"A class-action lawsuit against Microsoft's GitHub Copilot claims the AI product is committing software piracy on an unprecedented scale", he says the IT Pro.
Developer/designer Matthew Butterick filed the lawsuit Thursday in San Francisco, saying it involved the accounts of millions of GitHub users who may be affected by the Copilot service.
The lawsuit seeks to challenge the legality of GitHub Copilot, as well as the OpenAI Codex that powers the AI tool, and has been filed against Microsoft's GitHub and OpenAI…
"By training their AI systems from public GitHub repositories, we argue that the defendants have violated the legal rights of a vast number of creators who published code or other projects under certain open source licenses on GitHub," Butterick said.
These licenses include 11 popular open source licenses that all require attribution of the author's name and copyright, such as the MIT License, the GNU General Public License, and the Apache License. The lawsuit alleges that Copilot is infringing and removing these licenses offered by thousands, possibly millions, of software developers, thereby committing software piracy on an unprecedented scale.
Copilot, which runs entirely on Microsoft Azure, often simply reproduces code that can be found in open source repositories or licensees, according to the lawsuit.
But the code never contains references to the underlying authors, which violates the licenses.
"It is not fair, permissible or justified. Copilot's goal is to replace a huge chunk of open source by taking it and keeping it within a controlled paywall from GitHub….”
The suit also alleges that the defendants are in violation of GitHub's terms of service and privacy policies, pursuant to DMCA 1202 prohibiting the removal of copyright management information and the California Consumer Privacy Act.
The lawsuit also accuses GitHub of monetizing open source developer code, "despite GitHub's commitment never to do so."
Butterick said that "artificial intelligence systems are not exempt from the law... If companies like Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI choose to ignore the law, don't expect us to sit idly by." Butterick believes that artificial intelligence can only elevate humanity if it is “fair and ethical for all. If it isn't... it will just become another way for the privileged few to profit from the work of the many."