An Exploratory Investigation into Code License Infringements in Large Language Model Training Datasets

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Does the training of large language models potentially infringe upon code licenses? Furthermore, are there any datasets available that can be safely used for training these models without violating such licenses? In our study, we assess the current trends in the field and the importance of incorporating code into the training of large language models. Additionally, we examine publicly available datasets to see whether these models can be trained on them without the risk of legal issues in the future. To accomplish this, we compiled a list of 53 large language models trained on file-level code. We then extracted their datasets and analyzed how much they overlap with a dataset we created, consisting exclusively of strong copyleft code. Our analysis revealed that every dataset we examined contained license inconsistencies, despite being selected based on their associated repository licenses. We analyzed a total of 514 million code files, discovering 38 million exact duplicates present in our strong copyleft dataset. Additionally, we examined 171 million file-leading comments, identifying 16 million with strong copyleft licenses and another 11 million comments that discouraged copying without explicitly mentioning a license. Based on the findings of our study, which highlights the pervasive issue of license inconsistencies in large language models trained on code, our recommendation for both researchers and the community is to prioritize the development and adoption of best practices for dataset creation and management.

In FORGE 24 1st International Conference on AI foundation models and software engineering
Jonathan Katzy
Jonathan Katzy
PhD candidate, Multi-lingual Language Models for Software Engineering

My research focusses on multi-lingual performance of Large Language Models, when applied to Software Engineering tasks.