GitHub, its parent company Microsoft and nonprofit OpenAI are opposing a class action lawsuit by independent developers over possible copyright abuse in GitHub Pilot.
According to the three software specialists, the accusation by the independent developers is unjustified. The lawsuit now pending should therefore be dismissed, according to Reuters.
GitHub, Microsoft and OpenAI were recently sued by a large group of independent developers for possible copyright infringement of their software. The GitHub pilot tool would use their licensed code without their permission to provide code suggestions to users of the tool.
The GitHub Copilot tool uses OpenAI’s AI technology to generate and suggest lines of code directly in developers’ code editors. The tool is trained from publicly available code on the GitHub platform. Even at launch, there were doubts that the tool took into account the various copyrights and licenses of this code.
Defense GitHub, Microsoft and OpenAI
In their defense, the three tech companies state that the lawsuit is unjustified on two counts. First, they argue that the complainants are not harmed by GitHub Copilot’s use of their code. In addition, they would also have no other obvious claim.
OpenAI adds that the complaining developers do not make it clear that for them the tool infringes any traceable legal rights. Further, the tech companies find that the software developers use “hypothetical events” to defend their claims and also fail to describe how they were personally harmed by the tool.
In their defense, GitHub, Microsoft and OpenAI also state that GitHub Copilot does not take anything away from open source code that is available to the public. The tool only helps programmers write code by making suggestions based on what the tool has learned “from the entire source of knowledge of publicly available code.
Further, the three companies accuse the developers of undermining the principles of open source. This is through a legal claim for damages and asking for millions of dollars in compensation. This in relation to the software they voluntarily shared as open-source. The lawsuit must therefore be dismissed by the court.
More legal cases
The GitHub Copilot case is not the only recent legal case in which AI technology is causing legal actions. For example, AI tools like Midjourney, Stability AI and DeviantArt have been taken to court on charges of illegally collecting artists’ works from the Internet. Getty Images has also taken Stability AI to court over claims that its tool Stable Diffusion illegally scrapes Getty images from the Internet.
Tip: Microsoft sees growth in code-writing generative AI software