HomeWinBuzzer NewsGitHub, OpenAI, and Microsoft See Major Claims Dismissed in Copilot Suit

GitHub, OpenAI, and Microsoft See Major Claims Dismissed in Copilot Suit

A court case claiming that GitHub Copilot violates copyright when using OpenAI to take code snippets has been mostly dismissed.


A federal judge has dismissed most of the copyright infringement claims against , , and , raised by a group of developers. The lawsuit, lled by Matthew Butterick and the Joseph Saveri Law Firm in November 2022, alleged that GitHub's Copilot improperly copied open-source code without proper attribution, thus infringing on intellectual property rights.

Lawsuit Background

The plaintiffs contended that , utilizing OpenAI's machine-learning technology, was trained on open source projects hosted on GitHub. They argued that Copilot's code suggestions included material from these projects without adhering to the original licenses, constituting copyright infringements.

Judge Jon Tigar's decision reduced the lawsuit's breadth substantially. Among the dismissed claims was an assertion under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Section 1202(b). The plaintiffs argued that Copilot stripped crucial copyright management information from the suggested code snippets. However, the judge ruled that the code generated by Copilot wasn't sufficiently identical to the copyrighted material to warrant a DMCA breach.

Remaining Claims

Although the judge dismissed claims for unjust enrichment and punitive damages, he allowed the possibility for these claims to be revised and resubmitted. The surviving allegations include an open-source license violation and a breach of contract complaint.

Both sides reported issues with the discovery process. The plaintiffs accused the defendants of stalling document production, pointing out that Microsoft had only provided one document so far. This, they argued, was insufficient given Microsoft's role in Copilot's development.

On the other hand, Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI argued that the plaintiffs' discovery requests were too broad and inefficient. OpenAI added that it couldn't produce emails until it received a correctly formatted request. The defendants stated that the dismissal of the DMCA claim should help narrow the scope of discovery, a notion the plaintiffs contested.

GitHub's Stance

GitHub maintains that Copilot operates within legal bounds, emphasizing its commitment to responsible AI innovation. The company asserts that AI advancements will significantly boost software development efficiency and improve the developer experience.

The lawsuit's outcome may influence how AI is used in software development, particularly in relation to the use of open source code and intellectual property rights. Both parties are gearing up for ongoing legal proceedings on the remaining claims.

Further Context

This case highlights a critical issue in the tech industry about intellectual-property violations emerging from AI systems. Despite Microsoft's arguments, the plaintiffs maintain that open-source licensed code should not be considered public domain. The Free Software Foundation has also raised concerns about Copilot's use of freely licensed software, adding a layer of controversy.

Judge Tigar's decision, first announced on June 24 and made public on July 5, noted that the plaintiffs failed to show that restitution for unjust enrichment is viable as a remedy for their breach of contract claims. The judge also dismissed the Section 1202(b) claim with prejudice but declined to dismiss the breach of contract claim for open-source license violations against all defendants.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.