Using Drones in the News and Entertainment Industries: The Legal and Regulatory Issues

drone hollywood style

Using Drones in the News and Entertainment Industries: The Legal and Regulatory Issues

Friday, February 7, 2014
Southwestern Campus

Brochure (PDF)

This groundbreaking event will focus on the legal and regulatory themes involved in the use of commercial drones (technically, remotely piloted aircraft systems or RPAS) for the purposes of news-gathering, media, advertising, and entertainment production.

Internationally recognized speakers and panelists from the legal, governmental, technical and media/entertainment industries will discuss a variety of topics, including first amendment/free speech concerns; the application of aviation regulation and law to media activity; dedicated spectrum allocation; flight training regulation and licensing; liability and insurance; privacy; and cross-border use issues.

The conference will address the issues and formulate recommendations for policy and best practices regarding RPAS  as a contribution to future policy/law debates.

Program/Speakers and Moderators

Click here for a copy of the brochure with complete schedule and confirmed speakers and moderators.

Overview of Current Drone Usage

Civilian usage for drones (technically, remotely piloted aircrafts or RPAs) is growing at an exponential rate. Key users are newsgathering and media production. Highly capable camera-equipped RPAs’ costs are falling dramatically and their small size will allow single journalist operation. Using RPAs can save the lives of journalists and film crews. This session is about the “issues” of using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) – the reality, the misconceptions, and the future.

 Drones/RPAs used for newsgathering and media production are tools that engage First Amendment protected activities. What are the legal arguments facilitating their deployment and protecting their editorial and creative use? Are there any countervailing interests? If so, how should the news gathering/media production interests prevail?

Sharing the Airspace: The Current Status and the Future of FAA Regulations of RPAs

The ultimate goal is to enable the unrestricted use of drones in the national airspace. The FAA is mandated under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to have rules in place by 2015. But, journalists and media producers might want to use “small drones.” Will there be proposed rules for UAS (Small Unmanned Aircraft System) by early in 2014? Will the industry be geared up for that 90-day period for comment?


How ready is the underwriting industry to write policies for drone operators?

What are the crucial issues facing the underwriting industry? What will underwriters consider as a risk that presents as “good risk”? Will news gatherers and media production companies contemplate using drones without proper cover?

Moderator: Gale A Townsley, Senior Counsel, Severson & Werson.

Insurance Law Group

Panelist: Vikki Stone, Senior Vice President, Poms and Associates, Insurance Brokers, Inc.

B. Frequency Spectrum Allocation

Access to dedicated, interference – free and secure radio frequencies is a fundamental issue for drones operations. The two key aspects are getting payload (e.g., video) data from the drone back to base and the command and control signals to be able to properly operate the aircraft. And, it’s a security issue: the drone needs to be protected in the electro-magnetic frequency space from phishing,  scamming and being hijacked.

Moderator: Professor Michael D. Scott, Southwestern Law School

Panelist: Charles Naftalin, Partner, Holland & KnightWhat are the considerations regarding product liability and product safety? How can operators mitigate the risk of product related injuries and related lawsuits?

Who is liable for what?

Moderator: Geoffrey Christopher Rapp, Professor, University of Toledo, College of Law.

Panelists: Mark Dombroff, Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge 


There are a limited number of sponsorship opportunities available for law firms, entertainment/media companies, and technology and service providers in the growing RPAS field. Click here for a list of available sponsorship opportunities.

Southwestern Law School — Using Drones in the News

9:00 a.m. – 4:40 p.m.
Reception to follow

Registration Details | Schedule

Online Registration click here
Printable Registration Form


Southwestern Law School — Using Drones in the News


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