Drone promotion

I’m pretty sure this has been covered before. But…
I’ve got a mate. He owns a business. A farmer. He has a website.
Can I do a video of his land, and he puts it on his website? I wont get paid. Well. Maybe a couple of pints. Will anyone get into trouble?

By my reckoning, this falls squarely into the grey area … but veering to the “commercial” side.

“He owns a business” + “He has a website” + (implied) “He asks you to take pics for his business website”.
This could be construed as there being a contract … even if the “fee” is “zero”.
If there’s a “contract”, then it’s commercial.

I also see the possibility that this can be seen as “this is mates for mates stuff” and not commercial.

Others may have differing opinions … but, for me, I think it’s grey enough that I’d not be willing to say it is, or isn’t, commercial.

If you were really wanting to be certain, then contacting the CAA would be the way to go. And if you do that, I’d also be very interested to see what they advise.

Edit: The CAA is also famous for pointing you at the legislation and not offering an opinion. Good luck.:+1:


I will contact the CAA and let you know.


A commercial operation is defined as:
‘flight by a small unmanned aircraft except a flight for public transport, or any operation of any other aircraft except an operation for public transport;

which is available to the public;
which, when not made available to the public,
in the case of a flight by a small unmanned aircraft, is performed under a contract between the SUA operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the remote pilot


in any other case, is performed under a contract between an operator and a customer, where the latter has no control over the operator,
in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration.’

The key elements in understanding this term are ‘…any flight by a small unmanned aircraft…in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration’.

From: https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Aircraft/Unmanned-aircraft/Small-drones/Regulations-relating-to-the-commercial-use-of-small-drones/

Karl then you would be carrying out commercial work, do you have a PfCO?

For what it’s worth from the CAA page .
If you take footage and he uses it to promote his site and you take no payment whatsoever ever . Then it’s fine .
I looked into this long and hard for my work vids .
Just as long as you make no financial gain and you have permmision then all should be good . He can use the footage for whatever reason he wishes …
This is just what i understand from the CAA …
So if you have permission from the land owner to fly and film and he sees the footage later then uses it for his site , NO PAYMENT MADE TO YOU . No couple pf pints for you …

I’ve posted on this before, elsewhere.
That definition is exactly how the PPL/CPL transition used to be defined … and they tried to press that I’d fallen foul of it on the “zero fee contract” basis that I mention in my earlier post.
I actually won the case … but not by killing that aspect off.
So - don’t be so certain.

I can understand that . But to my knowledge it is all about financial gain … If i have permission to fly from the land owner on private land and then post the vid , Following all the drone code , Then he sees it and uses it . Nothing exchanged , Money wise or other . Then all should be good . No contract between you or other party , Just the permission to fly …


That’s what everyone (other than the CAA) thought in my situation in 1988.
All I’m saying is that CAA didn’t interpret it in the same way. Not going to re-post further details - but my escape was that the flight wasn’t commenced whilst anticipating any commercial aspect.
Cost me a lot. near killed off my interest in PPL and, although I did fly some more, a totally dissociated bit CAA craziness (in relation to medicals) totally killed it off soon after.
350 hours of great flying fun all came to an end.
All because the CAA think they are far higher up the ladder than all the gods of any religions … and certainly anyone else’s interpretation of their own (rather fluffy) definitions.

Again, as posted ages ago somewhere, one thing about the CAA’s stance on “commercial” that my situation in 1988 did suggest, and ties into their belief that I was participating in a zero fee contract, was that they seemed less interested in the money side of things … per se, but the pressures on the pilot that a contract can cause … and perhaps result in not flying “by the book” to ensure that customer is kept happy.

30 odd years ago is a long time . Where drone around then ? . I was flying fast slope soarers off Castleton ridge in them days and helicopters were just a gimmick .

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No - obviously not - but from the definition above, remove drone terminology and replace it with plane … and the wording is nigh on identical. It’s as if they have just run a “find/replace” with a word processor.

Ok . I can relate to your statement … I am just reiterating what the CAA have on the web site , Regarding commercial and none commercial … I have never had a problem with this and my vids are freely available on you tube … I have flown plane and glider along with helicopter with camera attached and never had a problem in days gone by . How can the CAA go against the rules that are printed in black and white ? . I even contacted them regarding my flights . They said it was ok as long as nothing was taken as payment or good will …

But - what I’m saying is that the words my lawyer and I were fighting over read identically … if “un-dronified”.
When I saw the same for commercial drone flying, it was as if I was still sat in the CAA’s Queensway offices just yesterday.

I will just walk down the busy town centre and take pics with my camera . May even go into the market and take some . Just seen a cracking MOD building from the public foot path . Think i will take a couple of snaps …
Infact . I will just stand on the top of Lincoln caste and take some pics of the town fromm 200 feet up . Should be nice … Can’t make its up can you …

Again - as has been said elsewhere before - PfCO is not “a permission to take photos/videos, commercially, by drone”.

PfCO is a permission to operate a drone commercially … for any reason. Even if there’s not a camera on it.

But, because the vast majority of drone flights (commercial or hobbyist) are for taking photos/videos, everyone gets hung up on just that aspect.

As anyone that has a PfCO can tell you, their permit doesn’t once mention camera, photo or video. :wink: (OK - it will mention “cameras” in relation to “collection of images of identifiable individuals” and GDPR.)

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irrelevant i would say …

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So we are torn between a hard rock and a stone …

The answer is emphatically yes, this is commercial - because you’ve said “maybe a couple of pints”.

Will anyone get into trouble? No. So long as the pints aren’t mentioned and so long as the video/pictures aren’t “sold on”.

Someone mentioned “mates for mates stuff” - that’s only true if a “business” isn’t involved. And, clearly, a business IS involved.

CAA have been known to look at “aerial pictures for sale” and traced who took them. Wasn’t difficult as the bloke put his name on them!

So, no names, no pints, no payment, no “valuable consideration” and you’ll be absolutely fine. The farmer wont be in any trouble either way.

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Please could you expand on this reasoning?