In this Essay, we analyze the arguments in favor of, and against, viewing the use of copyrighted works in training sets for AI as fair use. We call this form of fair use “fair training.” We identify both strong and spurious arguments on both sides of this debate. In addition, we attempt to take a broader perspective, weighing the societal costs (e.g., replacement of certain forms of human employment) and benefits (e.g., the possibility of novel AI-based approaches to global issues such as environmental disruption) of allowing AI to make easy use of copyrighted works as training sets to facilitate the development, improvement, adoption, and diffusion of AI. Finally, we suggest that the debate over AI and copyrighted works may be a tempest in a teapot when placed in the wider context of massive societal challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, and loss of biodiversity, to which AI may be part of the solution.



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