Is This Open or Not?

Do you have questions where the openness of a resource is not exactly clear?

Maybe it’s the case of content remixed from differently licensed sources, but there is a matrix to help sort those situations.

Perhaps it’s the case of the monkey selfie?

Post here an unclear licensing situation or share an example that seems to defy easy classification. If you respond, feel free to assert IANAL.

I’ve been intrigued, and maybe a bit concerned, about the algorithms that generate realistic looking photographs of humans, for example, This Person Does Not Exist

Test yourself in the Which Face is Real site which compares one face generated from This Person Does Not Exist to the set of ~70,000 open licensed face images used to train the algorithm.


Can you tell which photograph is a real person and which one is generated by an algorithm? When I try this, I am lucky to be correct 50% of the time.

These images are created from a method known as a GAN or generative adversarial network.

There is now a whole fleet of algorithms generating real looking fake items, e.g. including horses, cats, artwork, lyrics, rental properties, and more.

Beyond novelty, curiosity, and perhaps some concern over computer generated human images, some of the photos may be of use in media projects. But what’s the reuse license on algorithm generated media? To me, it hinges back to the monkey selfie case. Only humans get to declare copyright?

The Wikipedia article on Generative Adversarial Network includes an example image of a woman’s face. The license declares the license

This file is in the public domain because, as the work of a computer algorithm or artificial intelligence , it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.

So then, this cat from is in the public domain!