FAQs

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

Copyright FAQs for Working Group and Activity Chairs

Information on the IEEE SA Copyright Policy, requesting permission for use of Published material, and sharing draft IEEE standards.

 

IEEE SA Copyright Policy

Fair Use

Contributions

Requesting Permission during Development of IEEE Standards or Industry Connections Activity Deliverables

Sharing Draft IEEE Standards

Claims of Conformance to Draft IEEE Standards

Additional Resources


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.”

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.

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.

 

Contributions

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.  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 the 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 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 meeting minutes or inserted in a draft IEEE standard) it is copyrightable. Verbal Contributions, in their recorded form, are subject to the IEEE SA Copyright Policy. IEEE SA Working Group or Activity participants can verbally 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.

Is a Working Group allowed to review 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, copyright permission using the IEEE SA Copyright Request and Response Forms is required, and these forms request the right to use the previously Published materials. Any exceptions must be approved by IEEE SA Intellectual Property Rights (IEEE SA IPR) (stds-copyright@ieee.org).

Can a Working Group or Activity review, consider or accept a Contribution with a claim of copyright without obtaining copyright permission?

No. If a claim of copyright is apparent, the Contribution has to be treated as Published.

What if the Working Group invites guest speakers to talk about technology and not actual draft development? Can that presentation be a part of the standards development meeting without the presentation being a Contribution?

No. The presentation cannot be a part of the standards development meeting agenda. In that instance, a separate session apart from the Working Group standards development meeting should be arranged. Working Groups sometimes allocate time before or after the Working Group meeting for educational sessions.

 

Requesting Permission during Development of IEEE Standards or Industry Connections Activity Deliverables

When do Working Group or Activity 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, document repository, online forum, etc.) to the Working Group or Activity (including material from another IEEE standard). The participant shall contact the Working Group or Activity Chair promptly, informing them that their Contribution contains previously Published material. An appropriate permission response shall be obtained prior to the participant presenting the Contribution or incorporating the previously Published material in the draft IEEE standard or Industry Connections deliverable.

While it is the duty of the Working Group or Activity Chair to request the permission using the IEEE SA Permission Request and Response Forms, participants who submit Contributions containing previously Published material should assist the Chair in making the request.

If the Working Group or Activity would like to request permission that is different from what is included in the IEEE SA Copyright Request and Response Forms, the Working Group or Activity Chair must contact IEEE SA IPR (stds-copyright@ieee.org) for an approved alternative form.

All copyright permissions shall be provided to IEEE SA during Mandatory Editorial Coordination prior to the start of IEEE SA ballot. If new Contributions containing previously Published material are to be included after the IEEE SA ballot has started, the permissions shall be obtained prior to the next recirculation ballot.

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 SA Permission Request and Response Forms.

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 draft IEEE standard so that the Working Group Chair may obtain guidance in addressing any copyright issues, especially if a contractual agreement (rather than a Permission Response Form) 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.

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

IEEE SA Working Groups are permitted to present (i.e., display during a Working Group meeting) 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. The Standards Committee Chair can inform Working Groups that the approved standards under the Standards Committee can be displayed within its Working Groups without informing the 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 inform IEEE SA IPR (stds-copyright@ieee.org) prior to presenting information from the approved IEEE standard. After informing IEEE SA IPR, the IEEE SA Working Group may present the information.

Note that the IEEE SA Working Group is not permitted to distribute (e.g., email or share on a server) any approved IEEE standard without explicit permission from IEEE. For that permission, the Working Group Chair must contact the IEEE SA Program Manager.

If the IEEE SA Working Group wants to excerpt material from an approved IEEE standard to incorporate in any Work Product (e.g. a draft standard), regardless of the Standards Committee oversight, the Working Group must request permission from IEEE SA by completing the IEEE Standards Permission for Use Form.

Do I need permission to use IEEE documents (other than IEEE standards) for review and/or inclusion in the draft standard?

For IEEE documents other than IEEE standards (e.g. IEEE conference proceedings, papers, journals, etc.), permission has been granted by IEEE to

  1. Review, and 
  2. Reuse, without modifications, small portions of text in IEEE standards (e.g., the equivalent of two to three paragraphs only) and figures.

The Working Group shall

  1. Provide full credit information pertaining to the original IEEE publications (e.g., author name, paper title, publication title, month and year of original publication), and 
  2. For figures, credit the original source (author, paper, and publication), and place the IEEE copyright line (© [Year] IEEE) prominently with each reprinted figure.

For larger excerpts, or excerpts with modifications, permission must be obtained from IEEE.  The IEEE RightsLink service may be used to request that permission.

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 or placing it in a repository or on an online forum) requires permission from the copyright owner for that distribution. The IEEE SA Permission Request and Response Forms can be used to request permission to distribute the document and possibly include it in the draft IEEE standard.

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

If the information contained 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 by completing the IEEE Standards Permission for Use Form.

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

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

Does the Working Group need permission to use text from the approved standard if it is developing a revision or amendment of the standard under a Project Authorization Request (PAR)?

Working Group participants, balloters and Public Review commenters are granted permission to use the text of the approved standard maintained by the Working Group for a revision or amendment of that approved standard when the PAR for that Project is approved by the IEEE SA Standards Board.

 

Sharing Draft IEEE Standards

Can the IEEE Working Group Chair share the draft IEEE standard being developed by the Working Group with any participant in the Working Group?

Yes. The Working Group Chair determines who is a participant, as defined in the Working Group policies and procedures.  Draft IEEE standards shall only be distributed by the Working Group Chair or a designee.

What should I do if I am an IEEE Working Group Chair and the Working Group would like to share the draft IEEE standard it developed with another IEEE Working Group?

See the FAQs on Sharing Drafts.

What should I do if I am an IEEE Working Group Chair and the Working Group would like to share the draft IEEE standard with an organization external to IEEE?

Contact your IEEE SA Program Manager for guidance. See also subclause 6.1.3.4 of the IEEE SA Standards Board Operations Manual.

 

Claims of Conformance to Draft IEEE Standards

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

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

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.

 

Additional Resources

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