Skip Navigation

Home  >  Publications & Standards  >  Rights






What is the IEEE Electronic Copyright Form?

The IEEE eCF is a fully digital version of the IEEE Copyright Form. It includes an important feature (the Wizard) that, through a series of questions and replies, determines the author's copyright status and brings the author to the appropriate Form to sign.


top of page


How is an author's copyright status determined?

The author's copyright status is determined to a large extent by the type of employer for whom the author works. For example, if you are employed by the U.S. Government, and you are the sole author of your paper, then you should sign the "IEEE Copyright Form for U.S. Government Employees." If you are employed by the U.S. Government, but your coauthors are in private industry, then one of your coauthors should complete the Wizard and sign the IEEE Copyright Form.

If you are the sole author and you are employed by a Crown Government (or if you and your coauthors are Crown government employees), then copyright to your paper will remain with the Crown government. You will consequently be asked to sign the "IEEE Copyright Form for Works Subject to Crown Copyright." However, if you are employed by a Crown government, but your coauthor is in private industry, then your coauthor should complete the Wizard and sign the IEEE Copyright Form.


top of page


How do I "sign" the IEEE Electronic Copyright Form?

Simply by typing your name at the proper location.


top of page


Does a typed name carry the same legal weight as a handwritten signature?

Yes. Until the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act ("E-Sign") was signed into law in 2000, we were required to obtain a handwritten signature on all copyright transfer forms. The E-Sign Act now gives an electronically signed form the same legal effect as that of an original, hand-signed document.


top of page


Don't you need to use a higher level of security, such as digital certificates or encryption keys?

If this were a transaction between financial institutions, involving large sums of money, then we'd certainly be using such technology. Given the relatively modest status of this kind of transaction, it would be overkill to employ so much security.


top of page


What about authentication?

The only way to get to the IEEE Electronic Copyright Form is if you've already been authenticated through at least one identification process.


top of page


How does this Electronic Copyright Form work?

You begin by responding to the interactive Wizard, which was designed to be very simple and convenient. After you've finished answering the Wizard's easy questions, you will be transferred to one of three forms:

  1. the IEEE Copyright Form,
  2. the US Government Employee Certification Form, or
  3. the Crown Government Employee Certification Form.

Once you've read the information on the Form, and confirmed that it is the correct Form for you, all you need to do is type in your name and date in the boxes at the bottom. Once you click on the "Submit" button, the process will be completed, and you will automatically receive a copy of the signed Form via email.


top of page


What if I am not authorized to sign the Form?

If you know that you are not in an authorized position to sign the IEEE Copyright Form, or if a co-author of your paper should sign instead of you, please be sure to click the "Yes" button on the introductory page when asked "Should another Author or Corporate Officer complete the electronic Copyright Form?"


top of page


What if I make a mistake while trying to complete the Wizard?

There is a "Start Over" button at the bottom of the Wizard pages that can be clicked on at any time during the process.


top of page


What exactly is copyright?

Copyright is one of a group of intellectual property rights (or laws) that are intended to protect the interests of an author or copyright owner. These laws give an author/owner nearly exclusive control over the use of his/her work. In particular, copyright protects the specific expression of an idea (e.g., the specific wording of your text) but not the idea itself. Copyright comes into existence the moment a work (an article, a book, a computer program, an email, a symphony, a sculpture, etc.) is first fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which it can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.


top of page


What happens when an author signs the IEEE Copyright Form?

When an author signs the IEEE Copyright Form, he/she is transferring ownership of the copyright rights in the work to the IEEE. In other words, the IEEE becomes owner of the paper when the author signs, dates and submits an IEEE Copyright Form.


top of page


What if I have questions that haven't been answered here?


Bill Hagen, Manager
IEEE Intellectual Property Rights
445 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08855-1331
+1 732 562 3966 (phone)
+1 732 562 1746 (fax)


top of page