IRIS+ for Commercial Use...

I keep reading everywhere that using drones for commercial use is illegal without the FAA exemptions. But I cannot seem to find an answer to my single question;

Why are there so many websites of companies offering photography and aerial services using drones? Google it. What is the loophole that is allowing them to do so?

If this has been addressed somewhere please let me know because I am not finding it. I would like to get paid to take some aerial photos, but something is not adding up...

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  • I believe they really have no grounds to tell you how to make money. If you are flying safely and under the current hobbyist guidelines, with permission of those being filmed, they really can't win in court. It's not illegal to fly a drone and it's not illegal to film and edit as a business. The rules will be worked out in our benefit soon. The real fight is line-of-sight and delivery of goods. In this scenario you are flying over everyone. My drone crashes sometimes and it's an Iris+. Imagine 100's of these in your neighborhood, daily. There will be crashes, shootdowns, stolen packages, etc... Unless they make a bulletproof UAV with redundant systems, they will litter the landscape. 

  • Matt, a lot of these companies are doing the aerial photography for "free" and then charge for the editing of the photos/footage.  They then say that the acquisition of the aerials photos is non-commercial because they aren't charging for it.  However, this is a fairly weak argument and I believe the FAA has issued several cease and desist letters warning these businesses to stop what they are doing.  They have yet to fine anyone yet though (other than Trappy but that was for reckless endangerment or something like that).  The FAA has stated that commercial use is illegal, but I don't believe it has been held up in court yet.  If you haven't seen though, the FAA did just release proposed guidelines for commercial use of drones.  Not sure how long it will take to go from proposed to law, but I don't assume it will be sooner than a year out.

    • I heard about their proposed rule, I read the transcript from the call this Sunday here:

      One response when asked by a reporter how long until the proposed rule is final:

      "GAO estimated 2-3 years because of the requirements of the rulemaking process and expected large number of comments."

      You did answer my question though about how they are doing it now. I feel that is a very weak argument but it must be working because I found no less than 50 companies offering aerial photography services in my google search. I also noticed all those production companies that recently got FAA exemptions show on their website that they have been doing this for years already, I wonder if they used that same argument before becoming legal just last month?

      FAA Transcript
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