http://www.videomaker.com/article/15795 ... mera-legal
Radio-controlled drones have revolutionized the video industry. But after the United States government's use of drone technology in Iraq and Afghanistan, drones are under a huge legal and ethical microscope.
What is a Drone?
Strictly speaking, "drone" used to be defined as an autonomous aircraft. Now, the word is used as slang for anything without a human pilot on board. This can include anything from your local hobby store’s cheapest radio-controlled aircraft to a Predator or Global Hawk. What the rest of us call a drone, the FAA refers to as an unmanned aerial system or UAS.
Radio-controlled helicopters have been a pipe dream of videographers for decades. But until recently, cameras have been too heavy, or the use of video tape was too prohibitive to make it practical. Helicopters either couldn’t get off the ground, or tapes would be degaussed by the electromagnetic fields put out by the motors.
With the use of tapeless media, and the stability of multi-rotor systems, it’s now practical to have a relatively low-cost platform to shoot video from. The first commercial multi-rotor system was known as the “Draganflyer” back in 1998. Compare that with the DJI Phantom’s modern guidance and cameras ... you have a very effective aerial system.
Drones have been used around the world for every purpose from inspecting oil pipelines and electrical lines, to surveillance, search and rescue, and even weapons delivery systems. Originally, even the Predator drone was designed to take pictures and replace the U-2 and the SR-71 spy planes. However, since the Predator has been outfitted with weapons delivery capabilities it has sparked protests, debates, and even hysteria over many types of drones.
So understandably, when the average person hears the word drone, they are filled with a feeling of uncertainty, and in some cases dread or fear.
Is it Legal to use a Drone to Shoot Video?
The short answer is both yes and no. There are many rules to flying an unmanned aerial system as presented by the Federation Aviation Administration. The most basic rules to follow (that should keep you safe, and the FAA off your case) are to keep your UAS in sight, never fly more than 400 feet above the ground (don’t fly within five miles of airports, and if you follow it everywhere, you’ll be pretty safe), never fly near people, and never fly where you can cause property damage. Basically, these are the same rules that you should follow when flying your standard hobby, electric, radio controlled aircraft.
You can fly any radio controlled aircraft with a camera on it. At least for now. There are currently 30 states attempting to outlaw radio-controlled aircraft with cameras on them. Where things really get dicey, is when flying a radio-controlled aircraft for commercial purposes (like shooting video).
According to Les Dorr (a spokesperson for the FAA out of Washington, D.C.) "…if you are taking video for your own personal use (including YouTube) and you're not going to do anything else with it, and you adhere to model aircraft guidelines, you're okay…" He continues, "…you cannot sell the video, and you cannot take money for shooting the video." Why? Because using unmanned aerial systems for commercial purposes is illegal.
So what about all of those drones that we saw at NAB last year? Well, in short they’re great for hobbyists. But you cannot (legally) make any money shooting video with a radio controlled aircraft. Again, at least for now.