Question: A drone hobbyist submitted to our paper several photographs of town landmarks, taken from his drone. Can we publish them? Can we pay the hobbyist for them? Can we assign the hobbyist to take additional photos, whether of landmarks or of breaking news events such as fires and motor vehicle accidents?
Short answers: You can publish the photos, and you can compensate the hobbyist for the photos so long as you did not commission them. But if you engage the hobbyist as the equivalent of a freelance photographer on assignment, paid or not, you risk getting a nasty letter from the Federal Aviation Administration.
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