If you follow DroneAbove or bought my book about starting an aerial photography business, you know my stance on the legality of flying RC stuff and charging for it - it is not technically illegal but be respectful, low key, and safe about how you do it. I just read the follow article from Politico about Trappy from Team BlackSheep fighting his $10,000 fine from the FAA using exactly the same logic that the lawyers and lobbyists I spoke too used. Basically there wasn't anything the FAA could do short of suing you in civil court (and most likely losing if you challenged it). This is all playing out exactly how it should and hopefully will speed up the adoption of aerial photography rules for drones that will officially recognize this budding business opportunity.
The DroneAbove prediction is that the case gets thrown out and Trappy (Raphael Pirker in the picture below) gets credit for opening the floodgates on professional aerial photography.
"Pirker has asked a judge with the National Transportation Safety Board to throw out the fine, and a decision is expected any day now. In the meantime, the case exposes what would seem to be a rather large loophole in the law: The FAA has been saying since 2007 that commercial drone use is not allowed, but the agency never went through the official rule-making channels to make it illegal. I asked an FAA spokesman at least five times whether flying a drone for profit is illegal and, after several attempts to follow up, was told that the agency was not prepared to answer that question."
As a result, the case against Pirker hinges not on whether he was operating a drone for commercial purposes but instead on whether the FAA can prove that he was flying in a “reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” In other words, the FAA needs to show that Pirker could have killed someone or seriously damaged a building with what is essentially a flying toy. If the agency fails and his fine is thrown out, the ruling could be taken as a sign to would-be commercial drone operators that the FAA lacks the authority to stop them—at least until it can issue an official rule, a process that typically takes more than a year."
What does this mean? Watch this case very closely and cheer if his fine gets thrown out because the precedent will be set. Until they either formally recognize aerial photography from an rc airplane, drone, quadcopter, multicopter, or other remotely operated vehicle or make a law or rule against it, you should fee fairly safe charging for aerial photography and video assuming you operate with respect for other peoples safety and property!
Now would be a wonderful to start your aerial photography business - the light is at the end of the tunnel.