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Judge Dismisses DMCA Claims Against Microsoft, OpenAI, GitHub

An illustration of a courtroom scene with a judge dismissing a lawsuit against Microsoft, OpenAI, and GitHub, featuring symbols representing AI, coding, and legal documents, highlighting the implications for the generative AI industry

Judge Dismisses DMCA Claims Against Microsoft, OpenAI, GitHub

A judge has partially dismissed a billion-dollar class-action lawsuit against GitHub, OpenAI, and Microsoft. The lawsuit alleged unauthorized use of intellectual property (IP) to train the “GitHub Copilot” AI coding software.

Background of the Lawsuit

The plaintiffs accused OpenAI of "scraping" GitHub for human-created coding snippets to train GitHub Copilot without permission, compensation, or credit. They claimed Copilot reproduced human-generated code line-for-line, seeking $1 billion in compensation.

Key Points:

  • Five anonymous complainants, identified as “John Doe” in court documents, represent the suing class.

  • California Northern District Judge Jon S. Tigar dismissed the class claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because the plaintiffs "failed to show their code was reproduced identically."

Implications of the Dismissal

The dismissal, filed by Judge Tigar on June 24 and unsealed on July 5, is considered a win for Big Tech and the generative AI industry, which face several similar lawsuits. The case, originally filed in 2022, was expected to have significant implications for the tech industry, with analysts predicting it could impact the wider world of artificial intelligence.

Analyst Perspectives:

The Verge’s James Vincent compared the situation to the "Napster-era of AI," suggesting that allowing Microsoft to use others' code without attribution could harm the open-source movement.

Future of Related Lawsuits

The outcome of this case might influence other lawsuits against Microsoft and OpenAI, including one from The New York Times. Similar to the coding lawsuit, The New York Times alleges that OpenAI used its IP to train models that produce outputs containing identical information.

Ongoing Legal Challenges:

  • The ruling's impact on related cases, such as The New York Times lawsuit, remains uncertain.

  • It may lead to more freedom for Microsoft, OpenAI, and GitHub in their AI-generated coding endeavors.