FAQs

Most commonly asked questions about the IEEE Standards Association, its programs, products, services and processes.

Copyright and Copyright Permission

Information on using copyrighted material in your IEEE standard or using material from IEEE standards in a document.

 


Where can I get more information about the IEEE SA Copyright Policy?

The IEEE SA Copyright Policy is defined in Clause 7 of the IEEE SA Standards Board Bylaws and its implementation is defined in Subclause 6.1 of the IEEE SA Standards Board Operations Manual.

View our copyright policy:

What does the term "Published" refer to within the Policy?

The word "Published" shall mean material for which a claim of copyright is apparent. Some examples are:

  • The presence of the copyright symbol on the material;
  • An explicit statement of copyright ownership or intellectual property rights specifically related to the material;
  • A stated permission to include the material in an IEEE standard;
  • A text reference that indicates the insertion of material excerpted from a copyrighted work; and/or
  • A visual indication of an excerpt from another work, such as indented text.

Note that material on a website may not indicate a copyright claim on the document, but may instead assert the copyright for all material on the website in the footer of the website or in its Terms and Conditions.

For more information see subclause 7.1 of the IEEE SA Standards Board Bylaws. If you are unsure whether a claim of copyright by a third party is apparent, you should treat the material as Published until informed otherwise.

What does it mean to be “previously Published”?

Any material that showed evidence of a copyright claim prior to, or at its submittal to IEEE SA is considered “previously Published.”

What is a Contribution?

A Contribution is any material that is presented verbally or in a recorded or written form (e.g. text, drawings, flowcharts, slide presentations, videos) in any IEEE standards development activity or Industry Connections Activity.

How is a Contribution different from copyright?

A Contribution is material that is submitted to a standards development activity or an Industry Connections activity.  Submitting a Contribution means that the participant is providing the material for consideration and possible use by the IEEE. Once a Contribution is made, it cannot be withdrawn.

Contributions can either show evidence of a copyright claim prior to, or at submission (previously Published) or not (not previously Published). If the Contribution contains previously Published material, then copyright permission is required prior to distributing the material to the Working Group or activity (via a written submission, presentation, video, etc.), or including the material in the IEEE draft standard or draft Industry Connections deliverable. The participant must inform the Chair if the intended Contribution contains previously Published material, and should assist the chair in obtaining copyright permission.

What actions do standards development participants need to take before submitting a Contribution?

All participants in IEEE standards development must read and understand our Copyright Policy prior to submitting any Contributions. Participants shall make the Working Group Chair aware of any Contributions submitted from previously Published sources and should assist the Chair in obtaining permission to use these Contributions. Participants need to determine whether disclosure of any Contributions that they submit to IEEE requires the prior consent of other parties and, if so, to obtain it.

Is a working group allowed to review my Contributions without permission to include them in a standard?

No. All Contributions submitted are subject to the IEEE SA Copyright Policy.

Can a Working Group accept a Contribution with an explicit copyright statement without obtaining an IEEE Permission Response Form Letter?

No. If an explicit assertion of copyright is made, the Contribution has to be treated as Published.

Will I be prevented from using pre-existing material I own after contributing it to IEEE?

No. The copyright for the original material has not been transferred to IEEE, therefore the original material is still the property of the original copyright owner.

What are IEEE's rights concerning Contributions not previously Published?

IEEE has the non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide rights (i.e., a license) to use the Contribution in connection with the standards project for which the Contribution was made.

Upon approval of the standard, IEEE has the right to exploit and grant permission to use the standard's content derived from the Contribution in any format or media without restriction.

What is the Copyright Policy for verbal Contributions?

Verbal Contributions, as a form of expression, are not copyrightable. However, in the event the verbal expression is recorded in any way (e.g., included in an IEEE draft standard) it is copyrightable. Verbal Contributions, in their recorded form, are subject to the IEEE SA Copyright Policy. IEEE SA Working Group participants can verbally discuss any material without requesting permission as long as the material is not shown, distributed, or recorded.

When do working group participants need to request copyright permission from another entity?

The request for permission for all Contributions from previously Published sources should be made as soon as possible after the participant decides that they would like to submit the previously Published material (via a written submission, presentation, video, etc.) to the Working Group or activity (including material from another IEEE standard). The participant shall contact the Working Group or Activity Chair promptly. An appropriate permission response shall be obtained prior to presenting the Contributions or incorporating them in the IEEE draft standard or Industry Connections deliverable.

While it is the duty of the Working Group Chair to request the permission, participants who submit Contributions from previously Published sources should assist the Working Group Chair in making the request.

All copyright permissions shall be provided to IEEE SA during Mandatory Editorial Coordination prior to ballot initiation. If new Contributions from previously Published sources are to be included after Standards Association ballot initiation, the permissions shall be obtained prior to the next recirculation.

What if a standard in development is based on another previously Published work or will incorporate a portion of any other Published work?

At the time of PAR submittal, any known previously Published material intended for inclusion in a proposed IEEE standard must be identified. This includes any previously Published work on which the standard will be based.

IEEE SA Intellectual Property Rights (stds-copyright@ieee.org) must be informed immediately if a portion of another Published work will be incorporated in the IEEE draft standard so that the Chair may obtain guidance in addressing any copyright issues, especially if a contractual agreement is required between IEEE and the copyright owner.

No IEEE Standards Committee, Working Group, or volunteer can develop an agreement for the IEEE SA without the participation of an IEEE SA staff member.

How do I request permission to include Contributions from previously Published sources that are owned by another entity?

It is the duty of the Working Group or Activity Chair to make the request using the IEEE Permission Form Letters available in the myProject system.

Do I need permission if I am using IEEE documents for comparison or discussion only?

IEEE SA Working Groups are permitted to present and review information from an approved standard from another IEEE SA Working Group overseen by the same Standards Committee after notifying the Standards Committee Chair. If the IEEE SA Working Group wants to present and review information from an approved standard from another IEEE SA Working Group that is overseen by a different Standards Committee, the IEEE SA Working Group must request permission from IEEE SA IPR (stds-copyright@ieee.org).

For other IEEE documents, permission must be obtained from IEEE. The IEEE RightsLink service may be used to request that permission (https://www.ieee.org/publications_standards/publications/rights/reqperm.html).

If the IEEE SA Working Group wants to excerpt material from an approved standard to incorporate in any Work Product, regardless of the Standards Committee oversight, the Working Group must request permission from IEEE SA IPR (stds-copyright@ieee.org).

Do I need permission if I am using a previously Published document that is not owned by IEEE for comparison or discussion only?

Yes. Distributing the previously Published document (which includes showing the document) requires permission from the copyright owner for that distribution. The IEEE Permission Request Form can be used to request permission to distribute the document and possibly include it in the IEEE draft standard.

When working on an IEEE draft standard, do I need permission to use content from an approved IEEE standard or another IEEE draft standard?

If the information in the approved IEEE standard is derived from a source other than IEEE, permission needs to be requested from that source. The source is indicated where the information is placed in the IEEE standard, and may be listed in the front matter as well.

References to IEEE standards are strongly preferred. If you intend to reuse content from an approved IEEE standard, you should first request permission from IEEE SA IPR (stds-copyright@ieee.org).

IEEE does not grant permission to reuse content from IEEE draft standards.

See also FAQ on “using IEEE documents for comparison or discussion”.

What is fair use?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits the use of copyright-protected works without permission in specific circumstances determined by a court. It is a defense used in litigation.

Does IEEE provide guidance on fair use?

No. Whether a use of copyrighted material is eligible for the fair use defense is a determination made by courts.  Courts in the United States, in general, consider the following four factors:

  1. Purpose and character of use
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
  3. Amount of the work used
  4. Impact on the market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

A fair use analysis is extremely fact dependent.

How do I obtain permission to reprint information from an IEEE standard? What information should I include in the request?

Contact IEEE SA Intellectual Property Rights (stds-ipr@ieee.org) to obtain permission to reprint information from an IEEE standard.

The communication needs to cite the specific material for which you are requesting permission detailing how the material will be distributed (e.g., a seminar with overheads and handouts, a publication, or an annex to product information). The intended format of the distribution (e.g., print or electronic transmission) is not necessary. The IEEE SA will need to determine whether it will be used internally or externally and whether there will be a fee for the information. If there is an estimated distribution volume, please include this information as well.

Do I need to get permission to make a copy or several copies of an IEEE standard?

Yes. Any reproduction of IEEE standards must be authorized by IEEE SA. Typically, the license for reproduction of IEEE standards is based on the determination of whether it is for internal or external use. Fees for educational use only reproduction are lower than the external use pricing. Special situations are also negotiable where the circumstances do not entirely fit one use or the other. Contact IEEE SA Intellectual Property Rights (stds-ipr@ieee.org).

Do I need permission to reprint the abstract, scope or to reference an IEEE standard?

No. The IEEE SA views the abstract and scope as publicly available information. We only request that you properly reference the title and numeric designation of the standard. When referencing an IEEE standard it may be helpful to get in touch with IEEE SA in order to provide ordering information or distribution availability.

How do I correctly reference an IEEE standard?

The correct title of an IEEE standard includes both its numeric designation and its descriptive title (e.g., IEEE 1076-2008, IEEE Standard VHDL Language Reference Manual). The numeric designation begins with "IEEE" followed by the project number and the year of the standards approval. The descriptive text title always begins with "IEEE," which is followed by the level of standard (Standard, Recommended Practice, Guide, or Trial-Use Standard). Thereafter, the project name appears.

Do I need permission to use a table or figure from an IEEE standard in a presentation or training seminar?

Yes, permission is required for any reproduction of material from an IEEE standard, no matter how limited the amount of information is. Contact IEEE SA Intellectual Property Rights (stds-ipr@ieee.org).

What if I become aware that an organization/company is claiming conformance to an IEEE draft standard?

If you become aware that an organization/company is claiming conformance to an IEEE draft standard, formal written notification (including the company name, address, and a copy of the offending claim, etc.) should be sent to:

Secretary, IEEE SA Standards Board
IEEE Standards Association
445 Hoes Lane Piscataway, NJ 08854

Upon receipt of the notification, the status of the draft will be verified and a letter will be sent to the organization/company indicating that the document they are claiming conformance to is a draft standard and has not yet been fully reviewed for completeness, functionality, or interoperability, and is subject to change at any time prior to approval as an IEEE standard.

What are some additional resources on copyright?

Copyright for Contributions to IEEE Standards Development:
https://standards.ieee.org/ipr/index.html

How to Reference and Request Permission to Use, Adopt or Translate IEEE Standards:
https://standards.ieee.org/ipr/stdspermission.html

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright FAQs:
https://www.wipo.int/copyright/en/faq_copyright.html

USPTO copyright slides:
https://www.uspto.gov/video/cbt/GIPA-English/copyright/index.htm