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The FAA is coming after you if you publish drone videos to YouTube

If you’re posting drone videos to YouTube, the FAA might be coming after you.


If you’re a drone pilot and uploading your videos to YouTube, the FAA might have problem with you. It’s common knowledge at this point that its perfectly legal for the regular consumer to fly small drones for personal use, however, those same rules also state that drones can’t be flown for commercial use unless given a special license and permission from the FAA.

Now this is where things get a little tricky. According to the FAA, if you fly your drone around and publish the video you recorded flying onto YouTube; you could be violating one of the FAA regulations. Considering that YouTube shows ads on their platform, this pushes drone videos into the commercial use space and thus puts the people publishing these videos into a pretty sticky situation by putting these videos to “stricter regulations and enforcement action from the FAA” reports SlashGear.

This news recently came into light when Jason Haynes of Tampa, Florida, a drone pilot who regularly posts his arial videos to YouTube, received a letter from the FAA advising him that if he doesn’t stop uploading his videos to YouTube, he might be subject to some hefty fines and sanctions.

“With this letter the FAA is claiming that drone-obtained art created by a hobbyist becomes retroactively ‘commercial’ if it is ever sold, or if, as here, it is displayed on a website that offers monetization in the form of advertising,” Peter Sachs, a Connecticut-based attorney specializing in drone issues tells Vice’s Motherboard. “Selling art is unquestionably one’s right, and the government is forbidden from infringing upon that right.”

What does this mean for the thousands of people who post their drone videos to YouTube? At this point, it’s unclear. But one thing is clear, a lot of drone videos are being deleted this week.

Check out the full letter that was sent from the FAA to Jason Haynes regarding his videos on YouTube:

Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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