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January 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Broadcast and print organizations have their eye on the sky — specifically small flying gadgets on which cameras can be mounted to present an overview of some local events. One such device was used last week by Seattle Spokesman-Review photographer Jesse Tinsley. Asked at the time whether permission from the FAA to employ such a device was required, Tinsley responded that it was “not illegal, but currently in a gray area.” On Monday, however, FAA spokesperson Les Dorr maintained that “there is no gray area.” In an interview with the Poynter journalism school in Florida, Dorr said that while such devices may be used by hobbyists, “if you’re using it for any sort of commercial purposes, including journalism, that’s not allowed.” Last August two journalism programs intended to teach students how to use the devices to cover events were halted by FAA cease-and-desist orders. Dorr acknowledged on Monday that the drones represent “an attractive technology for journalists.” However, he added, “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.”