News media challenges FAA ban on journalists’ use of drones citing First Amendment protections

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WASHINGTON – Sixteen media organizations are challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on journalists’ use of drones, saying it violates First Amendment protection for news gathering.

The organizations, including The Associated Press, filed a brief with the National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday in support of aerial photographer Raphael Pirker.

Pirker was fined by the FAA for flying a small drone near the University of Virginia to make a commercial video in October 2011. He appealed the fine to the safety board, which hears challenges to FAA decisions.

An administrative law judge ruled in March that the FAA can’t enforce its blanket policy against the commercial use of drones when the agency hasn’t issued regulations for commercial drone use.

FAA officials have said they hope to issue regulations later this year.

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