Microsoft’s GitHub partnership with OpenAI resulting in autonomous code building project dubbed Copilot faces a class action lawsuit before it can become widespread tool.
Class action litigators from the Joseph Saveri Law Firm in California filed a lawsuit on behalf of its client Matthew Butterick, who is also a lawyer and programmer, against Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI in the US federal court of San Francisco.
Butterick and company claim that Microsoft’s participation in the Copilot project pirates open-source development by violating not only GitHub’s own policies but goes further and violates the California Consumer Privacy Act and DCMA 1202 which addresses False Copyright Management Information.
By training their AI systems on public GitHub repositories (though based on their public statements, possibly much more) we contend that the defendants have violated the legal rights of a vast number of creators who posted code or other work under certain open-source licenses on GitHub. Which licenses? A set of 11 popular open-source licenses that all require attribution of the author’s name and copyright, including the MIT license, the GPL, and the Apache license. (These are enumerated in the appendix to the complaint.)
The lawsuit comes as a first step for Butterick and the Joseph Saveri Law Firm as they plan to amend their complaint to “add other parties and claims,” to which they will have millions of GitHub users to vouch for if indeed Microsoft, GitHub and Open AI are found to be in violation.