GitHub introduces the “Copilot for Business” programme in the midst of copyright issues.

Enterprises can now use Copilot thanks to Microsoft’s GitHub. The cloud-based Git repository provider this week unveiled a brand-new plan called “Copilot for Business,” which has a monthly user fee of $19.

The Copilot for Business strategy is GitHub’s attempt to expand its user base. The new promotion is anticipated to increase the 400,000 members to the AI tool, which helps programmers write programmes by making suggestions based on their current work on the project. The tool complements Visual Studio, Neovim, and JetBrains integrated development environments, making code writing for developers simpler and faster. The application is driven by the OpenAI-developed AI model called Codex, which was “trained on tens of millions of public repositories.”

The business plan offers licence management and organization-wide policy management capabilities in addition to the features available in the single-license Copilot tier. The service boasts industry-leading privacy, according to GitHub, which “won’t keep code snippets, save or distribute your code regardless of the data being from public repositories, private repositories, non-GitHub repositories, or local files.”

The launch of the new offer was accelerated, according to Shuyin Zhao, Senior Director of Product Management at GitHub, after learning that “companies want an easy way to purchase GitHub Copilot for their teams.” However, predicting that businesses will warmly embrace the offer is nearly impossible, as Copilot is still mired in an ongoing copyright infringement dispute.

People first spotted Copilot producing dubious codes months ago. Tim Davis, a professor of computer science at Texas A&M University, criticised GitHub in October after he saw that when public code is banned, the programme produces “huge sections of my copyrighted code, with no acknowledgement, no LGPL licence.” The filter is intended to be a fix to stop suggestions of codes that match (or almost match) the public code on GitHub. It “checks code suggestions with their surrounding code of around 150 characters against public code on GitHub,” according to a GitHub article. Nevertheless, the tool appears ineffectual, particularly after Davis published the scenario he identified.

According to GitHub, a suggestion may occasionally include code fragments longer than 150 characters that are similar to the training set (1% of the time). Additionally, according to GitHub, the tool may generate code with “undesirable patterns,” which could put users at danger. According to its document, GitHub:

From a model that OpenAI constructed from trillions of lines of open source code, GitHub Copilot provides recommendations. As a result, the training set for GitHub Copilot may include defects, references to out-of-date APIs, or insecure coding styles. On the basis of this training data, GitHub Copilot may generate suggestions that include unwanted patterns.

You are in charge of making sure your code is secure and reliable. We advise you to exercise the same caution when utilising code produced by GitHub Copilot as you would when using any other non-self-written code. These safety measures include thorough testing, IP scanning, and monitoring for security flaws.

The notice places the onus of responsibility squarely on the users, putting them at risk of legal action should any omitted copyrighted recommendations be used in the finished products of their projects.

Matthew Butterick, a programmer and attorney, teamed up with class-action law firm Joseph Saveri Law Firm in November to forward a class-action case against Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI.

Since Copilot was initially made available to the public in 2021, many people have expressed major legal concerns about it, according to Butterick, a lifelong open-source engineer. “I felt compelled to defend the open-source community because I’m also a lawyer. Since Joe founded the Joseph Saveri Law Firm, we have been friends. One of the best class-action law companies in the nation is what he has turned it into. I’m happy to work with Joe and his company on behalf of the open-source programmers whose rights Copilot is violating.

Despite the problems, GitHub is committed to making Copilot available to more users, particularly businesses. But only time will tell if businesses will be willing to take the chance.