No go zone: movies to legislate against artists’ use of drones in artworks

In December the Guardian was hailing 2015 as the year that drones become ‘a whole new way of creating show-stopping experiences and art’. The Art Newspaper reports that artists in America might have less than a year to use drones freely in their art. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working on legislation to restrict the use of surveillance technology in works of art, to be submitted to Congress in the autumn.

Drones are already a popular choice for photographers and filmmakers wishing to get good aerial shots, but they are increasingly being used in more inventive ways, such as Cirque du Soleil’s live performance: ‘Sparked’.

Current restrictions in the USA and also the UK apply only to commercial use of drones. The Art Newspaper quotes Megan Ralstin, an attorney with Schlackman Intellectual Property Law, who points out that the current policy of permitting recreational drone use but restricting commercial activity “puts artists in a strange place”. “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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