GitHub Copilot: The Free Software Foundation Considers It Illegal

GitHub Copilot: The Free Software Foundation Considers It Illegal

At the end of June of this year, GitHub , the well-known platform for versioning and code sharing, announced the launch of a new tool: Copilot . This tool consists of Artificial Intelligence, taught from the billions of lines of code that users have on its platform, capable of writing code and programming without the user having to do anything other than write the first lines of code. . Of course, this tool was not going to be without controversy. But this controversy has reached the point that the Free Software Foundation has considered it even “illegal”.

Visual Studio Code, Microsoft‘s programming IDE, now consists of auto-complete systems that allow us to complete lines of code more or less intelligently to help us in our work. However, Copilot wants to revolutionize this by being able to write complete functions from the first few lines of code.

Código GitHub Copilot

Copilot: a new immoral and illegal service according to the FSF

The problem with this tool comes from the way Microsoft has used to teach it. Although the code that users have shared on GitHub is usually public, that an AI, designed for profit, parses it without permission and uses it for self-learning, has not been liked much by users.

According to the FSF, developers want to know if it is fair for a company, such as GitHub or Microsoft, to take advantage of their work, their code, to train this Artificial Intelligence. They also wonder if it is really legal to do what they have done to train the AI or it could be copyright infringement.

Specifically, the questions that this Free Software Foundation wants to answer are the following:

  • Is using public repositories to train GitHub Copilot AI fair? Does it infringe copyright?
  • Could you generate claims for violating GPL licensed works?
  • Could the programs generated with Copilot comply with the GPL licenses?
  • How can developers be sure that code, protected by copyright, is actually protected from GitHub Copilot?
  • If Copilot generates code that violates a free software license, how could it be justified?
  • Is the code generated by AI, or with Machine Learning, copyrighted?
  • Should the law be changed with the arrival of this type of service?

GitHub has responded to criticism from the FSF by expressing its willingness to be open to any kind of issue, including moral issues. But it has not been enough, and the Free Software Foundation wants to go all the way.

GitHub Copilot is still in testing phase

For now, the new AI from Microsoft and GitHub is in testing, and is only available to a very small group of developers. If we are interested in testing this service, we can request access to Microsoft through this link and wait for our turn to test this new AI.

Microsoft will initially offer its GitHub Copilot service completely free of charge . However, depending on the success, we may see different paid editions, although for now we do not know the characteristics that these will have.

What is certain is that, in order to use it, we must have a computer with high-end hardware and make use of Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s IDE.