Microsoft Is Reportedly Sued Over GitHub Copilot Piracy

Microsoft is reportedly sued over GitHub Copilot piracy. A $9 billion claim has been put up against tech giant, Microsoft over lack of attribution and copyright.

Microsoft Is Reportedly Sued Over GitHub Copilot Piracy

Microsoft Is Reportedly Sued Over GitHub Copilot Piracy

OpenAI, Microsoft, and GitHub have all been sued by programmer and lawyer Matthew Buttrick for going against various policies, laws, and copyright terms that could well amount to damages of more than $9 billion.

The claim in question alleges that GitHub copilot, which is developed to translate natural language into code violates and goes against the terms of open source licenses by training with machine learning making use of billions of lines of existing written code by human programmers.

BleepingComputer further explains that open source licenses like Apache, GPL, and MIT require the attribution of the name of the author, and defining particular copyrights.

The Copilot Copyright of GitHub

A user took to Twitter just after they had gone to GitHub Copilot to “see if it encodes code from repositories [with] restrictive licenses”. They however found code that they had written at a previous employer “that has a license allowing it used only for free games and requiring attaching the license.”

“It appears Microsoft is profiting from others’ work by disregarding the conditions of the underlying open-source licenses and other legal requirements,” the law firm which is based out in San Francisco representing Butterick on its webpage explains.

The Details of the Class Action Complaint

The class action complaint that is filed dated November 3, 2022, details just how GitHub and OpenAI have gone against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 3.6 million times.

For each of copilot’s 1.2 million users, this covers three sections of 1202 violations. The three violations here are for distributing the licensed materials without having to include or add attribution, license terms, or even a copyright notice.

“At minimum statutory damages of $2500 per violation that translates to [$9 billion]” the law firm of Butterick in the filing claims. And given the fact that Microsoft back in 2018 acquired GitHub for $7.5 billion, that’s a whole lot of money.


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