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Drones these days are popping up everywhere. They are a common sight and in 2020, more than 7 million drones are expected to fly at one point in time in the United States alone.
This increase in the number of drones flying every day for recreational or commercial purposes means that more and more of these drone operators are untrained. They do not have the proper professional background and are unaware of many laws from different agencies and departments of the government like The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that regulate the flying of drones.
If you are new to drones or flying one then it is your responsibility to know what you can and can’t do with your drone while you are flying it.
One question that commonly comes up with new drone users is whether they can post their drone footage to Facebook, YouTube, or other social media platforms.
You can definitely post your drone videos and photographs on Facebook and other social media websites across the internet but if you are flying your drone commercially you are supposed to get a drone pilot’s license.
If you are just a hobbyist and using your drone for only recreational purposes and you decide to post drone footage or photographs on social media websites, you can quickly enter a grey area.
Posting on Facebook will probably not make your drone usage be considered commercial since you likely won’t make any money on it but if you upload the video to Youtube and collect money from ads then you will likely be labeled as a commercial drone operator and should have a license from the FAA.
The FAA has been clear in that you need a license when flying commercially but what constitutes as flying commercially is a little more murky. For example let’s say that I take some drone footage of a storm from my backyard and post it on YouTube for my friends to see. Does this count as using my drone for commercial purposes?
In some people’s mind the answer is yes but if my video doesn’t have ads and I don’t make any money from it then knowing whether it counts as commercial use is much harder to determine.
Many people believe that posting drone videos or photographs on social media websites like Facebook and YouTube constitutes commercial use of the technology and is subject to stricter regulations and enforcement actions from The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Ultimately whether this is true for every video posted or only those that you make money on is something that will probably be decided on sooner rather than later.
As it stands now you can certainly post your personal footage to Facebook without having a commercial license but if you are worried about it you can set your privacy setting to where only your friends or friends of friends can see it which in turn would certainly remove the using it commercially intent as only a limited number of people could ever view the footage.
There are also other regulations which affect the flying of commercial drones like prohibiting them from flying above 500 feet and to not fly over people. If you do not adhere to all the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding the flying of drones you could be fined but often the FAA will send you a warning or require you to take an education class.
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Is Your Drone Registered?
If you fly an unregistered drone here in the United States, you can possibly be fined up to $27,500 and also face prison terms of at least 3 months. So be careful that the drone you are flying is legally registered.
Even if you don’t think you need to have a commercial license for flying your drone you are still required to register the drone itself with the FAA.
You can register your drone by just paying $5 in registration fees and filling out the forms online. The registration is valid for three years so you only have to pay an additional $5 once every three years as well.
Different countries have different regulations and laws regarding the flying of a drone, you should always check those with the proper authorities of the particular country where you are going to fly your drone to avoid unnecessary situations.
Things to consider before posting drone videos to Social Media
Although most of us are aware of such terms and conditions, we often do not actually know what they contain as most people do not take the time to read those agreements and accept them blindly in faith. This is because these terms and conditions of different social media platforms are very lengthy and boring and could easily take hours if not days if you want to read every word and understand their legal interpretations.
Some of these terms and conditions that we unknowingly agree to when we post photographs or videos on different social media give these social media websites the legal right to do a lot of things with our drone videos or photographs. For example, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter give royalty-free, sub-license to other users of their platform to share and modify our videos and photographs without the need to take additional permission from us or the need to pay us for our work.
So you should consider all these things before posting your drone videos or photographs on social media websites.
Selling Drone Photos or Videos
Different countries have different regulations regarding the selling of photographs and videos taken by a drone. Regulations in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada are such that if you are using your drone for recreational purposes and flying it as a hobby and then you start selling your drone photographs or videos, then your drone will be marked as a commercial drone which has been used for a commercial purpose.
This will effectively bring your drone under a whole new set of regulations which if you do not want to get into and would like to avoid then you should not sell your drone photographs or videos. But if you have the intention to sell your drone photographs and videos and you are flying your drone for commercial purposes then you have nothing to worry about, given that you are following all the associated regulations and laws regarding flying a drone commercially.
In the USA there are additional courses and fees that you must pay to get a commercial drone license which will allow you to see the drone footage and photos while still being on the right side of the law.
For more information about getting a commercial drone license you can visit the FAA website.
Whatever you end up doing with your drone, try to make sure that you are not breaking any existing laws or regulations relating to the flying of drones and their use. You should also try to take all necessary safety precautions and follow guidelines from The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well so that you do not harm any person, object or the environment while you enjoy flying your drone.