Microsoft’s OpenAI and GitHub seek to dismiss a proposed class-action lawsuit over the open-source code used to train their artificial intelligence systems.
Microsoft, along with its subsidiaries GitHub and OpenAI, has told a San Francisco federal court that a proposed lawsuit over the open-source code the companies use to train their AI systems is unsustainable. The companies say that the complaint, filed by anonymous copyright owners, needs to outline the allegations more precisely. Additionally, the companies state that GitHub’s Copilot system, which suggests lines of code for programmers, was within fair use of the source code it recommends.
GitHub, an online repository for hosting code, says it has “been committed to innovating responsibly with Copilot from the start” and that the motion to dismiss the lawsuit is a “testament to our belief in the work we’ve done to achieve that.”
The plaintiffs, seeking to represent people who own copyrights to code on GitHub, filed the lawsuit to sue Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI in November. They allege that the companies trained Copilot using code on GitHub without complying with open-source licensing terms, leading to Copilot unlawfully reproducing their code.
“Copilot’s goal is to replace a huge swath of open source by taking it and keeping it inside a GitHub-controlled paywall,” reads the complaint. “It violates the licenses that open-source programmers chose and monetizes their code despite GitHub’s pledge never to do so.”
Microsoft claims that the plaintiffs lack sufficient evidence to bring the case before a court and failed to argue specific injuries suffered from the companies’ actions. The companies allege in their filing that the copyright allegations would “run headlong into the doctrine of fair use,” which allows the unlicensed use of copyrighted works in certain situations.
The companies cite a 2021 US Supreme Court decision that Google’s use of Oracle source code to build its operating system was transformative fair use.