Can I use this publicly available dataset to build commercial AI software? Most likely not
peter.suber's bookmarks 2021-11-29
Abstract: Publicly available datasets are one of the key drivers for commercial AI software. The use of publicly available datasets (particularly for commercial purposes) is governed by dataset licenses. These dataset licenses outline the rights one is entitled to on a given dataset and the obligations that one must fulfil to enjoy such rights without any license compliance violations. However, unlike standardized Open Source Software (OSS) licenses, existing dataset licenses are defined in an ad-hoc manner and do not clearly outline the rights and obligations associated with their usage. This makes checking for potential license compliance violations difficult. Further, a public dataset may be hosted in multiple locations and created from multiple data sources each of which may have different licenses. Hence, existing approaches on checking OSS license compliance cannot be used. In this paper, we propose a new approach to assess the potential license compliance violations if a given publicly available dataset were to be used for building commercial AI software. We conduct trials of our approach on two product groups within Huawei on 6 commonly used publicly available datasets. Our results show that there are risks of license violations on 5 of these 6 studied datasets if they were used for commercial purposes. Consequently, we provide recommendations for AI engineers on how to better assess publicly available datasets for license compliance violations.