We’re nearly halfway through 2023 and this year has already been an eventful one for generative artificial intelligence (AI), presenting unique challenges and opportunities for the Creative Commons (CC) community of creators who embrace open sharing.
From the community and beyond, we are seeing urgent demands for support in navigating AI’s implications for the commons.
CC has been hard at work developing our thoughts on the intersection of copyright and generative AI inputs and outputs. In February, we kicked off a public consultation with our community members and a wide range of stakeholders to learn about their thoughts on generative AI and to contemplate ways to move toward a positive future with this promising technology.
We believe AI can work in the public interest, and want to be part of the solution in navigating to that reality.
We use “artificial intelligence” and “AI” as shorthand terms for what we know is a complex field of technologies and practices, currently involving machine learning and large language models (LLMs). Using the abbreviation “AI” is handy, but not ideal, because we recognize that AI is not really “artificial” (in that AI is created and used by humans), nor “intelligent” (at least in the way we think of human intelligence).
What We Heard From You
We talked to creators, artists, publishers, policymakers, and legal experts. There are a wide variety of uses of these new tools, and just as wide a variety of points of view. As with previous technologies like the camera and Photoshop, generative AI is providing new tools for creativity, empowering both professionals and the public at large to make new works. At the same time, we listened to creators who worry about how their works are used to train AI and produce content that may compete with their works. For instance, if someone can generate works in the style of a previous artist, is that fair to the original artist? If people can use ChatGPT to get answers gleaned from Wikipedia without ever visiting Wikipedia, will Wikipedia’s commons of information continue to be sustainable?
Hearing these diverse voices helped reinforce and clarify our view that we need to think about a diverse set of solutions to support our strategy of better sharing in a world with AI. While we think it’s important that copyright continues to leave room for people to study and learn from past works to create new ones, including by analyzing past works using automated means, copyright is just one lens to think about AI. It’s still important to grapple with legitimate concerns about this technology and consider solutions that support responsible development and use.
Importantly, we heard interest in such solutions not just from creators, but also from developers of AI. With laws varying around the world and cases in the midst of active litigation, some developers are uncertain about whether and how to proceed in building AI. Moreover, regardless of what the law permits, some developers want to work with creators to find ways to respect creators’ wishes and support the commons through clear norms and technical solutions. For instance, we met with developers actively working on opt-in and opt-out solutions for creators regarding training of AI, and we talked to many developers who see using openly-licensed content for AI training as in line with their own aspirations and values.
We also spent time consulting with developers of open-source AI tools. Open source can help grow the commons, improve transparency in AI, and democratize access to the technology. At the same time, people have raised concerns about how open source may lower the barriers to harmful uses such as deepfakes or disinformation, and we’re starting to see proposed regulatory approaches that may go too far, hindering open approaches to AI. It is critical that, as an organization and a voice for the public interest, we continue to support appropriate regulations and practices that strike a balance among essential concerns, including open access, transparency, incentives for creativity, and protecting the commons and digital rights .
Additionally, we spent time talking to legal experts from academia and from private practice. Our thoughts about using AI in the public interest are rooted in our understanding of the legal frameworks involved and the way CC’s licenses and legal tools interact with them. We want the advice we share with our community and the policy approaches we advocate for to be informed by the most thoughtful analyses of the current and evolving legal situation, and we’ll provide further insights about AI and CC’s licenses in a future post. (For now, you can find additional details in our FAQ.)
What’s Coming Up for CC
With new developments in generative AI coming daily, and with increasing debate worldwide about how best to regulate AI, it is time for CC to look to the future and to consider our place in the ongoing conversation around generative AI.
We will continue to convene critical conversations and bring together stakeholders who may not typically sit across the table from each other. If you know of events where the CC community should be engaged, please share.
Upcoming opportunities to engage in-person on these topics include:
Expert roundtables in London in mid-July
Wikimania in Singapore in August
Convening in New York in September
Policy workshops in DC in September (to be confirmed)
CC Global Summit in Mexico City in October, with a specific focus on AI and the Commons, including participants from diverse communities around the world, not just people in the centers of power and privilege who already dominate conversations about AI
Additionally, anyone may join our community Copyright Platform and participate in its community advisory group on AI.
The CC team is dedicated to loud listening as we thoughtfully consider our stance and foster an exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Our consultation is not an end in itself. Knowledge exchange through convenings will inform our intentions, and guide our actions.
There are things we must do urgently to help bring clarity to our community and support for creators. We must:
Clarify how the legal structures supporting the commons, including CC licenses and legal tools, interact with generative AI today.
Empower creators, engaging even more deeply with those whose voices are being excluded from mainstream media coverage and policy debates. One question raised by creators rests on moral rights (non economic rights) which vary between jurisdictions, creating uncertainty over reuse.
Collaborate with builders and innovators who share our values and our vision for generative AI in the public interest, to develop, test, and potentially co-create solutions that tackle challenges like transparency, credit, consent, and choice.
Please join us on this journey of discovery through our platforms, community, network and in person at our Global Summit.
Participate in the CC Global Summit: Register to join us in Mexico City during 3–6 October 2023, where our theme will be AI and the commons.
Join our community Copyright Platform and participate in its community advisory group on AI.
Learn more about how CC licenses and legal tools intersect with AI inputs and outputs, and current understandings of the legal and regulatory landscapes.
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