Incident 240: GitHub Copilot, Copyright Infringement and Open Source Licensing

Description: Users of GitHub Copilot can produce source code subject to license requirements without attributing and licensing the code to the rights holder.


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Alleged: GitHub developed an AI system deployed by GitHub and programmers, which harmed Intellectual Property rights holders.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor

GMF Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Known AI Goal

Code Generation

Known AI Technology

Transformer, Language Modeling

Potential AI Technical Failure

Unauthorized Data, Data Memorization

Introducing GitHub Copilot: your AI pair programmer · 2021

Today, we're launching a technical preview of GitHub Copilot, a new AI pair programmer that helps you write better code. GitHub Copilot draws context from the code you’re working on, suggesting whole lines or entire functions. It helps you …

Tweet Showing Memorized Code · 2021

AIID Editor note: The tweet shows a video of the GitHub Copilot model incrementally producing many lines of code found in an open source licensed work.

Tweet: I don't want to say anything but that's not the right license Mr Copilot.

GitHub Copilot, Copyright Infringement and Open Source Licensing · 2021

Earlier this week, GitHub introduced GitHub Copilot, a new feature that it is referring to as “your AI pair programmer” but might also be appropriately called “IntelliSense on steroids.” Built using OpenAI Codex, a new system that the compa…

Analyzing the Legal Implications of GitHub Copilot · 2021

The software engineering world has been buzzing in recent days following the release of GitHub Copilot — a machine learning-based programming assistant. Copilot aims to help developers work faster and more efficiently by auto-suggesting lin…

GitHub Copilot litigation · 2022

We’ve filed a lawsuit challenging GitHub Copilot, an AI product that relies on unprecedented open-source software piracy. Because AI needs to be fair & ethical for everyone.

Hello. This is Matthew Butterick. On October 17 I told you that I …


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.