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FAA: Don’t post drone videos on YouTube

Drone hobbyist Jayson Hanes received a warning letter from the FAA, saying his videos posted on YouTube are commercial.

WASHINGTON — Posting drone footage on YouTube apparently runs afoul of the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules against commercial use of drones.

A Tampa-based drone hobbyist, Jayson Hanes, recently received a letter from the FAA, warning he could be subject to fines or sanctions if he doesn’t stop flying “commercially,” according to a report in Motherboard.

“This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing Youtube.com as evidence,” read the letter to Hanes from FAA aviation safety inspector Michael Singleton. “After a review of your website, it does appear that the complaint is valid.”

The FAA is in the process of creating regulations for the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The current proposal would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations.

However, the FAA differentiates model aircraft operated only for hobby or recreational purposes from commercial drone operation.

While the FAA has previously sent cease and desist letters to commercial drone operators that advertise drone-for-hire, the letter to Hanes appears to be a first.

The FAA said that because there are ads on YouTube, Hanes’ flights constituted a commercial use.

Hanes told Motherboard that while his videos are technically “monetized” on YouTube, he has never received a payment from Google and the revenue he’s earned from Google ads is less than a dollar.

The FAA says it is looking into the matter.

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