We are often asked by people looking to make money from their drone business if they need a Part 107 license to capitalize on their Youtube drone videos. The FAA, after all, determined last year that anyone seeking to make money flying drones would be required to pass the Part 107 certification test in order to be granted the right to do so. At the same time, the FAA also determined that any drone pilot flying simply for fun would be required to obtain a Part 101 license.
So, while the obvious answer is “Yes, you do need a Part 107 to make money off of your drone videos,” the FAA has slippery definitions as to when exactly you start the process of earning profit. In a career like ours, where we’re constantly having fun making videos, the difference between work and leisure is hard to define.
The bill, to be more specific, rules that you are required to obtain a Part 107 if you’ll be producing drone footage that “furthers your business”. This, of course, does not necessarily mean that you have to earn direct profit from a video in order for it to benefit you. If a drone video drives traffic toward your website, for example, it is very much “furthering your business”. If the video is shared on Facebook and leads to potential customers contacting you, it is also “furthering your business”.
For this reason, you would want to have your Part 107, even if your drone footage wasn’t being monetized directly. Even if you weren’t looking to start a drone business at all, you’d want to get your Part 107 in case you ever had the opportunity to make money flying drones. If you’re on YouTube and you think you may want to monetize your channel at some point in the future, for example, you shouldn’t be flying without a Part 107. The only time you wouldn’t need to have your Part 107 license is in the case that you never plan on or desire to sell your drone footage for any purpose.
We seriously recommend not risking the severe fines you’ll face if caught flying without proper licensure. It’s irresponsible. A tiny bit of studying and forking over $150 to the FAA will not only provide you with the ability to fly legally, it will educate you on a number of important topics. The more information you have about legalities, the better pilot you’re going to be. You’ll limit liability, reduce risk and elevate your flying experience in the process.