Ever since it was announced, GitHub Copilot has faced pushback. Sure, in theory, the tool is amazing and as I reported this week, Microsoft has big plans for it. However, fans question the fairness of the tool and now Microsoft is facing a class-action lawsuit against the programming tool.
Microsoft first introduced GitHub Copilot in 2021 and has been previewing the service since. It costs $10 per month or $100 per year (per user). GitHub Copilot runs on a new AI platform developed by OpenAI known as Codex. Copilot is designed to help programmers across a wide range of scenarios and frameworks.
Copilot gives access to code archives users can access to plug gaps or fill in areas of their code. To do this, it takes code from the GitHub archive from public repositories. Since its announcement, Copilot has met with controversy that has generally persisted since.
One of the biggest criticisms of the service is that Microsoft is charging people to access code that is available elsewhere for free. Microsoft's argument is that the AI that automatically finds code and plugs it into user's projects is the real benefit of Copilot.
However, the accusation against the tool is back and this time in a more formal way. A class action lawsuit by Matthew Butterick argues Microsoft is violating GitHub's policies and code ethics such as attribution. The programmer and author is represented by Joseph Saveri Law Firm in California.
Alongside Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI are named in the lawsuit. Butterick says Microsoft is violating the California Consumer Privacy Act, and DMCA 1202 – which “forbids the removal of copyright-management information”:
“This is the first step in what will be a long journey. As far as we know, this is the first class-action case in the US challenging the training and output of AI systems. It will not be the last. AI systems are not exempt from the law. Those who create and operate these systems must remain accountable. If companies like Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI choose to disregard the law, they should not expect that we the public will sit still. AI needs to be fair & ethical for everyone. If it's not, then it can never achieve its vaunted aims of elevating humanity. It will just become another way for the privileged few to profit from the work of the many.”
Tip of the day: For the most part, Windows apps are stable, but they can still be still thrown out of whack by updates or configuration issues. Many boot their PC to find their Microsoft Store isn't working or their Windows apps aren't opening. Luckily Windows 11 and Windows 10 have an automatic repair feature for apps that can resolve such issues.