Who actually owns ITIL?

…That would (now) be the Cabinet Office, under direction of the OGC (which is also a division of the UK government)

Back in 2010 (and leading up until then as well), there was a slight controversy in the IT community concerning who has the precedent to control / manage the rights to the ITIL.  Detractors tend to view any intervention of the government or mandated copyright ownership(s) is without precedent.   However, we must also be able to look past ongoing squabbles over control issues in order to gain true clarity of understanding; the truth is, whoever owns (and has been controlling the progress and development of) the ITIL has done a satisfactory job.  This is evidenced by the fact that it is widely known and used.  Just look at the large number of businesses that are utilizing / have utilized ITIL to bring their long term goals to fruition.
Many people actually don’t realize that the ITIL is held under a “Crown Copyright”.  This is to say that Her Majesty’s Government actually owns the rights to all ITIL materials, and they are not public domain, as many tend to think.  However, despite copyright issues / concerns, the UK government is actually very gracious in the manner in which they allow virtually anyone to participate in the ongoing development of ITIL.

In fact, it could be said that if this government body had not elected to allow for worldwide participation and distribution, the ITIL wouldn’t be the powerhouse that it is today.  Once you realize that along with claim of ownership comes enormous responsibility (including investing large financial sums to ensure sustainability), it becomes apparent that this arm of the UK government might actually be doing us all a favor.

Here are the goals outlined by the OGC concerning how they manage materials and personnel:  (information taken directly from the UK national archives site - http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110822131357/http://www.ogc.gov.uk)

On the other side of the argument, it could be considered somewhat dangerous to allow governmental institutions to perpetually own industry-infrastructure critical intellectual copyright materials / resources such as the ITIL.  This is because such a large portion of the inherent material(s), including ongoing additions, actually comes from public sources.  However, once again, to say that the people responsible for managing the ITIL aren’t doing a satisfactory job is ludicrous.  Perhaps a better long term strategy for appeasing all involved parties would be to allow for gradual transfer of copyright to the public domain over an extended period of time?

Once again however, we must go back and examine how ITIL got started in the first place.  It was actually the UK government who approached the CCTA (central computer and telecommunications agency) in the 1980’s with the idea of developing a more consistent, efficient and thorough methodology resource for the use of IT assets.  At the time, this was done for the benefit of British-based (public sector) organizations; however, over time, the ITIL has been disseminated across the entire globe.

So, in many ways, the OGC is right to claim ownership over ITIL, simply because it was an idea born of a governmental organization.  Detractors have their valid points too however, because it is clear that the ITIL cannot remain inexorably attached to any one government forever.  On the other hand, virtually everyone in the IT community owes a debt of gratitude to this branch of the UK government which had the foresight to envision such a thing as ITIL in the first place.

If you’re reading this piece, it is likely that you are either already an ITIL initiate, or interested in becoming one, right?  The latest edition / release of ITIL (2011) is not only more comprehensive than ever, great care has also been put forth to ensure that it is the most organized and coherent as well.  For instance, the release of ITIL 2011 has marked the establishment of consistent terminology across multiple volumes.  This latest ITIL release is arguably the most readable and study-friendly of any previous release, and should make attaining certification a much more streamlined process.

Why should you certify in ITIL?  
In spite of world’s economic and employment troubles, the IT job market is fairly untouched and quite healthy.  While this is good news right now, it also means that more and more individuals are going to be pursuing careers in IT as well.  Regardless of whether or not these incoming candidates have experience in ITIL, you need it to “differentiate yourself from the pack”, so to speak.

Likewise, employers are turning to ITIL in droves to aid in providing solutions to tech-related business problems and servicing long term goals.  Additionally, many organizations see ITIL as an excellent system for measuring and maintaining a sensible cost-to-profit ratio.  Aside from remaining relevant and absorbing the best methodologies for use in servicing IT infrastructure, ITIL is also a gateway to an even greater understanding of one’s duties within any IT department.

If you want to get certified in ITIL 2011, click here for one the top e-learning programs around.