According to a letter received by an amateur drone pilot earlier this week, the FAA may consider uploading your drone videos to YouTube “commercial use” if you are making money from them. The letter states the FAA received a complaint about the user’s videos, and they agree that he could be in violation.
Looking at Jayson’s YouTube page, he appears to have over 250 videos shot from a drone over the past two years. It’s not clear if his intent was to make money off these videos by posting them to YouTube, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Most of his videos have fewer than 1000 views, so it’s unclear why someone would target his channel.
This apparently wouldn’t be the first time his drones have gotten him in trouble, as the opening of one of his most recent videos (see below) shows him getting a warning several times from the police about not flying his quadcopter during the parade.
Expect to see some clarification in the days ahead about what is or isn’t OK in terms of monetizing your quadcopter footage with ad revenue online. Although the footage isn’t being directly sold to anyone, if you film with the intent to make money from ads, it’s possible you could be hit with a fine. This creates a grey area around “non-commercial” flight that begs for clarification.
We’ll keep following this story to see if any further updates emerge.