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Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI Sued for $9B in Damages over Piracy

Accepted submission by canopic jug at 2023-01-05 03:35:52 from the 17-USC-§§-1201-1205 dept.

As projected here back in October, there is now a class action lawsuit [], albeit in its earliest stages, against Microsoft over its blatant license violation through its use of the M$ GitHub Copilot tool. The software project, Copilot, strips copyright licensing and attribution from existing copyrighted code on an unprecedented scale. The class action lawsuit insists that machine learning algorithms, often marketed as "Artificial Intelligence", are not exempt from copyright law nor are the wielders of such tools.

The $9 billion in damages is arrived at through scale. When M$ Copilot rips code without attribution and strips the copyright license from it, it violates the DMCA three times. So if olny 1% of its 1.2M users receive such output, the licenses were breached 12k times with translates to 36k DMCA violations, at a very low-ball estimate.

“If each user receives just one Output that violates Section 1202 throughout their time using Copilot (up to fifteen months for the earliest adopters), then GitHub and OpenAI have violated the DMCA 3,600,000 times. At minimum statutory damages of $2500 per violation, that translates to $9,000,000,000,” the litigants stated.

Besides open-source licenses and DMCA (§ 1202, which for­bids the removal of copy­right-man­age­ment infor­ma­tion), the lawsuit alleges violation of GitHub’s terms of ser­vice and pri­vacy poli­cies, the Cal­i­for­nia Con­sumer Pri­vacy Act (CCPA), and other laws.

The suit is on twelve (12) counts:
– Violation of the DMCA.
– Breach of contract. x2
– Tortuous interference.
– Fraud.
– False designation of origin.
– Unjust enrichment.
– Unfair competition.
– Violation of privacy act.
– Negligence.
– Civil conspiracy.
– Declaratory relief.

Furthermore, these actions are contrary to what GitHub stood for prior to its sale to M$ and indicate yet another step in ongoing attempts by M$ to undermine and sabotage Free and Open Source Software and the supporting communities.

(2022) GitHub Copilot May Steer Microsoft Into a Copyright Lawsuit []
(2022) Give Up GitHub: The Time Has Come! []
(2021) GitHub’s Automatic Coding Tool Rests on Untested Legal Ground []

Original Submission