Drones in Legal Limbo Again - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Drones in Legal Limbo Again

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A new technology is taking flight. While drones are still in a gray area, a new fight has left the legality of commercial drones in limbo once again. A new technology is taking flight. While drones are still in a gray area, a new fight has left the legality of commercial drones in limbo once again.
WALLA WALLA, WA - A new technology is taking flight. While drones are still in a gray area, a new fight has left the legality of commercial drones in limbo once again.  

Even before a National Transportation Safety Board judge ruled that commercial drones are legal, photographers were already taking advantage of the new heights. While official rules aren't  expected until next year, the technology is only advancing and the number of users will likely only grow.

"There's going to be lots of these flying all over the place, so the sooner the FAA can make guidelines, that's great," said Jeremy Gonzalez, of Walla Walla. "I don't have a problem with having to get a license or something once that's available but right now there's nothing."

Gonzalez does video production for work. The Phantom quad-copter with a GoPro camera attachment is his new toy. He took it on a flight from a rooftop in downtown Walla Walla. At one point, the device flew right next to an apartment building. We asked what he thinks about privacy and drones.

"I'm very respectful of privacy. I would never use it for that purpose. Any other tool that you may have, even a regular camera, what's to stop someone with a regular camera from zooming in on a window," said Gonzalez.

Another issue is safety. But the new designs are often smaller, sleeker and lighter. Gonzalez' weighs just about five pounds.

Regardless of whether commercial use of drones is legal, entrepreneurs are finding ways around the laws (or lack thereof). 

"They're saying well we're not charging for the flights. We're charging for the editing and so obviously in that case, that's what they're getting paid for. Again, there'd be no reason to find loopholes and do this dance if the FAA would have been ahead of the curve," said Gonzalez.

It's estimated that in the first decade of widespread commercial drone us, the technology could make a $90 billion economic impact. The small aircraft can be used not only for photography but for agriculture, air deliveries or anything else you can think of from the sky.