Define "commercial"

I only ever fly as a hobbyist and none of my flights have ever been for a commercial purpose or benefit. However, I’ve been approached about buying one of my videos. Could I sell it as the flight was never intended to be commercial when it was made?


This thread may help.


Yes :slight_smile:


As per that link Callum posted (IIRC) it’s all about the actual time of flight. If there was an anticipation of reward to be gained from the flight, you MUST PfCO.
Totally unexpected/unpredictable reward for something that was (at that time) totally for fun as a hobbyist can be sold … if someone approaches you to buy.
Very grey areas come into effect when people earn anything from the likes of blogging and YouTube … with associated “advertising”, etc … the “are you anticipating posting/earning” becomes difficult to disprove, etc.


Thanks all. Looks positive then. I’ll keep you posted



BBC2, 9pm on February 28th. It’ll just be a few seconds as part of setting the scene. It’s a documentary about Parkinsons of all things but apparently a patient on a trial lives near me and I’ve got some aerial footage of the village.


Great job!

We have a very rare badge for such occasions, only one person holds it currently!

Keep us posted Lee :smiley:


I think the answer to your question is NO, i think you can give it away, but any reward for drone stills or footage needs to have a PfCO in place.

You’ve already said you fly as a hobbyist so therefore you can’t expect a commercial payment. If you want a commercial payment then you need to hold a PfCO.

Sorry don’t mean to sound like the drone police or anything but you need to safe guard yourself too

I’m sorry, but you are incorrect.

The CAA control flying, not filming or photography.

It is the flight, itself, that requires you to have PfCO … if, at that time, there is a view to, or an intention/anticipation of, financial/commercial gain.

A flight that was undertaken without this, as a hobbyist, cannot be retrospectively reclassified as commercial.

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Thanks for your reply, it is a very grey area.
I was lead to believe if you accepted any reward for photos or videos from any drone flight then it was classed as commercial no matter when it took place.

Not being flippant now but could we say all our flights are as a hobbyist and sell the footage after hence no pfco required if the intention wasn’t there at the start?

If you are established as a commercial aerial photographer, that would be impossible.

If you are doing so with any regularity, there is every reason to believe that you were anticipating some reward each time you commenced a flight.

If you have a website with aerial photos you’ve taken that has any suggestion of selling them, you’d be hard pressed to claim that any flight had no intent for reward.

A slightly grey area is should you commence a flight strictly as a hobbyist and then something happens (house fire, etc) and you divert to photo/film it with the “Oh - might be able to sell this!” mindset.
Chances are you’ll be in more poo from interfering with fire/police services activity. (There was a case of this a couple of years ago in the UK.)
Even in this situation, strict interpretation says the flight was “undertaken” as a hobbyist, and cannot be modified mid-flight.
This is just chance so these shots cannot have been anticipated - unless you had someone set fire to the house - when lack of PfCO would be the least of your worries.

I know, because I checked, if you fly (fixed wing, in my case) to take photos of properties and then try and sell them to the owners, you are in the poo. (More complicated in my case, since my passenger was the commercial photographer - but the CAA said no - even though I was to get nothing.)

The really big grey area is the likes of YouTube if your account earns you money, and personal blogs with advertising.
Afaik - neither the how much you’d need to be earning from YT/advertising, or the proportion/regularity of aerial content has been tested in the UK.

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this is where it gets tricky. How many times can dumb luck play a part before you’re considered to be earning? The footage I’ve sold has been up on YouTube for a few months (no adverts) and on my facebook so I’ve put it out there for free.

Thanks for your replies, much appreciated

Thank you :blush:

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