The FAA has begun going after RC flight videos on Youtube displaying onboard digital camera footage. Jayson Hanes has recently got a notification ordering him to stop his “unauthorized commercial flights”. Failure to take action may end in fines as much as USD $10.000,-
This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the website youtube.com as evidence. After a review of your website, it does appear that the complaint is valid.
Hanes insists that whereas his videos on Youtube are technically monetized, he has not got a payment from Google yet.
This does increase all kinds of vital questions: When precisely does a flight turn into “commercial” in nature. It’s even worse in nations like Austria, where the regulation states that as soon as the intent of flight goes past the “mere flight itself” (i.e. you fly since you need to photograph a sunset from the air), you’re not an RC hobbyist anymore but must register and pay for your vehicle as a UAV.
That the FAA wouldn’t be going after Youtube videos was an assumption that’s nonetheless maintained by a lot of fans. As soon as established, it will be very tough to reverse such a legal interpretation.