yes, their current "regulation" and standing is ridiculous. But I think that they realized they messed up by being late to the "party" and are trying to act like the voice of authority until they have real legal regulations in place. If they want us to register for a permit and whatnot come September so they can get their piece of the pie, then so be it.
 
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Jre

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...this Trappy stooge deserved to be fined, its just this kind of thing that gives the FAA/Govt the reasoning/excuse to further regulate our lives...
.
IIIDaemon
www.GasRecovery.net
I wouldn't say he deserves to be fined $10,000, but if he can't find a safer place to fly like that, then he shouldn't be flying. His video wasn't even good. Too fast, although maybe it was sped up, but pointless. Doesn't really show off an aerial perspective of the university, just shows someone doing unsafe stunts over people and traffic.

I personally think we should have to obtain a permit to effectively weed out the idiots with disposable income and who don't know what they're doing or bother to learn safely and properly

I have no doubt I would pass whatever test they would have to obtain a permit.

And the fee, as long as it's not several hundred dollars or more, would be negligible compared to how much one can make commercially, legal and worry-free.
 
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I wouldn't say he deserves to be fined $10,000, but if he can't find a safer place to fly like that, then he shouldn't be flying. His video wasn't even good. Too fast, although maybe it was sped up, but pointless. Doesn't really show off an aerial perspective of the university, just shows someone doing unsafe stunts over people and traffic.

I personally think we should have to obtain a permit to effectively weed out the idiots with disposable income and who don't know what they're doing or bother to learn safely and properly

I have no doubt I would pass whatever test they would have to obtain a permit.

And the fee, as long as it's not several hundred dollars or more, would be negligible compared to how much one can make commercially, legal and worry-free.
.
...agreed, 10k might be a lil much, Permit and/or Licensing fee agreed²...
.
...anonymous quote '..can't have nuthing nice..'
 
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Points to consider for those (and that includes me!) who are intending to use drones for commercial purposes, i.e., to charge for aerial video/photos for weddings, real estate listings, etc. Make now mistake, right now the FAA has legal authority to fine anyone who uses a drone for commercial purposes - even for charging $1. They do not have authority to "charge you with a crime" so they cannot "take you to court" and have you facing possible jail time. But they can fine you which you can either pay or appeal to the NTSB. The FAA did that to a fellow - fined him $15,000 - he appealed to the NTSB which lowered the fine to (I think) $1,500. I imagine his attorney fees were many thousands of dollars. Many people are making money (illegally) doing commercial work with drones, but consider this... I get a small job from a realtor friend videoing an estate for his website. There is a problem... the drone strikes a girl and cuts her face. The liability (just the medical) could be hundred of thousands but the "negligence" (there would be a lawsuit and trial) awarded by the jury could well be over a $1 million (the drone operator was using his drone illegally - that's what the jury would hear!). Would this be covered by your AMA insurance? Absolutely not. The same for your homeowner's insurance. Both would cover you if your flight was for recreation, not commercial purposes. I video horse shows, and carry a $3 million "business policy" just in case... my homeowner's will not cover me as I am "engaged in business." I do not want to risk my home and savings. Therefore I will NOT engage in commercial drone videography unless I can do so legally AND get business liability insurance.
 
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Maybe I shouldn't have bought those solid steel blades that I sharpen every night before going to bed...
 
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Jre

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jbcoons, sorry to be a word Nazi, but you throw around the word "illegally" too much. This FAA regulation is not a law. Flying RC aircraft for commercial purposes is not illegal. Yes, they can fine you for "violating" their "regulation", but it is not law. Of course their fine comes with the force of the law (the judge), if you decide to fight it. It's up to the judge to determine whether or not you have to pay the FAA's ridiculous fine for violating their non-law regulation. If you happen to lose and refuse to pay the fine, however, I'd imagine you'd be sentenced to serve jail time or community service, but only for failure to pay a government fine, not for committing the [non-]crime of flying a drone il[legally].

http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1771

If you harmed someone (and BTW if you're flying with girls standing around / in the way, then you shouldn't be flying), then it would only be a criminal or civil case for possible negligence if the injured or parents decided to press charges. This particular scenario would have nothing to do with the so-called FAA regulation, unless for some ungodly reason they go to the FAA to complain instead of their local police. Even then their regulation wouldn't hold up because I assume the accident in this scenario is caused by loss of control of your craft, and the FAA can't hold you liable for reckless flying if you no longer have control (providing that you were flying safely before losing control).
 
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Jre, Good points - I did not realize the difference between a law and a regulation. You say that violating a regulation is different that violating a law and that violating a regulation can result in a fine. That's also what I said. But my overriding point is that flying a drone commercially can have consequences much more "significant" to us and others than a fine. Ever hear of a "flyaway?" Maybe my drone hits someone 2 blocks away. Who is responsible? The girl's medical insurance will investigate as it is an "accident" and will come after me to pay via a lawsuit. If her parents feel I am responsible they will sue me. (I have to point out that if I were not flying the drone she would not be injured.) I carry auto insurance. I have business liability insurance that most probably will not cover me as I am "violating FAA regulations." Again - let me state clearly - my concern is that I cannot be financially protected from accidents if I use my drone commercially. Once the FAA gets their act together and creates regulations as mandated by Congress then we can get insurance (or at least those who feel the need to protect their assets, e.g., their homes). Some people choose to drive without automobile liability insurance... if they injure my family and have no money, I guess I will just foot the medical bills myself. Whenever we fly a drone or drive a car we need to accept financial responsibility for any accidents we might cause - for "hobby" use our homeowner's and AMA insurance does that, but NOT if we are using the drone commercially.
 

Jre

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I see where you're coming from. I don't think the AMA would cover it. But technically, if you had a real business, I think your liability insurance would cover it. You'd just have to find a company who will cover you and either not care about non-law FAA regulations, or one who is simply ignorant to them.

Edit: And again, it's not currently illegal to have an aerial photography business. But you may lose it if you give in to a "cease and desist" from the FAA.

Double edit: All in all, it's best to just stay under the radar and fly safe and not make this a primary source of income, or wait until there are actual permits if you don't want to fear receiving a letter from the FAA (unlikely).
 
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