Non commercial shots for publication, website

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If not prohibited by an organizations own rules, can photos/video taken by non-commercial pilot still be used by an organization for publication on website, print or promotion?  

Recently I did some "verbal permission acquired" footage of a mission project that this non-profit could use in a number of applications.  The CEO was ecstatic with the shots and passed them on to marketing.  The marketing person also loved the shots but asked for a copy of "my FAA license" which, as a hobbyist, I don't have.

How do I respond to this?  

Drones are registered.  AMA member.  

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Technically speaking according to the FAA if you provide media to an organization that uses it for any type of promotion then they consider that a commercial activity requiring a waiver or part 107.  That would be the letter of the law. 

However, if you were not paid, a couple of things to keep in mind, some common sense, some poilitical and some, i don’t know - just some more...

its against the law for the FAA to regulate commerce.  It’s not part of what they do and by doing so they open themselves up to “pay-for-play” legislation.  This is partly why part 107 was so controversial when it was introduced and probably a big reason that the FAA lost all of the 333 exemptions law suites. 

Most don’t like taking on city hall.  A caveat or excuse is that you love flying and are an avid photographer therebye you did this as a bobbysists and did this for the “love” of your evocation.  Someone really liked your work and you shared it with them.  You have  no control of what someone does with it once you give it to them.  

Both are pretty thin.  If you got paid for the gig, even if you didn’t, they’re trying to establish a paper trail to provide proof the imagery was collected legally.  Its a cover your butt move.  Tell them the truth, you don’t have a 107.  They’ll either decide to use it or not.  If you want them to use it, do you know someone with a 107?  It’s a plausible deniability issue.  The 107 wasn’t required to be at the controls and there’s no real way to prove they weren’t present when you did the work.  

If they paid you for the media and you don’t have a 107 then stop it.  You broke the law, go get your 107.  

If you did this on your own and they like what you did then your in the clear but their concern is they purchased the media illegally and don’t want to spend hard earned non profit money with a lawyer defending themselves from the FAA.  

If it were me, I’d just ask for the media back, thank them for the love and move on.  If you want others to see your work get your 107.  It comes down to how risk averse they are depending on how big they are and how visible they are.  Large non-profits have all the same middle management and  behave the same as any other Corp, they just think their better..  


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I have only recently been asked by real estate agents, for whom I am taking aerial photos, if I am licensed (I am).  I am also being asked for my sUAS certificate number and the FAA registration number of the drone I will be using.

I have no problem with the inquiries.  In fact, I appreciate them as it guarantees that hobbyists will not be infringing on my business.


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I am not disputing what AV8Chuck said, however;  a non-profit will not garner enough attention to create a stir in regards to your footage.  The adverse impact on any challenge to non-profits is enough to dissuade most government entities from prosecuting.  

More to the point, use the earnings to go get your FAA 107.  Money well spent. 

Lastly, they can use the footage now, and compensate you later.  You should trust them, they trusted an unlicensed pilot.  ;)

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24 minutes ago, teamplayer said:

a non-profit will not garner enough attention to create a stir in regards to your footage.  The adverse impact on any challenge to non-profits is enough to dissuade most government entities from prosecutin

Depends on the non-profit.  Generally by their nature non-profits don’t like negative anything so they pay attention to detail.  It doesn’t surprise me at all that a non-profit want to validate the supply chain.  


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Your conflating the issue of compliance and law enforcement.  Name one non-profit that doesn’t take the issue of compliance very seriously?  It’s their adherence to their compliance that gives them their tax exempt status, the larger the non-profit the stricter the policies. 

I’m not talking about a bunch of millennials counting straws on the beach that put a .org on their web address.  I have flown for US non profits in Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Singapore and they all asked for any permits and certificates to validate the supply chain of imagery.  

Color me crazy, but that’s why the OP was asked for his/her credentials.  It has little to do with the FAA and they couldn’t care less about the videographer.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

According to this guy it might be considered "infurtherance of business" and the fine for you could be $1,100.00 while the fine for the organization that uses it could be $11,000.00. It seems as though they have an intelligent person in the marketing dept. If I were them I would have not even requested the work or condoned it unless the operator also proved they most importantly had a workers compensation plan or waiver. Most people will ignorantly consent to work without regards to the enormous liability that they have assumed. Being held liable for lost wages and medical bills is far more costly then that little fine. I'm not trying to judge you or anyone else here, in fact this is just good to know while you try to grow your own small businesses. If you hire a friend for the day and they get really hurt while helping you, although they personally may not seek restitution several government agencies might eventually come knocking on your door figuring out who is going to foot the bill, 0oP$! My biggest contracts in business generally want all that good stuff right up front or it is a no go. I personally do the same in good trust to protect not only myself but the clients I work for. It is a shame how many qualified and talented people I have to pass on because of legalities, I even offer to help with others administrations and startup needs but quite often they just do not want to take any personal or professional responsibility.


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