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Opensource... NO more free?!

computer_geek77
Webdev , pythoneer
・1 min read

So, few days ago a new technology entered in industry github copilot.

Github copilot is basically a code suggestion software like other software like tabnine and kite but copilot is much more than that, it actually gives you the whole function of code just with one tab button on your keyboard.

What is point of concern then?
The problem is that github copilot will auto-complete your code if it has previously written somewhere on github.

Then what?
Github is web-based version control software, its free of cost all the people in whole world use this thing to save all their programs there so that everyone can work on same thing. It is believed that open source applications are free and everyone can use it but here comes game changing move from microsoft they are trying to commercialize copilot!

The time ivested by billions of people in writing code for opensource just to help each other and to grow developer community will all be monetized, Microsoft wanted to make profit from these people!

So, i wanted to know what you guys think about this github copilot thing as many developers then would not be able to work on opensource as now and if microsoft commercialized github copilot and further github will this affect the developer community?

Discussion (21)

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link2twenty profile image
Andrew Bone

I don't really see how microsoft selling access to an AI assistant on their server impacts open source.

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elvisoric profile image
Elvis Oric

You write code for free. They use it to train their AI and potentially you are the buyer of your own code.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

If you want everyone to have access to your code, "everyone" includes people you don't like.

If the license says they can copy and redistribute it then that's exactly what they can do - and that's your choice as a software author.

You're perfectly free to make a license that says your code can only be used by people or companies with less than $1,000,000 turnover if you want, but bigness and richness don't always correlate well with any one person's idea of "morally good".

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elvisoric profile image
Elvis Oric

My opinion is that every developer should be able to choose whether his code can be used in AI or not. And Microsoft or any other company that offers tool similar to copilot should respect that and other licenses

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computergeek profile image
computer_geek77 Author

Yes, that would be great

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link2twenty profile image
Andrew Bone

You hire a person, you train them on your code and potentially you are paying the wages of someone reproducing your code.

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computergeek profile image
computer_geek77 Author

That is the problem, we have to pay for our code

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link2twenty profile image
Andrew Bone

But you're not paying for your code. You're paying for the resources to run an AI assistant that has gleamed understanding from looking at lots of code examples.

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computergeek profile image
computer_geek77 Author

Andrew, there are people like you and me who write code in our own repository on github, microsoft is giving those code for copilot training for their profit.

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link2twenty profile image
Andrew Bone • Edited

What about companies that sell products that use React? That's open source and the companies make profit.

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eric23 profile image
Eric

Engineer Man had a good video about GitHub Copilot:
youtube.com/watch?v=b9u3ZAGQmT0

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computergeek profile image
computer_geek77 Author

thanks, I will check that .

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

When I open-source my code, it is free for any purpose under an MIT license. I am specifically allowing anyone to use it for anything, I guess that includes Microsoft distributing it to others, if they benefit, even if they had to pay to find it, I'm still happy with that.

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

The problem starts when autopilot takes code from projects it shouldn't be taking code from because of licensing reasons.

Stuff like that has the potential of causing major legal problems for both github and anyone using auto- I mean, copilot, if it accidentally ends up reproducing code that originally used a license that doesn't permit redistributing under any random license.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

That's certainly a good reason not to use copilot :)

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jwhenry3 profile image
Justin Henry

So long as copilot does not use private repos for this, I see no issue with this. If your repo is public, regardless what the license is, you're exposing your code and your knowledge to others, and you MUST assume the possibility that, even though not legal in some situations, people will copy and distribute software using your code as a basis. End of story

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psiho profile image
Mirko Vukušić

Open source is too wide to use here. There are many OS licences. In this case, there is OS that allows anybody to do anything with the code (including selling it), and there are licences that do not allow re-selling of the code or proprietary derivative works.
I don't think GitHub would break those licences. So I believe it's just a matter of choosing a right licence for your code.

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eriklz profile image
Erik Lundevall Zara

I do not see a problem with Microsoft potentially monetizing a service that has been trained on open source source code, as long as they do not break any licensing and only use public repositories as training data.

There are plenty of examples of services providing added value on top of other services or data, commercial or non-commercial.
Pick any website that provides some comparison of services and products for you to find the "best deal" for whatever it is, for example.

If licence for source code says it is free to use for commercial and non-commercial use, then that is perfectly fine. Your best bet to potentially avoid Microsoft using your code, use a copyleft license, such as GPL. It will not stop commercial use entirely, but may potentially reduce commercial utilization.

One interesting aspect here though, which I do not have an answer to, is if these various licenses cover using code as data, as opposed to code as code (that is executed). I think they probably do that, but I am not sure.

Microsoft paid $7.5 billion (in stock) for Github. No doubt Github Copilot and many other services were part of a plan to get that investment back and then some.

Technically, others could build the same thing, with public repositories. Not as likely to happen though, without a bunch of compute resources and/or money available.

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puskalkhadka profile image
Puskal khadka

Basically, We are paying for our own code. There should be provision of separate license that will prohibit company to train their bot using our code unless we give permission.

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fyodorio profile image
Fyodor

I don’t think it impacts open source software anyhow. Though I have some anxiety about robots freely accessing the huge code archive that GitHub actually is 😅

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

It is believed that open source applications are free

This is the old "free as in beer" vs "free as in freedom" debate. FOSS code is the latter, not necessarily the former.