Dirty Deeds reprise - ITIL is clearly a commercial product not a community work

Why did OGC get control of ITIL licensing content back from the British Government agency (OPSI) that is tasked with making government IP freely available to the public or at least free from monopolistic trading on it? Did TSO spit the dummy at the competition for their ITIL product sales? Or is it just that OGC are tasked with becoming a profit centre instead of a body for the public good? And where does that leave all the volunteers who so willingly contribute to the promotion and translation of ITIL? Who are they working for? We've had our share of commercial dirty deeds in ITIL's past but this latest lot may be the most troubling. (and check out this amazing video from the 1970s: AC/DC in their early days on Australian TV)

The British Government has been on a mission for some years to make government information available in the public domain. Even the Government Ordnance Survey maps are now freely available online, arguably one of the Crown data jewels.

Until the start of this year, OGC seemed to be complying with this direction, in actions if not in spirit. Usage of OGC material was licensed by OPSI, the Office of Public Sector Information, except for ITIL for which OGC has had an exemption since 2005.

Now OGC seem to have cleaned up the oversight whereby that exemption only covered ITIL. Back in January 2010 this page on the OPSI website said

Some government departments have delegated authority from the Controller of HMSO to license the re-use of the Crown copyright material which they originate. IFTS Accreditation is used as the method of regulating decisions about the licensing of Crown copyright information by those bodies. The Controller of HMSO has also granted limited delegations to parts of government departments which have responsibility for specialised forms of licensing activity
The following have delegations to license specific types of information
Office for Government Commerce (OGC) 23/12/05 December 2005 IT Infrastructure Library Framework

but now lo and behold! it says

Office of Government Commerce
Date of delegation: 1 June 2009
IFTS assessed: December 2005
Material licensed: All Crown copyright and Crown-owned copyrights and database rights that OGC has produced or commissioned

If you don't want to play by the rules the most effective strategy is to change the rules - it certainly prevents being accused of breaking them, in letter if not in spirit. Clearly OPSI are not happy about it going by their recent critical report but this latest revision of their licensing of OGC shows they are powerless to reverse it.

OGC actually contract APMG to do the licensing and the list of licensed users of OGC material is remarkably short.

Nevertheless it is my understanding, which hopefully a reader can confirm, that the public information regulations still prevent a government body from giving commercial advantage to their own contracted publisher. Which throws an interesting light on OGC's commercial arrangement with TSO, and on the recent actions with regard to at least one other publisher, Van Haren.

As I said in my earlier post:
Since OGC has recently been rolled into the new Efficiency and Reform Group within the Cabinet Office with a new boss, it will be fun to watch whether OGC adopts a less mercenary attitude to a body of knowledge which has benefited from extensive volunteer contribution and support over the years, and was once explicitly in the public domain, but is now held in the dungeons of Castle ITIL for the enrichment of the agency and its for-profit commercial partners. Roll on COBIT5.


ITIL Licenses


The APMG list of licensed users of OGC material you refer to is actually only a list of people who have applied for permission to use ITIL copyright material AND the ITIL Trademark in the form of the ITIL Licensed Product logo. (It also entitles them to use ITIL in the title of the book which otherwise is apparently deemed a breach of trademark - something you might find interesting).

APMG licence applicants to use ITIL copyright material if they want to use the ITIL trademark as well. If you just want to use the copyright material and not the trademark you apply to OGC directly. I don't know if they have a similar list but if they did it would probably be a lot longer as I think it much more likely that people will just apply for copyright permission and not a trademark license.


big stick

Use of the word ITIL in the title of a book is deemed a breach of trademark by OGC. It isn't by my international intellectual property lawyer. We've discussed this on the blog before. OGC/APMG do like to wave that big stick.

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