| Tornado Chasers

FAA: Monetizing your drone videos is illegal


There is an article on Vice that states the FAA has come out to say that you can’t upload your video shot by drones to YouTube (at least with ads enabled). A hobbyist in Florida was served letters from FAA because he was uploading his videos to YouTube and making money off them.

What are your thoughts on these actions, do you feel this is overreaching and bad for the hobby? Storm chasers and weather enthusiasts have been utilizing drones lately and this seems like it would have a chilling effect and discourage people from uploading their drone footage.

There’s a good discussion about it over on Hacker News.


All of my money buying camera equipment for my drone has gone to waste. I was going to chase clouds with my drone, but no, the FAA says that I can’t make videos with monetization legally.


@TWS_Weather Did you already submit an inquiry? The article Seth provided made it seem like you have to follow certain regulations in order to monetize. I would want to find out what it would take to make it legal. If you have made an inquiry to the FAA, could you share the details here?


@TWS_Weather Not to worry! I did a little digging on the exemptions for your aircraft. You can find the info in the link below. Look for “section 333 exemptions”. I hope this eases your worries of wasting your money on cameras.


Believe it or not…as a rc pilot…its true…it is illegal to use drone footage and sell it.


I’m into RC ,and was planning on buying a drone to get some shots of storms and stuff, but the FAA and other legal disputes scared me out of it. And then the fact i can’t freely post the videos to YouTube, thats just so frustrating!


One aspect that would worry me would be how they actually going about policing this. There are scenarios where ads can run on your YouTube videos without you actually earning anything at all. For example if you add certain music to your video they will run ads on it and pay the copyright holder of the music a portion of the revenue while you the uploader don’t get anything in return nor did you even enable monetization. So issuing fines and letters simply based on the fact there are ads on the video is not even remotely a good idea, they would need to subpoena Google to find out whether the uploader actually earned revenue from it. I hope the 4th amendment would protect against blanket searches like that. This issue in general seems to have some 1st amendment ramifications as well.


Its quite amazing how one little item(internet) can change the constitution indefinitely.


what are drones… im having a brain fart today! :confused:


That’s what Google is for. :neutral_face:


There is also a great, comprehensive article by BuyTheBestDrone:


This is what is known as ‘mission creep’; the FedGov is out of line (as it always is.) NAS basically starts at any given airport and ends at all other surrounding airports–providing said airports pertain to interstate travel.

This aside, what exactly does allowing the use of drones, but just not for monetary gain, have to do with ensuring or maintaining air safety? And how is $10,000 not an excessive fine, rendering it unconstitutional? – Flying toy drones is generally outside of the FAA’ operational scope.

“Uncontrolled Airspace … Although ATC has no authority or responsibility to control air traffic, pilots should remember there are visual flight rules (VFR) minimums which apply to Class G airspace.”


Typical government overreach… I see NO HARM in making money off of drone videos… Why is it limited to drones and not ALL videos? This is just another grab for our tax dollars… Most storm chasers barely break even, if not operate at a perpetual loss. This is akin to the government raising taxes on cigarettes when 70+% of all smokers live below the poverty line. They’re stealing from the poor to help inflate their already bloated budgets… Sorry for the rant! Is it illegal to just make a PROFIT as opposed to all monies received? If that’s the case, there might be a loophole somewhere, but if it covers any money received, every drone operator is going to be SOL! :disappointed:


This is a little off the subject, but some incredible breakthroughs are being made in the technology for drones. Here’s a link to an article regarding a tiny, high performance gyroscope that will be built into some of them. My hope is that drones will be able to get closer to tornadoes, regardless of wind speeds, and provide more warning as video is downloaded from them (infrared, too).