Copyright FAQs for Participants

Copyright FAQs for Participants

Information on the IEEE SA Copyright Policy, Contributions to IEEE standards development, and when permission is required from copyright owners.

IEEE SA Copyright Policy
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;
  • Indication that the material is for use by a specific entity other than IEEE, or for a specific purpose other than IEEE standards development; 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. If the material has a notice that it has been placed in the public domain, inform the Chair and provide the location of the notice.

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 (including at submission to a Standards Committee, Working Group or other subgroup, or Industry Connections Activity (“Activity”)) is considered “previously Published.”

What is a Contribution?

A Contribution is any material that is presented orally 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.

Do I give IEEE copyright ownership when I make a Contribution?

No. IEEE is granted a license to use your original Contribution (i.e., IEEE is given the right to use the Contribution). Copyright ownership remains with the person who created or owns the original Contribution. However, any compilation of Contributions from participants is owned by IEEE.

If a Contribution that is not previously Published is submitted to IEEE, will the license granted to IEEE change if the Contribution is Published afterward?

No. IEEE is granted the rights at the time of submission and can use the Contribution, as permitted, without requesting any additional permission.

Fair Use
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.

The concept of “fair use” may be established in some jurisdictions using different terms (e.g., “exceptions to copyright”).

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.  Therefore, participants submitting a Contribution may not determine whether use of that Contribution is eligible for the fair use defense.

Courts in the United States, in general, consider the following four factors in determining fair use:

  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.

Can a Working Group Chair accept a Contribution containing material from a previously Published source without an accompanying acceptable Permission Response Form based on a claim of fair use?


What is a Contribution?

A Contribution is any material that is presented orally 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.  For more information see subclause 7.1 of the IEEE SA Standards Board Bylaws.

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 IEEE. Once a Contribution is made, it cannot be withdrawn.

The concept of a Contribution is different from copyright. Copyright refers to the rights that owners of creative Works have with respect to use of their Works. A Contribution may or may not have copyright attached.

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, document repository, online forum, etc.), or including the material in the draft IEEE standard or draft Industry Connections deliverable. The participant shall inform the Chair if the intended Contribution contains previously Published material, and should assist the chair in obtaining copyright permission.

What is the Copyright Policy for Oral Contributions?

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

If you are discussing Published material, you must inform the Working Group to ensure that permission is obtained prior to using the material.

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

All participants in IEEE standards development must read and understand the IEEE SA Copyright Policy prior to submitting any Contributions. Participants shall make the Working Group or Activity Chair aware of any Contributions 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.

How do I request permission to include Contributions from previously Published sources?

It is the duty of the Working Group or Activity Chair to make the request using the IEEE SA Permission Request and Response Forms. You must inform the Chair as soon as possible, and you should assist the Chair in making the request. Permission is required prior to submitting the Contribution (via a written submission, presentation, video, document repository, online forum, etc.).

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

No. All Contributions submitted (via a written submission, presentation, video, document repository, online forum, etc.) are subject to the IEEE SA Copyright Policy. Participants automatically grant IEEE the right to use Contributions that are not previously Published when they submit the Contributions. For previously Published materials, participants must inform the Chair and should assist the Chair in obtaining permission.

Will I be prevented from using original material I own after contributing it to IEEE SA during standards development?

No. The copyright for your original material has not been transferred to IEEE, therefore you still own your original material and can use it.

Note that this response may not apply to your Contributions to other IEEE publications. The IEEE Copyright Policy applies to those Contributions.

Can I provide my Contribution that I own to another standards setting organization after submitting it to IEEE SA?

Yes, however this only applies to your original contribution. If there are modifications by other IEEE SA participants, then the modified Contribution cannot be submitted to another standards setting organization.

Can I provide a Contribution to IEEE SA if I have already provided it to another standards setting organization?

If the policies of the other standards setting organization permits you to do so, then you can submit your Contribution to IEEE SA. In some instances, you assign your Contribution to the standards setting organization when you submit it, so the Contribution is then owned by the standards setting organization, and permission to use the material would have to be obtained. You must determine if you have authorization to make the Contribution to IEEE SA.

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 or Activity for which the Contribution was made.

Upon approval of the standard or publication of the Activity deliverable, IEEE has the right to use the content of the standard in any way, and to grant permission to use the content derived from the Contribution in any format or media without restriction.

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