ITIL is copyright: use of quotations and extracts

Since I had it wrong in my own mind, I thought I'd clarify the terms of use of ITIL as a copyrighted work.

I was aware that ITIL is the property of Her Majesty the Queen [true! bet she hasn't read it though], but I thought fair use allowed limited commerical quotation. Wrong.

In the USA the doctrine of fair use might just be applied to commercial use under special circumstances (i.e. if you scored strongly on the other three "balancing" criteria) but in general ITIL can be copied only with permission for commercial use.

In other countries "fair dealing" is similar.

You pretty much can't quote it at all for commercial use without permission. Other use is fuzzy, but academic work and parody are fairly safe. However there are some very grey areas - see this recent comment

[OGC's view Update: OGC are gone. here is The Cabinet Office's view] of the use of ITIL pretty much says you need a licence unless they've put it on a website or you are APMG.

So all you vendors and consultants you need to get a licence to quote a single hair on ITIL's head. I wonder if the term "Change Management" is copyright?

The word is that OGC is agressively beefing up its protection of intellectual property [after all they've outsourced just about everything else they do] so be warned.


Crown Copyright

UK Crown Copyright re-use is overall administered by OPSI (not OGC) and APMG has rights also to grant permission specifically only to PRINCE2 and ITIL material.
The Public Sector has a mandate in the UK to support wide use of guidance and Crown Copyright material -- it's what the UK taxpayer pays for!
Technically OPSI could pursue all those who abuse copyright down to the last letter -- but with their public service manadate you would guess/hope that they would apply sense to these decisions and focus first on really flagrant abuse.
OGC of course own their own brands (PRINCE2 and ITIL etc)-- nothing to do with OPSI -- and it makes me wonder whether the 'beefing up' you refer to is on the brand side rather than the Crown Copyright side.

copyright and trademark/patent

yes you may be right about defending the brand more strongly.

A brand is not copyright though trademark is usually ascerted. Common sense dictates that if ITIL exists and calls itself "ITIL" then I have to be able to refer to it, to use the name, without licence. I am free to talk about ITIL. ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL ITIL - so sue me. According to my international intellectual property lawyer (yes I have one) the use of ITIL in the name of a book or website is also defensible. I can write a book about ITIL and call it "About ITIL" without infringing copyright or trademark, so long as I make it clear that the book is not part of ITIL. I don't need the permission of Coca-Cola to call a book "The Unauthorised History of Coca-Cola".

With regard to "Change Management" or "Service Desk", there is a difference between copyright and trademark/patent. I imagine there is plenty of "prior art" to show these terms are not the invention of ITIL and therefore cannot be claimed. Certainly OGC holds no patents. So how small a fragment of text is subject to copyright? Individual terms and phrases?

The words of ITIL may be copyright but the concepts are not patent, and cannot be due to prior art (try telling that to Microsoft). So we can talk about them in our own words. We can write books about them in our own words. we can describe a change management process or a CMDB without infringing copyright so long as it is in our own words.

And as part of a discussion of ITIL, commercial or otherwise, a court is likely to consider reasonable quotations from ITIL where relevant to be "fair use".

Correct, lawyers?

Finally, as you say, one could throw some serious mud at a UK government agency that retarded the adoption of government intellectual property.

TJ had it right

While OGC (or the Queen) may object to the heavens, they do not determine fair use. It is the courts.

Here's the point: Innovation depends on the ability to build upon existing knowledge. If Rights-Owners absolutely control knowledge, they prevent innovation. For example, can I share my ITIL books with a co-worker? Technically, this is a commercial situation. So OGC may so no.

But consider the implications if people could not share books without paying for the privilege. This means the poor and uneducated are compelled to break the law. How many college students would not have graduated without "borrowing" from a colleague.

Cable TV has sometimes been called the first Napster. Cable owners effectively “stole” broadcasts from the airwaves and sold it to subscribers. The Supreme Court ultimately decided that while Rights-Owners were entitled to compensation, they could not restrict the use of the cable medium. That is, Rights-Owners could not stifle innovation.

How about this site? You've got quite a handful of ITIL quotes on this commercial web-site. Technically, you are distributing them without permission of the OGC.

Fair use exists for precisely these reasons. The great Thomas Jefferson himself recoiled at the idea of right's protection. He compared it to owning fire and oxygen:

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

OGC and the Queen do not hail from the same libertarian land

OGC and the Queen do not hail from the same libertarian land as Thomas Jefferson. The British are distinctly less enlightened on matters of free speech. I expect OGC to pursue issues of intellectual property in an uncompromising manner. That said, I expect it only in cases where they can rouse themselves from their public service torpor. Their intellectual property lawyer will need one or two heads on a pike to justify his/her existence but the majority of infractions may well go unmolested.

Base Science and the good old days

My opinion is that this is not only a problem or a situation restricted to the OGC. If I quote something from the books, I should get a permission from the OGC (but I've never got a response from any publisher I've asked for permission), and if you use the term ITIL with commercial use, you should ask for permission (Skeptic, you have google ads in here, and you use the term ITIL, so you are in risk!!).

In the old days, this would have been base science, and then it would be generally accepted to quote and indicate the source of the quote... but now everybody wants money for the "intellectual property"...

Can I talk about a "Service Desk" without telling something like "Service Desk is a registered term by HM The Queen"?

So I propose to create an "FreeKnowledgeWare community" that reinvents all the terms (because the concepts are common sense) and places all this knowledge for the utility of the world.

I always do the same reflexion: can I patent (or copyright) the add operation ?

Bigger than OGC

There already exist such a mechanism. It is called the Creative Commons. I use it often and it works.

Always, and everywhere, free resources have been crucial to innovation and creativity. Just because control of a resource is possible, it doesn't follow that it should be controlled at all. In a free society, the burden of justification should fall on those who would defend the systems of control.

There was a time when creativity was unregulated. There was a time when the law of copyright affected regulated publishers only. Its scope was just "maps, charts and books." This meant every aspect of creative life was free. Music could be performed in public without a license from a lawyer; a novel could be turned into a play even if the novel was copyrighted. A story could be adapted into a different story; many were, as the very act of creativity was understood to be the act of taking something and re-forming it into something new.

Obviously, many resources must be controlled if they are to be produced and sustained. I should have the right to control access to my house and my car. You shouldn't be allowed to rifle through my desk. OGC should have the right to control access to its documents. This preserves the incentive to produce these resources.

But many resources should be free. The right to criticize a government official should not be controlled. I shouldn't need the permission of the Einstein estate before I test his theory against newly discovered data. Nor should I need OGC's permission to use its documents in fair and creative ways. These resources gain value be being kept free rather than controlled.

The point is about the nature of the constraints on the practice of creativity. The nature of creativity was free, or at least free of the law. Now, in a world of digital rip, burn and mix, precisely when the potential to expand the reach of creativity to an extraordinary range of culture and commerce, we find ourselves in a different climate. We need to relearn the old lessons.


official text on copyright

Hi Antonio - it was very nice meeting you this week!
If you really want to know the details on what is and what is not allowed, then perhaps you should read
And if I recall well, the CAR project said that the winner of the bidding was going to be responsible for the (operational) protection of the copyrighted material.... which would mean that APMG and TSO would now have to police the web, the illegal copies at Amazon, all illegal quotes of the ITIL material in forums, all illegally published summaries of ITIL, etcetera. Until now, I haven't heard of any legal action by APMG, TSO, OPSI or OGC, on all those violations that you can find all over the web - not only on V3 but also on V2.... which is still the large majority of what is consumed as "ITIL".

OGC's view not the courts' view

yes I linked to that above.

a) it is very vague, or rather it is hopelessly broad: "all reuse of Crown copyright material".

b) that is OGC's view not the courts' view.

c)as you point out, there is a long road from assertion to enforcement

Lawrence Lessig

BTW, for those interested in this topic, I'd suggest *any* book by the absolutely brilliant Lawrence Lessig.

And yes, these best selling books are available on-line for *free*.

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