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AI copyright litigation is being challenged in court by Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI

Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI have filed a proposed class action case against GitHub alleging that the businesses stole licenced technology in order to develop the AI-powered Copilot application. On Thursday, Microsoft-owned GitHub and OpenAI filed documents in federal court in San Francisco arguing that the assertions made in the lawsuit are without merit.

The situation to a climax in November of last year when programmer and attorney Matthew Butterick filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the company, claiming their product is supported by “software piracy on an unprecedented scale.” Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI want Butterick’s second planned class action lawsuit on behalf of two anonymous software engineers to be rejected for the same reasons.

Microsoft and GitHub argue that the lawsuit “fails on two basic defects: absence of damage and lack of an otherwise valid claim,” while OpenAI adds that the plaintiffs “allege a grab bag of allegations that fail to state infringement of cognizable legal rights.” The defendants contend that the plaintiffs’ allegations are based on “hypothetical occurrences” and that the plaintiffs fail to provide details about how the tool caused them injury.

Microsoft and GitHub state in the lawsuit that “Copilot withdraws nothing from the corpus of open source code accessible to the public.” Instead, “Copilot” is a tool that “helps engineers create code by producing ideas based on what it has learned from the complete body of knowledge gained from public code.”

The plaintiffs, according to Microsoft and GitHub, “undermine open source values” by seeking “an injunction and a multi-billion dollar windfall” for the “software that they voluntarily contribute in the open source community.”

The Verge reached out to Joseph Saveri Law Firm for comment, but did not get a response in time for the May hearing to dismiss the complaint.

As more and more businesses explore AI, Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI aren’t the only ones dealing with legal ramifications. Butterick and the Joseph Saveri Law Firm filed a new complaint earlier this month, claiming that MidJourney’s, Stability AI’s, and DeviantArt’s artificial intelligence art tools infringe on artists’ rights by stealing their work from the internet without permission. Additionally, Getty Photos has filed suit against Stability AI, claiming that the latter’s Stable Diffusion product “illegally” collected images from Getty’s website.