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Jan 25, 2013 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard

Excerpted from Hillicon Valley: Unmanned drones are best known for their ability to hunt down suspected terrorists abroad, but they might have an entirely different use: movie-making.

Hollywood’s lobbying group is pressing the Obama administration to allow filmmakers to use drones for aerial shots.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) revealed in a lobbying disclosure report this week that it had urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow filmmakers to fly unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace. The group had previously disclosed lobbying on the issue in a report last October.

Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the MPAA, explained that putting a camera on an unmanned aircraft can be cheaper, safer and more useful than relying on a helicopter or a crane to get a difficult shot.

“You can innovate in a number of different, interesting ways to shoot a scene [using unmanned aircraft],” Gantman said.

The FAA is currently drafting rules to allow private groups to apply to fly drones. The agency aims to begin issuing private drone licenses by 2015.

Although businesses are currently barred from operating drones, police departments around the country have already begun exploring the technology, which can be a cost-effective way to gain a bird’s-eye view of a scene.

The FAA estimates that as many as 30,000 private and government drones could be flying in U.S. skies by the end of the decade.

Some privacy advocates are sounding alarms that there aren’t enough legal safeguards in place to prevent drones from being used for mass surveillance.

They are urging Congress to enact legislation that would set nationwide restrictions on the use of drones.

Gantman emphasized that Hollywood would not be using the same technology that the CIA uses overseas. He said that unmanned aircraft used by filmmakers would mostly be small and would stay on the movie set.

“This is line-of-sight, on the set, used to take shots from above, beside different scenes,” he said.