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Court Dismisses DMCA Claims in Landmark AI Code Generator Case, Leaving Breach of Contract Claims Intact

The ongoing conflict between open source software developers and leading AI code generators continues. Recently, the Court made significant rulings in a landmark case involving these parties. While it dismissed the Plaintiffs’ claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Section 1202(b) with prejudice, it allowed the breach of contract claims related to open source license violations to proceed. However, the Court also rejected Plaintiffs’ requests for unjust enrichment and punitive damages.

DC IP Lawyers note that this case holds considerable importance for the future of AI code generators, crucial tools that greatly enhance productivity for software developers. These generators are trained using open source software from platforms like GitHub, providing suggestions to developers during code creation. Developers argue that these tools may violate open source licenses due to alleged non-compliance with their terms.

This marks the second round of dismissals in the litigation. Initially, Plaintiffs asserted that Defendants used their source code to train AI models underlying the code generators, which allegedly reproduce portions of Plaintiffs’ code without adhering to the required attribution in the open source licenses. This, Plaintiffs argued, constitutes both a license breach and a violation of the DMCA, which prohibits the removal of certain copyright management information.

After the recent round of legal proceedings, the Court dismissed additional state law claims such as intentional interference with economic relations, unjust enrichment, negligence, and unfair competition, all with prejudice. It also rejected the DMCA claim under Section 1202(b), citing failure to meet the identicality requirement, though Plaintiffs were granted an opportunity to amend this claim.

DC IP Lawyers Advise: It’s essential to note that the defendants in this case are the developers of AI code generators, not the users. However, the implications for users are significant. If the code output from these generators does not comply with open source license terms, users of such code may also face potential liability for breach of contract.

To mitigate such risks, users are advised to update their open source policies to accommodate the use of AI code generators. Some tools offer features like duplication detection and code reference, which can identify and provide details on code output that matches publicly available GitHub code, aiding compliance with license conditions.

As this legal battle unfolds, its outcomes will likely shape the landscape for both AI technology development and the utilization of open source software in the future.

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