ACM'S Hybrid Open Access Revenue  Policy

ACM is committed to a transparent anti-double-dipping revenue-neutral policy.

"Double-dipping" refers to a practice of increasing net revenue by charging and retaining OA fees for the same content that is being paid for by subscription. 

ACM does not follow this practice. 

Until such time as the uptake on author-choice hybrid OA reaches a tipping point that starts to reduce subscriptions, ACM will rebate or provide credits on a going forward basis 100% of the net revenue generated from its Hybrid Open Access publishing program.

In 2018, ACM plans to launch a number of new Gold Open Access journals and will utilize a portion of its growing Hybrid Open Access Fund to underwrite or subsidize the cost of APCs during each Gold OA journals' initial years of publication. In addition, a portion of this Fund will be utilized to underwrite or subsidize the cost of APCs for accepted ACM authors who have demonstrated a clear financial or economic need. ACM believes this re-allocation of Hybrid APC income to underwrite or subsidize the long term transition of its publications program to a sustainable Gold OA model is consistent with ACM’s firmly established “anti-double-dipping” policy and the original rationale for the creation of the Hybrid Open Access model over a decade ago, as a way to transition from subscription-based publishing to Gold OA publishing. ACM will continue to experiment with alternative models for Open Access publication and will continue to return the unused portion of its Hybrid Open Access Fund to the community, as it has done since 2015. These details will be communicated further as appropriate at the time of invoicing.

ACM'S Hybrid Open Access Publishing Program

ACM is committed to providing authors of all ACM publications with an option to make the published versions of their works freely available to the general public via the ACM Digital Library. 

Authors wishing to take advantage of this option may do so by paying an Open Access fee to ACM prior to publication. Authors who just want to publish their articles for access by ACM's large subscription base may do so without paying any fees.

The Open Access fee option to publish in established subscription-based publications is commonly referred to as the Hybrid Open Access Model. 

The Hybrid Open Access Model has existed for a number of years, though different publishers and societies choose to implement it in different ways. Many feel that Hybrid Open Access options are a step in the right direction in making the scholarly literature more openly accessible. But there is also concern that some publishers may unfairly take advantage of such a model for their own financial gain by using open access fees to supplement their existing subscription revenue streams, rather than use them responsibly to address the growing concern over funding in the library environment.

The practice of enhancing net revenues by retaining OA fees for content that is also paid for by subscription has been dubbed "double-dipping".

In developing ACM's Hybrid Open Access model, much consideration was given to concerns raised about this perceived "double-dipping" by some publishers. 

As one of the world's leading scientific societies, ACM is committed to publishing policies that advance the goals of scientific discovery, innovation, and education in a sustainable and responsible way. ACM's Hybrid Open Access Program is therefore being implemented in a highly transparent, affordable, and fair way for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders in the scholarly community. 

Therefore, until such time that the author uptake on Hybrid Open Access may reach a tipping point leading to cancellation of subscriptions and reduction of revenue, ACM will allocate 100% of the revenue received from OA fees either towards Gold and Hybrid OA programs, or towards credit for renewing academic libraries (See ACM's Hybrid OA Revenue Policy).

ACM's subscription revenue has not been reduced thus far and it is not expected that it will be reduced by its Open Access program for some time to come. This is in large part due to the fact that ACM is and has been one of the most affordable publishers in terms of content value and subscription prices.

For authors, this means that OA fees are kept to a minimum and sustainable level, as well as the option to take advantage of significant discounts by becoming an ACM member.

For libraries, ACM is committed to rebating and/or crediting, and / or crediting on a global basis 100% of the net returning revenue ACM generates from its Hybrid Open Access program and this revenue to the library community, or allocating this revenue towards the subsidizing of OA programs. 

For users of the ACM Digital Library and consumers of ACM's publications this means that more of the scholarly literature from ACM's high quality and impact publications is available to a wider potential audience of readers.

For Funding Agencies and Institutional OA Funds, this means that they can trust that investigators who are recipients of their research funds will be utilizing those funds to publish in a responsible way that keeps these funds in the research community.

If you have questions about ACM's Hybrid Open Access Policy, please contact DL-Info@acm.org for more information.

ACM Policy Regarding Merging Academic Institutions

In recent years, there has also been a growing trend among academic consortia where existing institutional Digital Library subscribers have merged with other subscribing institutions belonging to the same consortium. This has made it necessary for ACM to reevaluate its pricing policies to make certain these merging institutions are priced in a manner consistent with ACMs general fee criteria while still providing access to ACMs high quality scholarly research content at an affordable rate. 

In the event an existing subscribing institution merges with another institution that does not subscribe to the Digital Library, the current year’s pricing for the existing subscriber shall remain in effect for the remainder of the active subscription period. Upon renewal, the DL subscription tier and fees shall be based on the reported full-text downloads (or usage) of the prior subscribing institution and the combined total FTE and number of research staff and faculty of the newly merged institution. In the event two existing institutions within a consortium that both subscribe to the DL merge into one institution, ACM will maintain the separate and applicable Digital Library renewal fee for each member in year one of the merger. After which (in year two of the merger), the total student full-time enrollment (or FTE) and number of research staff and faculty existing at each institution prior to merger will be weighed against the resulting total student FTE and number of research staff and faculty after the merger. Once the newly merged institutions are operating under a single institution’s access and name, ACM can better evaluate the total usage for the combined users and what fair pricing should apply upon renewal. As appropriate, the newly merged institution may be priced under a higher ACM tier profile if the combined FTE and usage are higher as a result. To be clear, the fee for the newly merged institution will not be automatically reduced if the merger is not the result of a cut in programs offered and/or a significant reduction in the total number of users that will have access to the Digital Library. To ensure ACM’s continued financial sustainability, it is important that Digital Library subscription revenue is not adversely affected by what may be in some cases a change only in an institutional name or administrative role.

ACM has communicated this information on a case-by-case basis with various consortia over the last few years, but the increasing number of mergers in the academic sector warrants that our merger policy is now adopted as a standard across all consortia. Please email DL-Info@hq.acm.org with any questions you may have about these details.

Archival and Perpetual Use Rights

Institutions with a subscription to the ACM Digital Library have access to the entire archive of all the materials in the Digital Library for the course of their subscription.  Upon either non renewal of an institution’s subscription, an institution has perpetual use rights to the materials published during the year(s) of their subscription.  These institutions do not have perpetual use rights to archive of materials post cancellation.

ACM has arrangements with third party archiving solutions.  Institutions may work with these organizations to arrange access to the materials they have perpetual use rights to.

ACM has partnerships with:


Authorized Users

The following categories of users of the ACM Digital Library (DL) are recognized as Authorized Users: persons affiliated with the Subscribers as students, faculty, registered users or employees, authorized persons physically present in the Subscribers’ library facilities.

Authorized Uses for Institutional DL Subscribers & Consortium Members

The ACM licenses access to its Digital Library of publications and published materials to educational, research, non-profit and non-governmental (NGOs), government, and corporate institutions. These licenses allow large groups of software developers, designers, IT professionals, researchers, engineers, students, and others access to all of the contents of the ACM Digital Library concurrently.

No ownerships rights over the materials published within the ACM Digital Library are transferred as part of these licenses, although certain archival and fair use rights do apply to institutional customers. There are no limitations placed on the number of downloads allowed on an annual basis for institutional customers, although in most cases there is a direct or indirect relationship between pricing and download activity at the institutional level.

Access is typically granted via IP Authentication. In limited cases, ACM enables the use of domain name lookup for corporate institutions.

For institutional subscribers to the ACM Digital Library, the following uses are authorized:

  • Sharing of materials from the ACM Digital Library amongst colleagues from within the same institution
  • Use of ACM Digital Library materials in courses, electronic reserves, distance learning within the subscribing institution,participation in established Inter Library Loan programs among subscribing institutions, and Walk In Use.
  • 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-copyrighted or Licensed work. A college, university or other accredited institution may place a single copy of a definitive version 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 and licensed 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 under CONFU Guidelines. Electronic dissemination is not allowed.
  • 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.

Under no circumstances are the following actions permitted:

  • Sharing access to ACM DL materials with individuals or organizations outside the subscribing institution
  • Using scripts or spiders to automatically download articles or harvest metadata from the ACM Digital Library. This activity is a serious violation of  ACM’s DL usage policy and will result in the temporary or permanent termination of download rights for the subscribing institution.
  • The posting of ACM DL materials on an 3rd party server or peer to peer network without the written permission from the ACM.

Authorized Uses for ACM Members & Individual DL Subscribers

Individual ACM members have the option of subscribing to the ACM Digital Library for personal use. Personal use may include reading, viewing, downloading, or printing materials from the ACM Digital Library. The personal use of materials from the ACM Digital Library may take place in a private, educational, or corporate setting, but use of the materials and access to the ACM DL should be limited to the individual subscriber.

Under no circumstances are the following actions permitted:

  • Sharing of individual usernames and passwords with others
  • Transferring your account to another individual
  • Sharing materials within the Digital Library that require username and password access. This includes but is not limited to emailing  files from the Digital Library to others, sharing printed materials from the Digital Library, or posting materials from the Digital Library on a server or peer to peer network without written permission from the ACM. (Note: Authors of ACM Publications retain  certain distribution rights regarding their own published materials that supersede the above policy.)
  • Using scripts or spiders to automatically download articles or harvest metadata from the ACM Digital Library.
  • Exhibits user download activity indicative of sharing access rights with more than a single user.

Institutional Membership Policy

ACM no longer accepts new institutional membership subscriptions from individual institutional subscribers, but will continue to service existing institutional subscriptions as in the past. The best way for new institutional subscribers to get access to the ACM Digital Library is via an established academic library consortium agreement.

When it's time for an institutional subscription?

  • There is an educational or business need for your organization to gain access to the Digital Library.
  • There is a need to share published works included in the Digital Library with other people in your organization.

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