Friday, October 10, 2014

TO DRONE OR NOT TO DRONE - Part III- So What Really Is "Commercial Use"?

So what really is “commercial use”?

Let’s begin with the FAA guidelines.  FAA recently released a document that included examples of what they considered “hobby” and “commercial” uses of drones.  Let’s look at these examples and see what light they may shed on the subject.

Example 1:  Flying a model aircraft at the local model aircraft club is “hobby”, but receiving money for demonstrating aerobatics with a model aircraft is “commercial”.  OK, but what about a “drone competition”, where everyone who enters has to pay a $20 entry fee and the winner gets a grand prize of $200.  Is the winner doing is “commercially”?  Is the group putting on the event “commercial” because they are taking money to have other people fly drones?  Is the result different if the winner gets a free drone as a prize?  What about a free weekend at a local resort?  Is this “commercial”?  What if a major resort sponsored the event and gave away a free weekend at their resort for the grand champion drone flyer, but made all contestants agree that the resort could use their footage they shot during the event.  Does that make the resort fall under “commercial use”?  

I just attended a drone conference in Las Vegas where each day the organizers drew names from a hat and the winner won a free drone.  The organizers didn’t fly any drones but clearly used the lure of a free drone to get attendees there.  What if the organizers had hosted a drone-flying exhibition as part of the conference, and gave away a free drone as part of a raffle, would the “drone-flying” part of the conference make it “commercial”?

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