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Drone Camera Tornado Coverage Raises Press Freedom Questions 143

Posted by timothy
from the you-may-only-look-toward-the-horizon dept.
retroworks (652802) writes "In the latest tornado and storm tragedy to hit the U.S.'s south and midwest, small drone cameras steered by storm-tracker and videographer Brian Emfinger gathered stunning bird's-eye footage of the wreckage. Forbes magazine covers the [paywalled] Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's speculation that Emfinger has violated FAA rules which prohibit commercial use of small drones. The laws, designed years ago to restrict hobbyists use of model airplanes, may conflict with U.S. First Amendment free press use. So far, nothing in the article says that the FAA is enforcing the rule on the media outlets that may pay Emfinger for his video coverage, but interest in the footage will probably create a business economy for future commercial drone use if the FAA does not act."
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Drone Camera Tornado Coverage Raises Press Freedom Questions

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  • It is not illegal (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @10:34AM (#46888823)

    A judge invalidated the law not too long ago so there is no legal issue. http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/6/5479582/judge-rules-commercial-drones-are-legal-undoing-six-year-ban

  • Re:Bunk (Score:4, Informative)

    by synapse7 (1075571) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @10:40AM (#46888861)

    Looks like the FAA appealed the decision on March 7th.

    http://www.faa.gov/news/press_... [faa.gov]

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @11:10AM (#46889143)

    Take this one step further: it's only a matter of time before drones will be used by terrorists...

    The future of drones doesn't look bright.

  • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @11:45AM (#46889455)

    No.

    The rules are (short version of legalese)

    Fly by line of sight. (They get too small to fly more than a mile away)
    Stay below 400 feet AGL ... ABSOLUTE GROUND LEVEL, the distance between the aircraft and the ground below it must be less than 400 feet, not operator level.
    No commercial use (this was added in 2007 to prevent a maelstrom of idiots with RC planes doing shit for money, and is the main arguing point right now)
    Do not fly within X number of feet of buildings or Y number of feet of people. I forget the specifics of X and Y right now.
    Do not fly within 5 miles of an active airport or helipad, where active is defined as shows up on sectional charts as 'open', regardless of the actual usage of the airport or its size.

    and a bunch of other more obscure and less likely to apply rules.

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