January 30, 2023

ChatGPT Sued: Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI Respond to Allegations of Code Theft


GitHub Inc, OpenAI Inc, and Microsoft Corp--parent of GitHub--have submitted to the San Francisco court, USA, to reject the class-action lawsuit against them. They consider the claims underlying the allegations of theft of programming code to build a tool called Copilot owned by GitHub, on OpenAI's AI-based search engine, ChatGPT, are not strong.

The lawsuit in question was registered by a lawyer who is also a programmer, Matthew Butterick, with a team from the Joseph Saveri Law Firm. They filed a lawsuit last November alleging that ChatGPT stood for "software piracy on an immeasurable scale". Butterick et al then filed a second class action suit on behalf of two anonymous software developers.

In their files, Microsoft and GitHub stated that the lawsuit was flawed on two intrinsic points: no one was harmed and there were no claims to the contrary. Whereas OpenAI is similar in saying that the plaintiffs allege many things but are unable to demonstrate known violations of law.

The three, on the other hand, suspect that the plaintiff is only assuming. “Copilot did not pull anything from the publicly available body of open source code,” Microsoft and GitHub argued in court filings.

Instead, the two claims, "Copilot helps software developers write code by generating suggestions based on what it has learned from the entire body of knowledge gleaned from public code."

Additionally, Microsoft and GitHub claim that it is the plaintiffs who have undermined the principles of open source by demanding billions of dollars in respect of software they voluntarily share as open source.

The court plans to hear the parties in May.

Another Lawsuit Regarding AI

Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI aren't the only ones facing legal trouble. Earlier this month, Butterick and the same team also filed another lawsuit alleging AI art tools created by MidJourney, Stability AI, and DeviantArt violated copyright laws by illegally removing artists' work from the internet.

Getty Images is also suing Stability AI over claims the company's Stable Diffusion tool illegally harvested images from the site.

ChatGPT is Banned on This Campus

The French university Sciences Po has banned the use of the artificial intelligence search engine ChatGPT, citing plagiarism prevention. The university has already emailed students about the ban on the use of ChatGPT and other similar artificial intelligence-based tools.

"Without transparent references, students are prohibited from using the software to create written assignments or presentations, except for specific lecture purposes, with supervision from the course instructor," read the contents of the e-mail from Sciences Po as reported by Reuters, Saturday, January 28, 2023.

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence-based software that can answer any question in a human-like way. Apart from answering, ChatGPT can also create long texts, even essays, poems, and jokes.

Sciences Po said the harshest punishment for using a tool like ChatGPT was exclusion from campuses, even universities across France. According to the campus, ChatGPT raises important questions for educators and researchers around the world about forgery in general and plagiarism in particular.

"The capabilities of the artificial intelligence tool have experts concerned that ChatGPT is being used for cheating and plagiarism," the statement added.

A number of schools and universities in the United States have also banned the use of ChatGPT. The educational institution there plans to reduce the amount of homework and increase essay and oral examinations.

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