Guidance Regarding Use of Generative AI Tools for Open Source Software Development

We have received numerous questions from our project communities about contributing AI-generated code to Linux Foundation projects.

Open source software has thrived for decades based on the merits of each technical contribution that is openly contributed to and reviewed by community peers. Development and review of code generated by AI tools should be treated no differently.

Code or other content generated in whole or in part using AI tools can be contributed to Linux Foundation projects. However, there are some unique considerations related to AI generated content that developers should factor into their contributions. 

  1. Contributors should ensure that the terms and conditions of the generative AI tool do not place any contractual restrictions on how the tool’s output can be used that are inconsistent with the project’s open source software license, the project’s intellectual property policies, or the Open Source Definition
  2. If any pre-existing copyrighted materials (including pre-existing open source code) authored or owned by third parties are included in the AI tool’s output, prior to contributing such output to the project, the Contributor should confirm that they have have permission from the third party owners–such as the form of an open source license or public domain declaration that complies with the project’s licensing policies–to use and modify such pre-existing materials and contribute them to the project. Additionally, the contributor should provide notice and attribution of such third party rights, along with information about the applicable license terms, with their contribution.

Some tools provide features that can assist contributors. For example, some tools provide a feature that suppresses responses that are similar  to third party materials in the AI tool’s output, or a  feature that flags similarity between copyrighted training data or other materials owned by third parties and the AI tool’s output and provides information about the licensing terms that apply to such third party materials. 

Individual Linux Foundation projects may develop their own project-specific guidance and recommendations regarding AI-generated content. Similarly, organizations that employ open source developers may have more stringent guidelines related to use of AI for software development. Contributors should comply with their employer’s policies when contributing.