Interesting, but I'm wondering what legal arrangement he's using to fly under?
"operated by a high powered remote"
"The Iris Flyer is operated by a pilot and a co-pilot."
They're just sending up a quad to take some pics from the air. Nothing illegal about that.
He's a private fire investigator and using this commercially. But commercial use is only against the FAA guidelines, nobody's ever been actually fined for doing this. A couple people have been warned and decided to shut down their operations, at least that's what they've told the news they're doing.
I don't see how you can really get into trouble for this, unless you're a dumbass and have a news story done on you where you admit to using your "RC toy aircraft" for commercial purposes.
You can legally advertise "aerial photos" since there's plenty of legal ways to get them. And if you have permission to be on the land you can always say you're just flying for fun. It would be very hard to make a case against you. They'd have to catch you in the act, then somehow prove the photos you sold actually came from the instance where they caught you. Basically to have an open-and-shut case they'd have to catch you, download your photos, and then you'd actually have to sell those same photos to somebody. Otherwise they'd just have a circumstantial case, which can be won but is much more difficult and probably wouldn't be worth the effort.
Sells aerial photos + flys RC aircraft != automatic guilt
The news story guy's lawyer really needs to bitch slap his client.
The federal government has an expedited process for obtaining a COA (certificates of airworthiness) during disasters. A COA will have certain negotiated terms that will allow someone to operate the vehicle in ways that they wouldn't typically be allowed to.