At this year's Consumer Electronic Show, the Executive Director of the FAA's UAS Integration Office was asked if the phrase "...and within the programming" in the Special Rule for Model Aircraft requires membership in a Community Based Organization (CBO - like the Academy of Model Aeronautics).
His answer was long, and he waffled a little, but he closed with this clear statement: "But in general, no, you do not have to be a member of a specific organization in order to be operating under their safety guidelines (emphasis added)."
You can hear it for yourself, go to 56:45: http://videos.ces.tech/detail/videos/innovation-policy/video/570756...
The FAA authorization bill goes to conference soon, and the AMA is pushing the House version which adds additional language that not only will establish them as the defacto CBO in the US, but will make it more difficult for FAA to not require membership. If you don't want to pay AMA $35 to $75 a year for membership, I encourage you to contact your Congressman and Senator and ask for a simple change to the final bill .. remove the "...and within the programming" phrase.