Copyrigh Policy V2

Version 2 — Issued by ACM Publications Board 11/15/95




2.1 Requirement for Copyright 
2.2 Copyright Notice 
2.3 Permissions 
2.4 Interim Permission to Maintain Definitive Works 
2.5 Definitive Versions and Revisions
2.6 Fixity of Works 
2.7 Interpretation of Coverage 


3.1 Author Retained Rights 
3.2 Author Personal Versions 


4.1 Open Notice of Submission for Publication 
4.2 Republication 
4.3 Edited Collections 
4.4 Solicited Works 
4.5 Electronic Publication Experiments 


5.1 Access Licenses 
5.2 Links 
5.3 Distributions From non-ACM Servers
5.4 Production of Digitized Copies 
5.5 Electronic Reserves and Coursepacks 




Since 1994, ACM has been preparing to shift all its publication operations from paper-only to electronic distribution from a structured database. The first-phase computer system to support this will begin receiving author manuscripts in early 1996 and will store them in SGML format from which printed versions and electronic versions can be generated. ACM is doing this to accommodate shifts in author and reader practices that are emerging in the world-wide Internet. With this copyright policy, ACM aligns itself with those practices and becomes the first scientific publisher to adopt copyright policies for cyberspace.

By the end of the decade, we envisage a world of scientific and technical publishing with three main characteristics. First, the entire technical literature of a field will be stored in a digital library, a network of databases offering new kinds of services such as browsing, searching, extracting, and repackaging; simple pricing schemes will be used to collect nominal fees from those who have not subscribed to the database services; the library will inform subscribers when new material of interest to them has been posted. Second, works will be stored definitively on servers warranted and maintained by copyright holders as a service to authors and readers. Works may evolve as authors and editors agree on changes. Third, copyright permissions policies will be adapted to the realities of electronic dissemination by encouraging unlimited use of hypertext links, leaving the payment of any fees to on-the-fly negotiation between reader and copyright holder, and permitting virtual publications in which individuals assemble readable views of documents from protoype documents containing links.

This policy is based on five principles.

Publishing works of quality. ACM intends to retain its reputation as a publisher of materials worth reading. ACM will review or edit all submitted or solicited items to certify that they meet ACM's high standards for quality and reliability.

Maintaining integrity of works by ACM authors. ACM will warrant that the copies of works in its digital library are definitive: that they have not been modified or altered without author and editor permission. ACM will be able to provide proof of these warrants. ACM will store the definitive versions and give unlimited permission to copy links to those versions. The figure below illustrates the relationships between author versions and the definitive version. 


Transcopyright permission for electronic dissemination. ACM incorporates a principle similar to one named "transcopyright" by Ted Nelson. ACM will hold its copyrighted works on its servers and will give free and unlimited permission to create and copy links to those works or their components. So that readers can locate the context from which an excerpt was drawn, ACM will provide a way of linking a component to its parent work. Readers following links will gain access upon payment of a fee or presentation of a valid authorization certificate to ACM or ACM's agent; ACM or its agent will issue a personalized certificate of ownership to that reader. A person owning a copy may not replicate that copy and give it to others unless the copy carries explicit permission for further replication. The figure below suggests some of these concepts and their relationships. 

Author-friendliness. ACM intends to be the author's agent in reaching the widest possible readerhip and protecting the author's interests against plagiarism and unauthorized copying or attribution of an author's work. The ACM grants authors liberal retained rights including unlimited reuse of the work with citation of the ACM publication and the right to post preprints and revisions on a personal server. ACM will take legal action against those who infringe its copyrights.

Emphasis on value-added services. ACM is a member organization chartered to disseminate information about computing broadly to its members and to the public. ACM will assist readers to locate materials of value to them. ACM treats copyright ownership as a means to allow it to provide a digital library to its members and the public and to act against anyone attempting to duplicate ACM's library; ACM does not treat copyright permissions as a significant source of revenue.

These new policies clarify the liberal conditions under which ACM grants permission for copying or distribution, and the conditions under which ACM requires prior permission and/or a fee. A glossary of the principal terms is included at the end.

This statement of policies is marked as "interim" because the Publications Board expects to learn from experience how effective the various provisions are. The Board will conduct a review of these policies annually, revising them as needed to deal with new circumstances and to accommodate innovations. This document supersedes all previous statements of ACM copyright policies.



ACM asks authors to assign copyright to ACM as a condition of publishing the work with ACM. This requirement may be waived for materials that have not been reviewed or refereed. Immediately after the copyright transfer, authors should incorporate the ACM copyright notice into their personal copies.

Authors of new works who wish to embed a copy of (not just a link to) a component of an ACM copyrighted work, e.g., a table or a figure, must obtain explicit permission of ACM. (See also Section 2.3.)

An author who embeds an object, such as an art image, copyrighted by a third party is expected to obtain that party's permission to include the object with the understanding that the entire work may be distributed as a unit to ACM members and to others in any medium. The copyright transfer applies only to the author's work as a whole, and not to the third party's embedded object. The requirement to obtain third-party permission does not apply if the author places only a link to the copyright holder's definitive version of the object.

The ACM copyright notice must be displayed on the first page or initial screen of a display of all works copyrighted by ACM, whether those works are published in print or in a digital medium. It is acceptable to place the string "© Copyright 199x by ACM, Inc." as a hypertext link to the full copyright notice.

ACM Copyright Notice

Copyright © 199x by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Publications Dept, ACM Inc., fax +1 (212) 869-0481, or

2.3 Permissions

A person granted permission to copy an ACM work should display with the copy (a) the notice "Included here by permission, © ACM, Inc." and (b) a link or citation to ACM's definitive version. The link or citation will enable a reader to access the context in which the copied material originally appeared. Full copies of the work should also include the full copyright notice, which will normally be a part of the work anyway.

ACM publications staff will monitor for requests for permissions and releases under this policy.

2.4 Interim Permission to Maintain Definitive Works

Until the ACM database is operational, authors are granted permission to maintain one copy of the ACM definitive version, for which they have transferred copyright to ACM, on a non-ACM server.

2.5 Definitive Versions and Revisions

ACM will create and maintain a definitive version of every copyrighted work. Definitive means that ACM certifies that this is the work approved by the author and editor and has not been changed since the last version. The definitive version may differ from an accepted version because it has been edited by ACM. A given work, such as a dynamic book, may evolve through several definitive versions as authors and editors approve and incorporate changes. ACM will create conventions for citations to specific versions.

As part of their retained rights, authors may make changes to their ACM copyrighted work and post the changed version on a non-ACM server. If the changed work differs by 25% or more from the copyrighted version, it is treated as a new work not copyrighted by ACM; otherwise it is treated as a revision and is still copyrighted by ACM. A revision should be marked as such and should include a citation and link to the definitive version. (See also Section 3.2.)

ACM asks that authors exclude from their personal collections copies of the definitive versions maintained by ACM, using instead links to the definitive versions. (See also Section 3.2.)

2.6 Fixity of Works

The electronic media provide means whereby readers can attach comments to an author's work and the author can respond. The ACM wishes to encourage this and intends eventually to support this as a service in the ACM digital library.

ACM subscribes to the general scientific convention that published works not be altered without review and approval by an editor. ACM also considers that all reader and author comments formally attached to a work are part of the public discussion and should not be altered by their authors without approval by an editor. If the author or a reader wishes to withdraw a comment after posting, the withdrawn item will be replaced in the public record by a withdrawal notice; ACM will retain a private copy of the withdrawn item.

2.7 Interpretation of Coverage

ACM has a long-standing policy that the copyright transfer statement grants ACM the right "to publish the work in whole or in part in any and all media." ACM has always interpreted this policy to include digital media, digitized copies of previous print versions, performance and display by reading, and digital transmission of files containing the copyright works. ACM hereby reaffirms this interpretation.



3.1 Author Retained Rights

As part of a copyright transfer to ACM, the original copyright holder (author or author's employer) retains:

  • all other proprietary rights to the work such as patent,
  • the right to reuse any portion of the work, without fee, in future works of the author's own, provided that the ACM citation and notice of the ACM copyright are included, and
  • the right to post personal copies of preprints or revisions in a personal collection on a non-ACM server; these copies must be limited to noncommercial distributions and personal use by others, the ACM copyright notice must be attached, and the server must display a general policy notice about the presence of copyright works it contains.

3.2 Author Personal Versions

A link to the author's "personal copy of paper" should take a reader to a page in the author's personal collection containing links to the ACM definitive version and to any other versions, such as preprints and revisions, maintained by the author. All the versions beginning with the one accepted for publication by ACM should bear the ACM copyright notice. Until the ACM offers its digital library service, authors may also store the definitive version on the same server. The first figure shown in this document illustrates.


4.1 Open Notice of Submission for Publication

An author who submits a work for consideration by an ACM editor should include this notice on any personal copies posted on servers:

This work has been submitted for publication. Copyright may be transferred without further notice and the accepted version may then be posted by the publisher.

ACM and other publishers have a policy that authors submit a work for consideration for publication by only one editor at a time. Authors must notify editors if a work is identical or substantially the same as another work submitted or accepted for publication.

4.2 Republication

ACM maintains its policy of not republishing works, whether copyrighted by ACM or by others, except under limited conditions where an editor determines there is significant benefit in republication.

4.3 Edited Collections

In most cases of conference proceedings, newsletters, and other edited collections, the collection as a whole and all its components will be copyrighted by ACM solely or jointly with other organizations. In some cases, notably newsletters, the collection will be copyrighted but copyrights of some components will be retained by authors.

No collection in which ACM is the sole or joint copyright holder may be posted for open distribution without prior permission from ACM. Notice of permission must accompany the ACM copyright notice. Free access may be granted to conference attendees and appropriate groups of ACM members provided an authentication mechanism is in place.

4.4 Solicited Works

From time to time, ACM solicits works for publication. Examples are columns, invited articles, award lectures, and keynote speeches. ACM asks authors of such works not to distribute copies or post these works until ACM has published them. Authors who wish to circulate before publication should get permission from ACM. ACM considers lectures and speeches to be published at the time they are given.

4.5 Electronic Publication Experiments

SIGs and other units of ACM are encouraged to conduct experiments in electronic publication and distribution provided that the experiments conform with all the policies stated here and prior notice and description are given to the ACM Director of Publications. Quarterly progress reports should be sent to the ACM Director of Publications for the duration of the experiment.


5.1 Access Licenses

ACM will provide all ACM members in good standing with a license to access the ACM database and its basic services as part of the regular membership package.

ACM will offer licenses to others for access to ACM publications databases for purposes such as access, searching, extracting, or downloading. Licenses that allow print-on-demand may include a per-copy release fee.

Institutional members of ACM may obtain licenses to download items from ACM databases for internal redistribution upon certifying they have authentication services capable of limiting redistribution to their members.

ACM will also offer limited-time access licenses to nonmembers. Such licenses can be used as promotions for ACM membership as well as allowing someone an opportunity to use ACM published works for a limited time.

A link is a string that, when interpreted by an appropriate program, will reference an object and make a copy accessible locally. Examples are hypertext links, URLs (uniform resource locators on the World-Wide Web), and document handles. ACM treats links as citations (references to objects) rather than as incorporations (embeddings of objects).

Permission to access, and payment of applicable fees, are matters of negotiation between a reader who exercises a link and the rights-holder for the referenced object. ACM encourages the widespread distribution of links to the definitive versions of ACM copyrighted works and does not require that authors obtain prior permission to include such links in their new works.

If an author wishes to embed a copyrighted object rather than a link in a new work, that author needs to obtain the copyright holder's permission. (See alsoSection 2.3.)

Someone who creates a work whose pattern of links substantially duplicates a copyrighted work should get prior permission from the copyright holder. For example, the creator of "A Table of Contents for the Current Issue of TODS" -- consisting of citations and active links to authors' personal copies of the articles in the latest issue of TODS -- needs ACM permission because that creator is reproducing an ACM copyrighted work. If all the links in the "Table of Contents" pointed to the ACM definitive versions, ACM would normally give permission because then the new work advertises an ACM work. To avoid misunderstandings, consult with ACM before duplicating an ACM work with links.

Service providers do not need to obtain prior permission from ACM to locate and dispense links to the ACM definitive versions of works, but they do need permission if they are making, collecting, or distributing copies of ACM copyrighted works.

ACM intends to offer receipts of ownership to those who obtain authorized digital copies of ACM works so that they may certify the validity of their copies. ACM intends also to make available links to components of its published works (e.g., tables and figures). These links will allow the components to be accessed in their original contexts.

5.3 Distributions From non-ACM Servers

Individuals often distribute copies of works authored by themselves or by others. Distribution may consist of sending copies to a mailing list or of posting a copy on a server where it is accessible to others who might copy it. Electronic distributions and postings of ACM copyrighted works are acts of copying and may require ACM permission.

Authors who have transferred copyright to ACM may post copies of preprints and revisions in their personal collections as specified in Section 3.2. With ACM permission, their employers may offer a copy of the definitive version for use within the organization.

Anyone who legitimately obtains a copy of an ACM copyrighted work may use the copy only for non-commercial classroom or personal use, as specified in the ACM copyright notice.

If ACM copyrighted works are maintained and distributed from non-ACM servers, ACM requires that the server prominently display a general notice alerting browsers to the presence of copyright materials. A sample of an acceptable notice is shown below.

Sample of Server Notice

The documents distributed by this server have been provided by the contributing authors as a means to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work on a noncommercial basis. Copyright and all rights therein are maintained by the authors or by other copyright holders, notwithstanding that they have offered their works here electronically. It is understood that all persons copying this information will adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. These works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.

5.4 Production of Digitized Copies

Persons who have permission under these policies to make copies may elect to digitize a print copy and distribute the digitized copy. Because digitizing processes such as OCR (optical character recognition) are error-prone, this disclaimer must be included with the ACM copyright notice on each digitized copy:

This is a digitized copy derived from an ACM copyrighted work. ACM did not prepare this copy and does not guarantee that is it an accurate copy of the author's original work.

5.5 Electronic Reserves and Coursepacks

Schools, colleges, and universities and other nonprofit educational organizations may place digital copies of ACM works in their library's electronic reserves for the duration of a course that uses those works.

Anyone manufacturing coursepacks commercially must pay a fee to include ACM copyrighted materials. This can be covered through blanket licenses with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) or directly from ACM.


Some of the words in this policy have specific meanings in ACM's domain. The meanings intended herein are recorded follows:

Work: A document, file, manuscript, or other information object, in any form, that is an expression by an author protected under copyright law. Works will be stored in the ACM database (normally in the SGML format). Browsers and viewers make local copies that are rendered for display; these copies are considered personal copies of the person using the browser.

Definitive version of work: a version that has been accepted by an editor after review, which may have been professionally edited, and which contains the full citation and ACM copyright notice. The definitive version is generally different from the version accepted by the editor. A work may evolve through a sequence of definitive version as authors and editors agree on further changes. Definitive versions will be protected from unauthorized alteration.

Personal Copy, Author: A work maintained by the author. There may be several versions including the preprint version, accepted version, and revised version(s). The definitive version is not considered part of the author's personal version-set and is maintained by ACM.

Personal Copy, Reader: A version constructed by a reader that has replaced links with their referenced objects after negotiation with the copyright holder; or a printed copy of this version. It is not is not intended for further replication unless the copyright holder gives explicit permission.

Edited: a collection of works have been selected by an editor and possibly edited for style and length.

Reviewed: one or more experts have examined the work and have given assessments to an editor about clarity, soundness, novelty, prior publication, proper citations, and other criteria.

Formally reviewed: A thorough review with emphasis on clarity, accessibility to the general reader, and timeliness. Persons serving as formal reviewers are independent of the editors who request their advice.

Refereed: A thorough review with emphasis on novelty and soundness. A journal refereeing process seeks to advise the editor whether to reject or provide specific guidance for revisions. A conference refereeing process seeks to advise the editor whether to accept or reject; a strict deadline is enforced. Persons serving as referees are independent of the editors who request their advice.

Journal, Transactions: generic names given to ACM refereed periodical publications.

Communications, Surveys, Interactions, StandardView: four ACM formally reviewed periodical publications.

Proceedings: the reviewed or refereed record of a conference.

Newsletters, Bulletins: edited and/or reviewed periodic publications that inform members of groups about relevant news.

Link: A character string that denotes a work stored at a remote location in a network; the link is associated with a protocol for retrieving a copy of the item denoted by the character string. Invoking or exercising a link means to call a function in the protocol that fetches a copy of the work into the local computer.

Server: a computer in a network that stores files and databases of works and provides means to access and copy those works to other computers.

ACM database or digital library: the entire collection of ACM copyright works and associated services. It may be stored on one or more machines.


ACM Copyright Policy

ACM Copyright Policy Versions
Version 9, 1/12/16 Version 8 , 4/2/11
Version 7 , 10/5/11 Version 6 , 1/27/11
Version 5 , 3/31/09 Version 4 , 11/1/02
Version 3 , 11/15/98 Version 2 , 11/15/95
Version 1 , 12/1/94  


© 1994, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2009, 2011, 2013 by ACM, Inc. Permission to copy and distribute this document is hereby granted provided that this notice is retained on all copies, that copies are not altered, and that ACM is credited when the material is used to form other copyright policies.