The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced policy addressing issues concerning the use of unmanned aircraft systems for newsgathering.

The FAA reiterated that media outlets currently cannot use drone aircraft for newsgathering without an exemption from federal aviation officials.

The policy does allow for using images obtained by a drone during research at a FAA test site or alternative location used for research as long as the flight is authorized.

The FAA will not regulate the use of content acquired during drone flights, allowing news media to acquire pictures, video or other information obtained from a drone operated by a person not affiliated with that media organization.

The FAA instead will focus oversight on the operator and operation of a drone.

If an individual takes pictures or videos or gathers information as part of a hobby activity and then later decides to sell the footage or information, it would not alter the character of the operation as being recreational; no FAA authorization would be required.

Those using drones with the intention of obtaining pictures, video or information to sell to a third party would be considered a commercial operation requiring FAA authorization.

The FAA’s decision to limit oversight to drone operations as opposed to content gives media outlets flexibility in using footage from freelancers.

The drone operator, not the media organization, would assume the risk.

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