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6 Nov, 2022
1 min time to read

GitHub users have filed a class action lawsuit against GitHub, its parent company Microsoft and its technology partner OpenAI. They are accused of violating open source licenses and using it in the latest artificial intelligence tool called Copilot, which was launched in June.

GitHub Copilot is trained on "millions of public repositories" to generate code using the Codex base, an artificial intelligence system created by OpenAI and licensed to Microsoft.

Programmers claim that Codex violated their open source licences, which only allow non-commercial distribution and modification of code and often have restrictions, including the requirement to retain the authors' name.

The class action against Microsoft is led by lawyer and programmer Matthew Butterick. He set up a website dedicated to investigating GitHub Copilot and teamed up with Joseph Savery's law firm to file a class action lawsuit.

As a longtime open-source programmer, it was apparent from the first time I tried Copilot that it raised serious legal concerns, which have been noted by many others since Copilot was first publicly previewed in 2021,

Butterick said in a press release.

According to programmers who used Copilot, it generated the wrong license for the code and reproduced users' copyrighted code verbatim without proper attribution or license.

Programmers, artists and others are now concerned about the development of artificial intelligence systems because they can use the work without permission. For example, DALL-E and Stable Diffusion, which browse billions of web pages of data from the Internet without considering whether their use violates any property rights or licensing restrictions.