Artists, Say Goodbye to Your Drones

Drones are increasingly being used as an artistic medium. Photo: Animal New York.

Artists using drones as part of their creative process may only have months left to work with the unmanned flying vehicles. In the US, the current law permits the recreational use, but outlaws the commercial use of drones.

However, as the Art Newspaper first reported, under new proposed regulations that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is due to submit to congress in September, a government crackdown could be imminent. The FAA has already voiced safety concerns over the potential issues that the increasingly wide use of drones could have for commercial and military airspace.

The use of drones opens up vast possibilities for artists, (see Are Drones the Future of Art?). And for some artists, the drone crackdown could have serious consequences for their practices. For example, the graffiti artist Katsu has used drones with an attached spray can to tag hard-to-reach places. And as Arthur Holland, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, New York points out, “It’s possible to get a spectacular aerial shot with a $500 drone.” Fletcher Bach, a graduate student at New York University has observed “a particular rise in student projects using drones almost entirely for art purposes.” NYU hosted a conference on drones and aerial robotics in 2013.

Megan Ralstin, an attorney with Schlackman Intellectual Property Law highlights some of the irregularities in the current drone legislation. She says it “puts artists in a strange place,” due to the law’s opaque distinctions. “What if an artist experiments with drone photography purely for fun, and then later begins to sell the prints?” she asks.

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