Incredibly lucky new Phantom owner

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Some of the details in this story have deliberately been withheld to shield his identity.

About 6 weeks ago I visited a relative. I brought my P3S which I flew around his house for a few minutes, but it was too windy that day to do any real flying. It was enough enough for him, though, so he excitedly bought a P3A through Amazon. A couple of weeks later, the drone developed some problem, but the vendor offered an exchange. He returned the P3A and it was exchanged for a brand new P4!

So, he starts flying his P4 around, and happens to see a very unusual natural phenomenon, which he flew over and recorded. He shared a still image with the local papers, which printed it. A major cable network sees the photo, contacts him, and offers to buy the video for $1,000. He tried asking for $5,000, but his luck didn't extend that far. Now he has a P4 and a net cash profit of over $300. He should use the extra money to buy lottery tickets!
 
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Or maybe use it toward the $150 fee for a Part 107 commercial drone exam. Or maybe toward the major fine the FAA could impose if they find out he was using the drone for commercial purposes without a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (assuming he doesn't have one). Good luck to him.
 
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Thing is, the commercial rule only applies if you record video with the intention of selling it. If you happen to sell the footage afterwords not having flown with the intention of selling the footage it is permissible.
 
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That was my first thought, and is why I obscured the details. On the other hand, he made that flight and recording purely for personal reasons, and had no intent to commercialize it later. IIRC, the FAA no longer chases down drone pilots for posting videos on YouTube where they might earn ad revenue.
 
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Thing is, the commercial rule only applies if you record video with the intention of selling it. If you happen to sell the footage afterwords not having flown with the intention of selling the footage it is permissible.
That is not true.
 
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That was my first thought, and is why I obscured the details. On the other hand, he made that flight and recording purely for personal reasons, and had no intent to commercialize it later. IIRC, the FAA no longer chases down drone pilots for posting videos on YouTube where they might earn ad revenue.
That IS true - they aren't chasing pilots down based on videos alone - there must be more evidence.
 
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I don't know if the flight violated the FAA rules or not, but I'd be pretty confident that the likelihood that the FAA would care enough to investigate is extremely low.
 
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There are lots of opinions thrown around on this site, many with no facts cited. Here are some facts that show that the FAA is taking even mild violations very seriously. Minnesota Man Faces $55K in Fines After Flying Drone
If you're flying commercially without Part 107 you are risking a lot. I did recently read that the FAA is no longer scouring youtube looking for unauthorized flyers, though. I['m looking for the source.
 
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This is a murky issue but does fall into the commercial realm. He should use $150 to take the 107 test. That way any video he records may be sold without the long FAA arm smacking his face.
Fact:
The FAA DOES keep the public safe by enforcing aircraft safety rules.
The FAA DOES over reach by not allowing small time drone pilots from making a buck on the fly.
The FAA DOES have the ability to make problems for small time pilots.
 
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I seem to remember people posting statements that indicated the intent of the flight is the classification of the flight. Do it for a hobby and you are hobby...

I am not a lawyer and frankly I doubt people that are bemoaning that it is a commercial flight are lawyers either.
 
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Flyboy73 that is the most ridiculous response to a post ever.. Like really????

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Not a ridiculous response at all... The guy was compensated for an aerial flight - This is spelled out loud and clear by the FAA. If he even looked into FAA part 107 he would already know the answer to his own questions.
 

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Not a ridiculous response at all... The guy was compensated for an aerial flight - This is spelled out loud and clear by the FAA. If he even looked into FAA part 107 he would already know the answer to his own questions.
There are lots of opinions thrown around on this site, many with no facts cited.
That's for sure.
Whenever this sort of thing crops up there are always plenty that want to be hardline and denounce a flyer for selling a photo.
This is a murky issue but does fall into the commercial realm.
Or maybe toward the major fine the FAA could impose if they find out he was using the drone for commercial purposes without a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate
The FAA is concerned with commercial flying - not selling the odd photo.
At the time of the flight, it was legal recreational flying.
Selling a photo this week from a flight made legally last week doesn't retrospectively make a past flight illegal.
If you look at what actions the FAA has taken, you see that they are concerned with dangerous flying and not very concerned with selling photos.
This article shows all drone flyers fined by the FAA as of a few months back.
The FAA Gave Us a List of Every Drone Pilot Who Has Ever Been Fined
Despite there being no shortage of unlicensed flyers who have sold photos, I don't see anyone on that list for selling photos.
That was my first thought, and is why I obscured the details. On the other hand, he made that flight and recording purely for personal reasons, and had no intent to commercialize it later. IIRC, the FAA no longer chases down drone pilots for posting videos on YouTube where they might earn ad revenue.
In the interests of providing something with more authority than a couple of forum lawyer's opinions, I offer this FAA document prepared by an FAA lawyer expressing a legal opinion on exactly what is being discussed here:
FAA Memo on Media Use of FAA
To cut to the chase, here's the relevant part:

Now if anyone wants to discuss this further, you understand the FAA's opinion and don't have to guess what it is.

The FAA's core business is air safety, they are not there to decide who can and can't sell photos.
I say he's a lucky drone flyer and good luck to him.
Prohibiting him from selling a good image taken in the past would do absolutely nothing to improve air safety.
 
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Thats what I saw awhile ago and based my primary response to it. Intentions at the time dictate the outcome.
 
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I seem to remember people posting statements that indicated the intent of the flight is the classification of the flight. Do it for a hobby and you are hobby...

I am not a lawyer and frankly I doubt people that are bemoaning that it is a commercial flight are lawyers either.
The FAA is quite clear that intent is meaningless here. Was there any kind of pecuniary benefit involved? It's commercial. And if you're a professional photographer who runs a drone you're basically de-facto a commercial operator.
 
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Or maybe use it toward the $150 fee for a Part 107 commercial drone exam. Or maybe toward the major fine the FAA could impose if they find out he was using the drone for commercial purposes without a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (assuming he doesn't have one). Good luck to him.
Maybe you could change your screen name to "Mywholelifeisaremotetoy"
 
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The FAA is quite clear that intent is meaningless here. Was there any kind of pecuniary benefit involved? It's commercial. And if you're a professional photographer who runs a drone you're basically de-facto a commercial operator.
Meta4's response showing the FAA memo directly from the mouth of the lion clearly shows this particular example as being legal
 
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Technically, your friend sold his video "in furtherance of a business" (FAA's terms, not mine). It doesn't have to be his business, but it was the cable network's business. Even if he gave the video for free to the network, he helped further a business. Therefore, that flight and video are considered commercial.
 
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The FAA is quite clear that intent is meaningless here. Was there any kind of pecuniary benefit involved? It's commercial. And if you're a professional photographer who runs a drone you're basically de-facto a commercial operator.
The memo above would seem to disagree with your statement. Intent is indeed mentioned and is important in the decision.

I am not a lawyer and would suggest it best to consult one if in doubt.
 
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