A federal administrative court judge has determined that drones–aka unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs–can be used for commercial purposes because the Federal Aviation Administration has no regulations on the books that prohibit such uses.
Vice.com reported that the judge made the ruling last week in a case involving a photographer who had appealed a $10,000 fine for using a drone to shoot a video commercial, allegedly in violation of FAA rules.
The FAA immediately appealed, explaining in a statement that it “is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground.”
The FAA had fined photographer Raphael Pirker for unauthorized commercial use of a drone in 2011, after Pirker had used a remotely-controlled aircraft to produce a video commercial for the University of Virginia. Pirker had piloted the aircraft in the vicinity of the university, located in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Pirker, owner of UAV video production company Team Black Sheep, won his appeal of the fine on the grounds that a drone is in the same class of aircraft as model airplanes, which the FAA has never regulated. (The FAA has asked model airplane operators to fly the planes under 400 feet, and to stay away from airports, but those rules are strictly voluntary.)
The administrative court ruling means that photographers can use drones for commercial purposes, at least for now. But with the FAA opposed to unregulated use of drone aircraft in the US, it’s a safe bet that the agency will try to impose new administrative rules–or seek legislation–to restrict the use of drones in the near future.
Yes, it’s finally happened. A “photo community” is asking contributors to go ahead and give up all rights to their images, including for commercial use. Unsplash, which aggregates photos “gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers,” has written truly jaw-dropping Terms that encourage photographers to let anyone use their images for no... More ›
The NewsGuild of New York, the union representing The New York Times staffers, told members in a newsletter this morning that it will fight The Times’ proposed 20 percent reduction in photo desk staff via buyout. “As the Times makes changes to become a more ‘visually oriented’ news source, it is simply illogical to buy... More ›
By Rob Goodman When Tara Donne left her career as a magazine photo editor for a life as a professional photographer, she had stockpiled a good amount of knowledge just from working in the industry. But nothing truly prepares you for the leap into freelancing. You need a little faith and a clear game plan... More ›