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What AI Can Teach Us about Copyright and Fair Use

Special Report:

Creativity & AI

The image of Marilyn Monroe was generated with using the prompt “marilyn monroe, symmetrical, neon colors, shoulders visible, pop-art, one point perspective, looking straight at the camera, looking forward, artificial intelligence, highlight detailed, with hair like marilyn monroe”

Fair use is a flexible, open-ended limitation on copyright that is meant to protect uses that further the purpose of copyright itself. So by exploring copyright’s outer limits through fair use, we better understand copyright and its proper place in the regulation of information.

The past six months or so have seen the seemingly sudden appearance of several startlingly powerful AI tools that create complex new textual and visual works in response to relatively simple prompts. You probably know at least a couple by name: ChatGPT (for text) and Stable Diffusion (for images) are the ones that seem to have taken over my social feeds. These tools are creating a buzz in part because the works they generate are sometimes good enough to pass for or replace the work of humans, at least in some contexts. This raises a laundry list of policy questions, some as old as the story of John Henry (will machines put humans out of work?), others as 21st-century as data sovereignty (how can nations govern data pertaining to their citizens when it flows seamlessly around the globe?).

The inevitable raft of copyright lawsuits raises one key legal question that threatens to stop these AI models in their tracks: Do the creators of these tools need permission from the copyright holders of the works they use to “train” their AI models? After all, building these models requires having AI analyze huge bodies of existing works, and that analysis involves massive amounts of copying of the works involved. The outputs of these models may be new works, but the AI can’t generate new and meaningful output unless it has access to existing works as input.


Freethink Media, a digital publisher telling stories about the people and ideas moving our world forward to over 20+ million followers, recently released a special issue: Creativity & AI. Each week we will highlight here one of Freethink’s compelling articles or docu-style videos that delves into the influence of AI and its profound impact on our world and society today. Known for captivating content featuring news from the frontiers, Freethink is committed to being a trusted source for exploring the transformative power of AI. Rob Chapman-Smith, VP Editor in Chief, and Blair Milam, VP Brand Partnerships and Strategy, from Freethink Media, will be presenting at the Elevate conference on AI & Creativity. If you’re interested in exploring how AI is shaping various industries and gaining insights into the future of AI-driven innovation, their upcoming panel session on Wednesday, July 19th, from 9:00-9:30 am MST is an excellent opportunity to learn more! Rob and Blair will bring you frontrow to the storytellers experimenting with the edges of this cultural movement and discovering how AI can transform creativity to enhance our world. Prepare to be inspired as they share unique perspectives on how AI is reshaping our world and opening up new horizons of possibility for all.


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