Publication Rights & Licensing Policy

Updated on January 1, 2023

Introduction

ACM embraces a not-for-profit business model that aims to assure sustainable revenue for the continued operation and enhancement of the ACM Publications Program and the ACM Digital Library, while making ACM Publications available to the widest possible global audience of computing professionals and students.

For over half a century, ACM has requested that authors transfer copyright of their articles, so that ACM could act as a steward of their published work, manage the publication process, respond to requests related to third-party rights and permissions, and defend their published Works against misconduct such as plagiarism or copyright infringement. Since that time, ACM's copyright and permissions policies have been widely used as a model by other scholarly publishers in adapting their own policies to the ever-changing realities of electronic dissemination and open access publication.

Over the years, ACM has made regular updates to its copyright policy, which is now in its 10th iteration, to ensure we are acting in the best interest of our authors and the global computing community, such as we did in 2013 when ACM introduced Exclusive, Non-exclusive, and Creative Commons licensing options as part of our ACM eRights process for authors. Many of these changes were done to support our authors with options enabling them to comply with government open science mandates around the world and to retain the underlying intellectual property of their Work.

Today, every ACM author of a scholarly Work accepted by an ACM Publication has the option of retaining the copyright of their Work and granting ACM a license to publish that Work in the ACM Digital Library. For Corresponding Authors affiliated with ACM Open participating institutions or Corresponding Authors not affiliated with an ACM Open institution, but who are willing to pay a reasonably priced Article Processing Charge (APC), there is an additional option to select an appropriate Creative Commons license to facilitate sharing and reuse of their Works, so the community may build on their Work without the need to obtain additional permissions from ACM or the Author, provided proper attribution is given.

As ACM continues to transition its entire scholarly Publication program to an Open Access model, the use of Creative Commons licensing is becoming more prevalent. In fact, many of the large government Open Science mandates around the world require the use of a Creative Commons or equivalent license when research grant recipients publish Work funded by those governments. Many private research funders are following suit (i.e. - Gates Foundation, Welcome Trust, etc.).

With its stated goal of sustainably transitioning to a fully Open Access Publisher around the end of 2025 and in response to calls for greater copyright retention and intellectual property ownership by ACM's authorship, ACM is now taking the most significant step forward since the creation of its Copyright Policy in 1994 by effectively sensetting the existing Copyright Policy and replacing it with this new Publication Rights and Licensing Policy. ACM will continue to register and hold copyright and other intellectual property rights of ACM Journals, Magazines, Conference Proceedings, Newsletters, Books, and other ACM Publications, but after January 1, 2023 ACM will no longer hold copyright in any of the newly published articles in ACM Publications. 

What is Changing?

ACM will continue to require authors to assign publication rights to ACM as a condition of publishing the work. This is necessary to protect both ACM's authors and ACM against infringement and misconduct by third parties.

During the June 2022 meeting of the ACM Publications Board, the Board took perhaps the most significant "copyright-related" step taken in its history by voting to end the “Copyright Transfer” option starting January 1, 2023. After January 1, 2023, when authors’ Works are accepted into any of ACM’s Publications and enter the ACM Rights System via the link in their Acceptance Email, the "Corresponding Author” will no longer be given the option (currently listed as the 3rd of 3 options) of transfering copyright to ACM. For published Works prior to that date where copyright has been transferred by the Author to ACM, ACM will continue to be the copyright holder for such Works.

After January 1, 2023, there will be two remaining options, as follows:

  • Institutional Paid Open Access / Permissions Release - This is the Open Access option. Wording may vary slightly depending on whether the Corresponding Author is affiliated with an ACM Open participating institution or not. If not, they will be given the option to pay an Article Proceeding Charge (APC). This option is the default when the Corresponding Author is affiliated with an ACM Open participating institution. Authors selecting this option will retain all rights to their Work and agree to grant ACM a non-exclusive permission to publish their Work in the ACM Digital Library and have the additional option of displaying a Creative Commons license on the published version of their Work in the ACM Digital Library. 
  • Closed Access / Exclusive License to Publish - This is the Closed Access option. Authors selecting this option will retain all rights to their Work and grant ACM an exclusive license to publish their Work in the ACM Digital Library. 

Creative Commons Licensing Options

If the Corresponding Author of a Work accepted into an ACM Publication is either affiliated with an ACM Open participating institution or has decided to pay the Open Access Article Processing Charge (APC), the Corresponding Author will be given the additional option of applying a Creative Common license to govern how their Work may be shared and reused. Most US and European funding agencies prefer the use of the CC-BY 4.0 License, although authors should check with their specific funder to learn if their funder has any firm requirements on the version of Creative Commons license they must use as part of the publishing process.

The current ACM Policy is to allow authors the option of selecting their preferred version.  ACM currently offers 6 Creative Commons license options, including:

  • CC-BY 4.0 License - This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.
  • CC-BY 4.0-SA - This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.
  • CC-BY 4.0-NC - This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 
  • CC-BY 4.0-NC-SA - This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms. 
  • CC-BY 4.0-ND - This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. 
  • CC-BY 4.0-NC-ND - This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. 

Creative Common Zero (CC-0) License

There is one additional CC License that ACM Authors may apply to their research artifacts (i.e. - data, code, etc.) called CC-0. CC-O allows creators to give up their copyright and put their Works in the worldwide public domain. CC-0 is no longer offered in the ACM Rights system for ACM Publications, because it places the Work in the public domain and is irreversible, which could create problems for the author and ACM as the Publisher in the future. However, when ACM Authors are depositing their research artifacts either in the ACM DL or a third-party site such as GITHUB, some authors may wish to assign a CC-0 license to those research artifacts. ACM cautions the use of CC-0 unless the author has given significant consideration to this and would like to give away their copyright and allow unrestricted use of their research artifacts to the public. When ACM Authors choose to apply a CC-0 license to their research artifacts, they should indicate this alongside the artifact(s) wherever that artifact is hosted inside or outside the ACM Digital Library.

Defending Authors Against Misconduct

One of the major changes with the removal of the copyright transfer option is that regardless of which option the Author selects, ACM commits to defending their published Work in the ACM Digital Library against infringement and misconduct without the requirement to hold copyright on the published Work. In practice, ACM has been doing this for years, but is formalizing this commitment in this new Policy. When an ACM Author agrees to have ACM serve as the Publisher of Record for their accepted Work, protecting that Work against various forms of infringement and misconduct by third parties is one of the services ACM commits to provide to the Author. In return, ACM Authors agree to abide by all of ACMs Publications Policies and cooperate with ACM staff, volunteers, and advisers in their investigations and process to adjudicate allegations of infringement and misconduct.

Requirement to Grant ACM Exclusive or Non-Exclusive Publication Rights (applies to Journal, Conference, and Magazine articles)

ACM requires that authors have the authority to grant publication rights to ACM or that they obtain the necessary authorization to execute the grant of publication rights and that they complete ACM's Rights Management Process as a pre-condition for publishing their Work with ACM. Such grant applies to any medium used by ACM for publication (i.e.- print, online, etc.). If Authors are uncertain about their having the authority to grant these rights as a result of their employer's intellectual property rights requirements or working for a government employer with specific requirements, they should always check with their employer before completing ACM's Rights Assignment process. Authors should also take note of the following:

  • Authors should incorporate the appropriate Copyright or License notice and ACM citation of the publication into copies they personally maintain on non-ACM servers.
  • The author's grant of publication rights applies only to the Work as a whole, and not to any embedded objects owned by third parties. An author who embeds an object, such as an art image that is copyrighted by a third party, must 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 requirement to obtain third-party permission does not apply if the author embeds only a link to the copyright holder's object. Other requirements for third-party permissions can be found below under the section called 3rd Party Permissions. 
  • Authors who wish to embed a component of another ACM-copyrighted or licensed work, e.g., an excerpt, a table, or a figure, must obtain an explicit permission (there is no fee) from ACM.

Requirements for ACM Books Authors

Unlike other types of ACM Publications listed above, ACM Books authors shall continue to be given the option of signing either a Copyright Transfer & Publishing Agreement or Exclusive License to Publish Agreement. The reason for this is that there are fundamental differences in how books are published, marketed, sold, and distributed via the ACM Digital Library, 3rd party channels, and in print that relate primarily to commercial considerations, financial remuneration for ACM Books authors, and posting or self-archiving policies for ACM Books, which differs from ACM's general posting and self-archiving policy for journal, conference, and magazine authors. For more information, please see the Publishing Policies related to ACM Books authors.

Definitive Versions of Record, Official Publication Dates, and Corrections to the Version of Record

Preserving the scholarly record "as published" is a critical component of maintaining the community and public's trust in scientific publications in general and trust in ACM specifically. As a result, ACM is committed to the publication and long term digital preservation of published works in the ACM Digital Library and via several third-party digital preservations initiatives, including CLOCKS and Portico. ACM will create and maintain a definitive Version of Record (VoR) of all ACM published works and share these with our digital preservation providers. There are instances where VoRs are hidden in the ACM Digital Library for legal or public safety reasons, to comply with other ACM Publications Policies, such as in connection with the implementation of ACMs Name Change Policy, when Retractions are made, or when Corrected Versions of Record (CVoR) are added to ACM Digital Library citation pages when errata or corrigenda are created in connection with a published work. ACM will provide the reason for the Correction on the article's Digital Library citation page. ACM does not alter works once published. There are times, however, when it is appropriate to publish a revised or corrected version of a work; doing so requires the approval of the responsible editor. Please see ACM's Publications Policy on the Withdrawal, Correction, Retraction, and Removal of Works from ACM Publications and ACM DL

Persistent Unique Identifiers for Every ACM Article

The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is the scholarly publishing standard (ISO 26324) identifier for articles published by ACM in the ACM Digital Library. Every article in the ACM Digital Library shall have one and only one DOI.

The official publication date of an ACM published article will be considered the date on which the article’s official Version of Record (VoR) is published online in the ACM Digital Library, and the official VoR of an ACM article shall be the final peer reviewed, accepted, edited, tagged, and identified (using a DOI or other standardized identifier) definitive version that appears in ACM Publications (i.e. - journals, magazines, conference proceedings, newsletters, books, etc.) inside the ACM Digital Library.

For the avoidance of doubt, only the official VoR or in CVoR shall be considered the “Published” version of the Work for purposes of attribution, rights & permissions, prior art, investigations into potential ethics & plagiarism violations or other forms of infringement, and relevant open access embargo periods. If a new Work is substantially developed, i.e., it contains at least 25% new substantive material, it is considered a new Derivative Work or Major Revision. It is important to note that word counts are not an absolute measure, but rather a useful guid, and in general the author must use their discretion when determining if a new article is to be considered a new Derivative Work, a Minor Revision, or a Major Revision. The owner/author controls all rights in the new Work and may do as they wish with it. That said, it is commonly accepted practice that for new Derivative or Major Revision Works, the author should incorporate a citation to the previous work.

For example:

"This work is based on an earlier work: TITLE, in PUBLICATION, {VOL#, ISS#, (DATE)} © Author, {YEAR}. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/{number}"

If the work is a *Minor Revision, the copyright or exclusive publishing license remains with ACM and the Owner should use best efforts to display the ACM citation, 

"© {Owner/Author {YEAR}. This is a minor revision of the work published in PUBLICATION, {VOL#, ISS#, (DATE)} http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/{number}"

The appropriate notice should appear both within the document and in the metadata associated with the document. Instructions for how to do this will be found in the instructions for authors in ACM's various publications.

Solicited Works

From time to time, ACM solicits works for publication. Examples are columns, invited works, award lectures, and keynote speeches. ACM asks authors of such works not to distribute copies or post these works on their Home Pages 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.

PERMISSIONS

ACM grants gratis permission for individual digital or hard copies made without fee for use in academic classrooms and for use by individuals in personal research and study. Further reproduction or distribution requires explicit permission and possibly a fee.

ACM is now a signatory of the STM Permission Guidelines Initiative, which supports an approach to research based on common decency, respect, fairness and mutual trust. These Guidelines are built to allow Signatory STM Publishers to use limited amounts of material in other original published works without charge, and with a minimum of effort needed for permissions clearance. ACM joined the initiative in 2022 to lower the burden on authors to obtain third party permissions when authoring works for ACM and third party publishers.

All copies should carry the original citation, the appropriate copyright and notice of permission on the first page or initial screen of the document. (See §2.2 Copyright Notice.)

Most permission requests should go through ACM's automated rights system available in the ACM Digital Library and pointed to by permissions@acm.org. Requests that cannot be handled through the online system will take longer to resolve: requestors may expect a response to their inquiry within seven business days. 

Fair Use for Educational Purposes

Definition of classroom use: Copying and distributing single works by a university/college instructor, where no fee is charged to the students, and the distribution is limited to students enrolled in a university/college course and their instructors.

  • Course Material - Permission granted without fee if the course material is produced without charge to the student. (See Commercially produced Course Packs below.)

  • Electronic Reserves - Permission granted without fee provided the library or institution has an authentication mechanism for controlled access to the server and a license to the ACM-published work. A college, university or other accredited institution may place a copy of a definitive Version of Record of the work 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 (including those in its distance learning programs), faculty, and staff. Those institutions without a current license to the work should contact permissions@acm.org.

  • Distance Learning - Permission granted without fee for distance learning students enrolled at the institution. They have the same access rights to those ACM copyrighted materials licensed by their institution as any other student. Since institutional access is authenticated by IP address, it is up to the institution to provide a proxy server for its remote users, and to register the IP address of that proxy with ACM.

  • Interlibrary Loan (ILL) - Permission granted without fee for an institution with an ACM Digital Library license to download and print works for Interlibrary Loan. The Digital Library may be used as the source for the printed copy. The loan of the work is limited to printed copies, as part of normal library functions.

  • Walk-Ins - Permission granted without fee for access to all ACM publications, print or electronic, by all members of the community which a subscribing library is charted to serve.

  • Open Access / Creative Commons Material - Permission is granted without fee, provided proper attribution is given to the Author(s) and Publisher at the time of use.

Commercial Republication

Definition of commercial republication: Any use that is not personal or non-profit educational use. Includes reprinting by trade and scholarly publishers, and use in corporate settings and their web sites, both internal and external. No direct profit need be realized from the publication or sale of ACM material.

Commercial use normally requires a license and payment of release fees. All reproductions other than those listed in this document require specific permission and a fee payable to ACM. This includes republishing in textbooks, commercially-produced course packs sold to students, anthologies, and other edited publications, and posting or other electronic distributions, unless use is done in connection with the STM Permission Guidelines Initiative

  • Commercially Produced Course Packs - Use of copyrighted or licensed material in course packs sold to students requires an appropriate license. Send requests to permissions@acm.org or go to http://www.copyright.com.

  • Print permission - A grant of permission involves consultation with the lead author of the work, the publisher's agreement to pay the required fees, and prominent display of the proper credit acknowledgment.

  • Electronic permission - Rules for commercial distribution will apply unless the request falls under educational use as defined above. Fees for internal and external commercial posting of ACM published material are tied to the term of the license. All postings must include pointers to the correct Citation Page in the ACM Digital Library.

  • Multiple copies - Producing multiple copies of ACM copyrighted or licensed works for distribution to more than ten peers, co-workers, clients, etc. requires a transactional license from the CCC and payment of the required per copy fee Send requests to permissions@acm.org or go tohttp://www.copyright.com.

  • Software - Owners/Authors of software grant ACM a non-exclusive permission to publish and manage all rights and permissions themselves.

3rd Party Permissions

Lastly, another major change relating to how ACM handles rights and permissions is that ACM has adopted STM Permissions Guidelines, which simplifies the process for third parties (including researchers) to reuse ACM published content in new works under development. This is a broad-based publisher initiative that includes the vast majority of publishers in computing literature. Other signatories of these guidelines are listed here. It is our goal to simplify the process of publishing with ACM, and we welcome your feedback after the above steps have been implemented.

ACM publications staff will monitor requests for permission not handled by ACM's automated permissions system which is accessed via the ACM Digital Library. Persons granted permission to copy an ACM published work should display the appropriate Publication Notice followed by: "Included here by permission."

Edited Collections

Edited collections such as conference proceedings and newsletters are copyrighted as a whole by ACM. Going forward after January 1, 2023, authors will retain the copyright of individual components of those Works, such as articles, letters-to-the-editor, abbreviated works, etc. For these individual components, ACM will obtain either an exclusive or non-exclusive permission to publish (conveyed tacitly or by the ACM Permission Form) that permits publication in both print and online forms, and also grants ACM the right to transform the work into any formats as necessary for use within the ACM Digital Library or other media.

No ACM-copyrighted or exclusively licensed collection may be posted for open distribution without prior permission from ACM and before it has been included in the ACM Digital Library. Approved distributions must include a notice of this permission along with the copyright notice for the Work. 

ACM treats links as citations (references to objects) rather than as incorporations (embedding of objects). Permission is not needed to create links to citations in The ACM Digital Library or Online Guide to Computing Literature. ACM encourages the widespread distribution of links to the definitive Version of Records 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.

However, someone who creates a work or a service whose pattern of links substantially duplicates an ACM-copyrighted volume or issue should get prior permission from ACM. One 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 works 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 Version of Records, 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.

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.

Distributions From non-ACM Servers

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

Conference Publication Policy

Please see the Conference Publication Policy for additional expectations related spcifically to ACM Conference Publications.

Inappropriate Content Policy

Please see ACM's Inappropriate Content Policy

Submitting and Investigating Potential Violations of this Policy

See Policy on Submitting and Investigating Claims

Confidentiality Policy

See Confidentiality Policy

Communicating Results of Investigations

See Policy on Communicating Results of Investigations

Appealing Violation Decisions

See Appealing Policy Violation Decisions

Contact ACM

The ACM Director of Publications should be contacted for any:

  • Questions about the interpretation of this policy
  • Questions about appeals of decisions
  • Requests for deviations from, or extensions to, this policy
  • Reporting of egregious behavior related to this policy, including purposeful evasion of the policy or false reporting

Mailing address:
ACM Director of Publications
Association for Computing Machinery
1601 Broadway, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10019-7434
Phone: +1-212-626-0659
Or via email:
scott.delman@hq.acm.org

 

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