developers file class action lawsuit against Microsoft

The GitHub Copilot is supposed to make day-to-day tasks easier for developers by completing code using an AI. In some cases, however, the program has copied copyrighted code. Microsoft may soon have to answer for it in court.

In order to combat possible copyright infringements, attorney Joseph Saveri and open source attorney and developer Matthew Butterick have filed a class action lawsuit against Microsoft, GitHub, OpenAI and other groups.

The artificial intelligence tool Copilot is based on a model from OpenAI and is said to have been trained using billions of lines of code found on the internet. The open source codes used for this purpose, however, were not necessarily approved for this purpose. In mid-October, Tim Davis had for example noted that Copilot had issued protected code for the transposition of a sparse matrix.

As this is a class action authorized in the United States, other affected developers also have the opportunity to participate in the proceedings.

In the complaint filed, GitHub Copilot is accused of using code from Quake III. The fact that the software is under the GPLv2 license was not indicated after the content was copied. In principle, source code protected by copyright may only be used under the conditions specified in the license. Also, it is illegal to remove author metadata.

In the context of the GitHub Copilot, the question of whether code produced by the use of an artificial intelligence tool can be copyrighted may arise in the future. Currently, there is a difference between self-written software and software generated by another program.

This is why some jurists should still look into the question in the years to come.

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