More than 1 million small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) (also known as "Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or "drones") have been sold during the 2015 holiday season. Most of these commercially available UAVs weigh less than seven pounds and have built-in cameras that allow their operators to take high-definition aerial photographs and videos. The most popular models sell for less than $1,000, and starter UAVs can be purchased for just a few hundred dollars. Given the growing popularity of UAVs, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has adopted or proposed regulations that ensure the safety of U.S. airspace. Unfortunately, in doing so, the agency has crafted a regulatory scheme that distinguishes between commercial and non-commercial UAV operators in a way that may run afoul of the U.S. Constitution and chill newsgathering activities.
The impact of UAVs can be seen across multiple industries, including the domestic real estate, energy, and insurance markets. However, the anticipated ubiquity of UAVs may have the greatest consequence on the gathering and dissemination of news by both traditional media organizations and unaffiliated citizen journalists. In much the same way that advances in mobile technology have decreased the cost of newsgathering by arming every citizen and reporter with a pocket camera, and social media platforms and inexpensive webhosting have provided a venue for anyone to publish newsworthy content, UAVs further democratize newsgathering by providing a low-cost and more versatile alternative to the traditional piloted news helicopter.
Read the article: FAA Treats “Commercial” Newsgatherers and Citizen Journalists Differently
©2018 Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A. Carlton Fields practices law in California through Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, LLP. Carlton Fields publications should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information and educational purposes only, and should not be relied on as if it were advice about a particular fact situation. The distribution of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Carlton Fields. This publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request reprint permission for any of our publications, please use our Contact Us form via the link below. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. This site may contain hypertext links to information created and maintained by other entities. Carlton Fields does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this outside information, nor is the inclusion of a link to be intended as an endorsement of those outside sites.