Copyright Policy V3

Version 3, 12/18/98


1.1 The World
1.2. Serving Readers' and Authors' Interests 
1.3. Principles
1.4 Objectives of this Policy

2.1 Requirement for Copyright 
2.2 Copyright Notice 
2.3 Permissions 
2.4 Definitive Versions and Revisions 
2.5 Maintaining Copyrighted Works outside the ACM Digital Library 
2.6 Computing Research Repository (CoRR)
2.7 Fixity of Works 
2.8 Interpretation of Coverage

3.1 Author Retained Rights 
Proprietary Rights
Employer distributions
3.2 Author's 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 moving its publication operations from paper-only to electronic distribution from a structured database. With this copyright policy, ACM aligns itself with author and reader practices in the world-wide Internet and becomes the first scientific publisher to adopt copyright policies for cyberspace.

1.1 The World

By the end of the decade, we envisage a world of scientific and technical publishing with four main characteristics. (1) The entire technical literature of a field---reviewed research papers, professionally-edited articles, multimedia objects, community commentary, tutorials, and other relevant works---will be stored in a Digital Library. The Digital Library will be a network of databases offering services for browsing, searching, extracting, personalizing, advising, and repackaging. Simple pricing schemes will be used to collect nominal fees for various services. The Library will inform subscribers when new material of interest to them has been published. (2) Works and amendments will be stored definitively on servers warranted, maintained, and preserved by publishers as a service to authors and readers. Works may evolve as authors and editors agree on changes. (3) Research works will be widely circulated via repositories, which may be encompassed by search processes of the Digital Library. Authors may submit works from a repository for formal review and later publication in the Digital Library. (4) 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 prototype documents containing links.

1.2 Serving Readers' and Authors' Interests

ACM has the following goals in holding copyright on behalf of the community of readers and authors.

  • Open circulation in diverse media, including continuous access through ACM's Digital Library.
  • Migration to new technologies as they are recognized.
  • Consistent and dependable citations to archival ACM works.
  • Indexing and abstracting of works in various media.
  • Published debate and rebuttal on issues of controversy.
  • Ongoing educational and research reuse.
  • Liberal permission for classroom use.
  • Prompt permissions for other reuse.
  • Continuing assurance of the integrity and validity of a work in a curatorial sense.
  • Worldwide legal protection of the integrity and validity of the Digital Library against unlawful conversion and distortion.
  • Assurance of access to hard-copy interlibrary loan.
  • Development of value-added derivatives of the Digital Library.
  • Return of any net revenues directly to the computing community through other ACM projects.
  • Oversight of copyrights by community representatives organized under the constitution and bylaws of ACM.
  • Professional management of the procedures implementing publishing policy.

1.3 Principles

This policy is based on five principles.

(1) 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 assure they meet ACM's high standards for quality and reliability.

(2) Integrity and stability of works existing in multiple versions. ACM will maintain the definitive versions indefinitely and give unlimited permission to establish links to those versions. Authors will link their versions to the definitive version in the ACM Digital Library and maintain copyright notices. The figure to the left illustrates a method of tracking the versions.

(3) Transcopyright permission for electronic dissemination. ACM incorporates a principle similar to one Ted Nelson called "transcopyright&quot. 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 may browse abstracts of the work, but for full access to the work may be asked to pay a fee or present a valid authorization certificate to ACM or ACM's agent. A person holding a copy may not replicate that copy or send it to others unless the copy carries explicit permission for further replication or dissemination. The figure to the right illustrates some of these concepts.

(4) 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.

(5) Reader- and Author-friendliness. ACM intends to act in the best interests of its authors in reaching the widest possible readership in contemporary media. ACM will act as curator presenting and preserving their works: ACM will publish promptly after acceptance, will maintain access to the published copy by digital media, will actively market and promote the Digital Library, and will provide hard copy to those who need it. ACM undertakes legal protection of copyrighted works and will take appropriate steps to expose and prevent plagiarism and other improper use; ACM will do this regardless of authors' abilities (e.g., physical, financial) to protect their own works. (In many parts of the world copyright laws can be invoked for protection only by the copyright owner.) ACM's liberal fair-use policies assure ongoing worldwide educational use without an administrative burden to authors. ACM grants authors liberal retained rights, including unlimited reuse of the work and rights to maintain their author-versions on a personal or employer's server. (Important: see also Â§2.6.)

1.4 Objectives of this Policy

ACM asks authors to transfer copyright before publishing a work. ACM leaves many important rights with the author, transferring the rights needed to guarantee the work's integrity and to assure its perpetual access for future readers.

This policy sets forth 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 biennially, 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 their copyrights to ACM as a condition of publishing the work. Such transfer will apply to any medium used by ACM. This requirement may be waived for materials that have not been reviewed or refereed. (See Â§4.3.) Immediately after the copyright transfer, authors should incorporate the ACM copyright notice and ACM citation of the publication into copies they maintain on non-ACM servers.

An author who embeds an object, such as an art image, that is 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 in any medium. The author's copyright transfer applies only to the 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 embeds only a link to the copyright holder's definitive version of the object.

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 tract, a table, or a figure, must obtain explicit permission of ACM. (See also Â§2.3.)

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 [email protected].

2.3 Permissions

A person granted permission to copy an ACM work should display with the copy (1) the notice "© 199x ACM, Inc., Included here by permission" and (2) 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 [email protected] for requests for permissions and releases under this policy.

As a matter of professional courtesy, ACM always consults the author (for jointly authored works the first author) in weighing requests from third parties for permission to republish.

2.4 Definitive Versions and Revisions

ACM will create and maintain a definitive version of ACM-copyrighted works. ACM will create conventions for citations to specific versions. ACM will embed a contemporary self-citation into each definitive version.

(ACM maintains bibliographic-reference Web pages for most articles published in its Digital Library. These pages, free and open to the public, contain the article's bibliographic citation, abstract, indexing data, reviews, and links to the definitive version. The URL for such a page, when available, is the proper link to a work in the Digital Library.)

As part of their retained rights, authors may revise their ACM-copyrighted work and post the new version on non-ACM servers (personal, employer, or CoRR.) If the new version 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 ACM's definitive version. (See also Â§3.2.)

2.5 Maintaining Copyrighted Works outside the ACM Digital Library

Authors may post an author-version of their own ACM-copyrighted work on a personal server or on a server belonging to their employer, but they may not post a copy of the definitive version that they downloaded from ACM's Digital Library. (See also Â§2.6 regarding the CoRR experiment.)

An author-posted copy must include the four items listed in Section 3.1 which grants the right to post it. (See Â§3.2 and Â§5.3.)

2.6 Computing Research Repository (CoRR)

Contemporaneous with this 1998 revision of copyright policy, ACM's Publication Board has approved a two-year experiment under Section 4.5 allowing authors to maintain their own author-versions of ACM-copyrighted research papers and reports on the ACM-sponsored Computing Research Repository (CoRR) at <>. The purpose of this experiment is to allow ACM to assess impacts of free access to research works on its business models for serving the research community. Through December 31, 2000, authors may place in CoRR their own author-versions of accepted papers and minor revisions, as well as preprints and major revisions. Appropriate citations and links to ACM's definitive copies must be included. (See Â§1.3.2§2.5, and§3.2.)

While authorization to post on CoRR will expire on December 31, 2000, the Board expects to evaluate the experiment before then and to decide, perhaps, to extend it or to make some of its provisions permanent. In any case, copyrighted material placed in CoRR during the period of the experiment may remain.

Works solicited by ACM (See Â§4.4.) may not be posted in CoRR without permission of the editor.

Not all ACM subunits (e.g., SIGs and chapters) have had the opportunity to endorse (or will endorse) advance circulation via CoRR of research papers submitted to publications they produce or servers they manage. Any unit that restricts works it accepts from inclusion in CoRR will notify authors appropriately. Authors should contact program chairs regarding calls issued before January 31, 1999. The default is that authors can post their versions in CoRR.

2.7 Fixity of Works

ACM subscribes to the convention that published works may not be altered. There may be times, however, when it is appropriate to publish a new, revised version of a work; doing so requires the approval of the responsible editor.

Electronic media provide means whereby readers can attach comments to an author's work and the author can respond. ACM encourages this exchange and intends eventually to support commentary services in the ACM Digital Library. ACM considers that all reader and author comments formally attached to a work become part of the public discussion and should not be altered 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.

2.8 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 holders (authors or authors' employer) retain:

  • 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 their own author-versions of preprints and revisions, including versions covered by ACM copyright but not versions downloaded from the ACM Digital Library, in a personal collection on their own or their employer's server. Such copies must be limited to noncommercial distributions and personal use by others and must include (1) the ACM copyright notice, (2) a full citation (in standard bibliographic style) to the ACM publication, (3) a hot link (or citation) to the definitive copy in ACM's Digital Library, and (4) a notice that the copy is posted by permission of ACM and may not be redistributed. (See Â§2.5§2.6 regarding CoRR, and Â§3.2.)
  • the right of an employer that originally owned copyright to distribute copies of works of its author-employees within its organization.

3.2 Author's 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 all author-versions of the work, maintained by the author as well as a link to the ACM definitive version. All versions copyrighted by ACM should bear the ACM copyright notice and should state any restrictions on redistribution of ACM-copyrighted versions; the first figure of this document illustrates.


4.1 Open Notice of Submission for Publication

An author who submits a work for consideration by a publisher should include this notice on author-versions posted on any 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.

Following general practice in science and technology publishing, 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

Edited collections such as conference proceedings and newsletters are copyrighted as a whole by ACM. In some cases, such as conference proceedings, the individual components are also copyrighted by ACM. In other cases, notably newsletters, copyrights of some components will be retained by authors. In the latter case, ACM will obtain a license from each author that permits publication in both print and online forms, and also grants ACM the right to transform the article into any formats as necessary for use within the ACM Digital Library.

No ACM-copyrighted collection may be posted for open distribution without prior permission from ACM or before it has been included in the ACM Digital Library. Approved distributions must include a notice of this permission along with the ACM copyright notice. Free access may be granted to conference attendees and other appropriate groups of ACM members provided that an authentication mechanism is used.

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, distribution, and related services provided that the experiments conform with all the policies stated here, and that prior notice and description are given to the ACM Director of Publications. Experiments that include posting of articles on the Web should be coordinated with ACM Publications, so that the results can be easily incorporated into the ACM Digital Library. Quarterly progress reports should be sent to the ACM Director of Publications for the duration of the experiment. Individual experimental services will cease operation as soon as comparable capabilities are provided by the ACM Digital Library.

An example is the permission temporarily granted for the Computing Research Repository under Section 2.6.


5.1 Access Licenses

ACM will offer all ACM members in good standing access to the ACM Digital Library and its basic services at an additional price not to exceed that 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 an identifier 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 its copyrighted works in the ACM Digital Library 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 also Â§2.1 and Â§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 author-versions 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-held 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 via links.

Service providers do not need to obtain prior permission from ACM to locate and dispense links to the ACM-held 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 and their employers who have transferred copyright to ACM may post author-versions of their preprints and revisions as specified in Sections 2.53.1, and 3.2.

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, unless further permission has been granted by ACM.

5.4 Production of Digitized Copies

Persons who have permission under these policies to make copies may elect to digitize a print copy and to 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

A school, college, or university or other educational organization that has a license to an ACM-copyrighted work (See Â§5.1.) may place a single copy of a definitive version in its library's electronic reserves for the duration of its educational needs for that work, provided that access is limited to its enrolled students, faculty, and staff.

Anyone manufacturing coursepacks commercially must pay a fee to include ACM-copyrighted materials. This can be covered through blanket licenses with theCopyright 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. 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: 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 will differ from an accepted version because it may have been edited by ACM, and because it will contain the full citation and ACM copyright notice. A given work, such as a dynamic book, may evolve through many definitive versions as authors and editors approve and incorporate further changes. Definitive versions will be protected from unauthorized alteration.

Author-version of work: An author-version of a work, whether copyrighted by the author or ACM, is prepared and maintained by its author. It reflects the author's creative contributions, but it may not reflect refinements from ACM's production process. There may be several author-versions including preprint versions, revisions, and the version ultimately accepted for inclusion in the Digital Library, whose copyright is transferred to ACM in the process. The term excludes any version downloaded from the ACM Digital Library.

Revisions: major vs. minor: A major revision of a work entails a revision of at least 25% of the original work.

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 intended for further replication unless the copyright holder gives explicit permission.

Edited: a collection of works that 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: An identifier 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. (See§5.2.)

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 computers.

Computing Research Repository (CoRR). A database service used by authors of research papers and reports for immediate public access and comment. Repository papers are typically unreviewed. ACM is a co-sponsor the Computing Research Repository (CoRR) <> . (See Â§2.6.)

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.