Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI Face Copyright Lawsuit Over Copilot

Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI now face a class-action lawsuit claiming that Copilot, an AI-assisted coding tool, violates open source copyright laws, reports Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols.

As Vaughan-Nichols explains: “Copilot is an AI-based system trained on publicly accessible open source licensed code. While GitHub claims that the code it produces for programmers is not mere copies of the code, in reality, the suit claims, that's exactly what it is. Defendants claim Codex and Copilot do not retain copies of the materials they are trained on. In practice, however, the Output is often a near-identical reproduction of code from the training data."

Additionally, a statement from the Software Freedom Conservancy notes: “Given that nearly every line of FOSS ever written is likely in the Copilot training set, it's quite likely that nearly everyone reading this message will find themselves to be part of the class when the Court certifies the class. As such, every one of you, perhaps in the far future or perhaps very soon, will have to make a decision about whether to join this action or not."

The consequences of this case are potentially severe for Copilot users as well, says Vaughan-Nichols. “If the case against GitHub wins out, every last bit of code you've produced using it may be subject to a variety of open source licenses.”

Learn more at The Register.

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