AI_Commons white paper

September 28, 2022

This white paper presents the case of using openly licensed photographs for AI facial recognition training datasets. The analysis is part of AI_Commons, our activity that explores how AI training datasets, and works included in those datasets, can be governed and shared as a commons.

The case creates an opportunity to ask fundamental questions about the challenges that open licensing faces today, related to privacy, exploitation of the commons at massive scales of use, or dealing with unexpected and unintended uses of works that are openly licensed.

While events that form this case go back almost a decade, these issues are still relevant. The lessons that we can draw from this case are applicable today, and can help to govern AI training datasets, and other elements of the AI technological stack. The case also creates an opportunity to review open licensing frameworks and to make them future-proof.

We are currently soliciting feedback on this white paper and are in particular interested in:

We invite you to share feedback, comments and criticism directly in the PubPub publication or by writing to Alek Tarkowski ( As a next step, we will be organizing a series of conversations Рplease fill out this form if you would like contribute to the discussion.

We are grateful to the Flickr team for their help in conducting the study of user attitudes. Additional research for this study was conducted by Francesco Vogelezang.


read the white paper


Alek Tarkowski
Zuzanna Warso
comment on PubPub:
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