Drone journalism is facing some legal issues. FAA spokesperson Les Dorr said on Monday that the soon-to-be-released drone regulations will directly affect journalists, barring them from doing any kind of surveillance in the name of the Fourth Estate. "There is no gray area," when it comes to flying unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial purposes, he said.
In November of last year, the New York Times weighed in heavily about the journalistic benefits of remote-operated drones. The article highlighted photographer Lewis Whyld, who launched a drone after Typhoon Haiyan and eventually aided in the identification of two bodies. Whyld explained: "The newspaper was for still images, but the Internet is for this."
Unmanned aerial vehicles are less intrusive, less expensive, and faster than helicopters in scenarios involving documenting wildlife, capturing natural disasters, and aerially viewing man-made inventions. People are (of course) allowed to be inside a helicopter with a camera, but shooting the same way with a remote controlled helicopter is somehow verboten?
"It’s an attractive technology for journalists, and people would like to be able to use it," Dorr said. "That said, the FAA is responsible for the safety of the air space. And as much as we’d like to encourage them, we can’t let them do it as long as there are no rules in place."
Reaction to the news on Twitter has been disparate. On the upside, I bet Lindsay Lohan is pretty excited that there won't be paparazzi drones hovering outside her window—for now.