This page provides information about the positions of candidates for ACM and SIGGRAPH positions regarding Open Access. Two questions were emailed to the candidates; we list questions and responses below.
- Open Access to ACM publications.
- Background: The Open Access movement argues that unrestricted access to publications (especially online access) has compelling advantages for both authors (increasing citation rates) and readers (improving access). Various Open-Access publishers are trying out alternative funding models, such as author fees (e.g. the Public Library of Science). The US government has mandated that all NIH-funded research be submitted to an Open Access repository (PubMedCentral) and has recently called for comments on a proposal to extend this mandate to all federally-funded research. The ACM Publication Board has argued that Open Access is harmful since it will cause ACM to lose revenues it currently receives from the Digital Library, and has even taken action to restrict linking to author's copies of ACM publications. A full adoption of Open Access by ACM would require removing the paywall from the Digital Library, though more partial
steps are certainly possible.
- Questions: What is your opinion on this issue? If you are in favor of Open Access, what actions would you pursue to reach this goal?
- Transfer of copyright for ACM Publications.
- Background: The ACM currently requires authors to transfer their copyright to the ACM. This includes the publication as a whole, as well as individual images. Some authors have found that they cannot grant permission to other publications to reprint their own images. A more author-friendly policy would be for ACM to have authors grant it a license with some non-exclusive rights instead of a copyright transfer.
- Questions: What is your opinion on this issue? If you are in favor of changing the policy, what changes would you propose and what actions would you pursue to reach this goal?
- Alain Chesnais (candidate for President):
- I believe that as a general ideal, Open Access is a wonderful concept.
Open Access means that there is a freely accessible copy of the content
somewhere on the web. That does not imply that every access to the content
is freely accessible and, more specifically, it does not imply that the Digital
Library itself be free of charge. Please see my reply to Question 2 below to see
how current ACM copyright policy addresses that. The key issue in providing the
Digital Library service is that we want to make sure that when we deliver
content in the Digital Library it remains accessible for the long term. That
is a fundamental role of any library. We want to ensure that the model we put
in place provides for the ability to guarantee that the content continues to
be readily accessible for many years to come. That implies finding a means of
funding the service that continues uninterrupted for the long run. One key
thing to remember is that ACM is an educational and scientific computing
society of 96,000 members worldwide that publishes over 45 peer-reviewed
journals in computing and computer science as well as the peer-reviewed
proceedings of 170 conferences annually. The ACM publishing program has been
shaped by the volunteer members of the computing community and aims to provide
that community high-quality journals and conference proceedings at a very
affordable price. There is a fair amount of flexibility allowed within the
current model. For instance, every SIGGRAPH member has free access to all
SIGGRAPH sponsored publications in the Digital Library. That has been in
place since the launch of the Digital Library. We managed to do that at
SIGGRAPH without raising dues by setting appropriate priorities for the
overall set of services that we offer our members.
Let me point readers to an article in CACM written by Michel Beaudoin-Lafon,
a long time member of the ACM publications committee, that eloquently
addresses many of the issues related to this:
- Let me clear up what appears to be a misconception concerning
existing copyright policy at ACM: ACM was one of the first societies
to modify its copyright policy to allow authors of accepted papers to
post the peer-reviewed, accepted version of their paper on either their
personal or institutional website. This policy of allowing authors to
post the accepted version of their papers has been in place for many years.
As a result, essentially everything that ACM publishes is freely available
somewhere on the Web. At the same time ACM has sustained a successful,
subscription-based publishing program that ensures that the published
content will continue to remain accessible far into the the future - largely
because of very low-cost individual and institutional subscriptions to
the ACM Digital Library.
Does that mean that all issues related to copyright are fully addressed?
No, it doesn't. I would encourage ACM members who are concerned about
specific copyright related issues to volunteer to work on those issues
with the appropriate committees. We are, after all, a volunteer run
- Joseph A. Konstan (candidate for President):
The question of Open Access is an important one. At its core, it is a
balancing act among three competing challenges: (1) ensuring that
published research is accessible by as many people as possible; (2)
ensuring that research is effectively archived and disseminated; and (3)
ensuring that authors have access to venues to publish their research.
Clearly we can all see that the Web has changed things for the better,
but has also raised important questions. The solutions at either end of
the continuum are pretty bad. At one end lies completely closed
publication, where a publisher (nearly all of them for-profit commercial
publishers) claims all rights to an author's paper and leaves it
accessible only for pay. At the other end lies pure self-publication;
anyone can put up their own website, but the papers their lack any
review or editorial process, and will almost certainly disappear when
the author no longer chooses to maintain the site.
The art of Open Access is finding the right compromises that sustain
publication while providing access. ACM has adopted some of these
organization-wide, and is experimenting with others. ACM's copyright
policy allows authors to post copies of their papers on their websites
(or their organizations') where anyone can access the papers for free.
In certain cases, ACM has also made papers of general interest free to
all in the ACM Digital Library as a public service. Clearly there are
other approaches to experiment with. Some suggest that ACM charge a
publication fee to authors that can be used to offset the cost of
publication; this is a worthwhile experiment and may turn into a
long-term option, but it cannot be the only option as it would too
severely limit access to publication to authors who can afford these
While these policies and experiments are good, some have claimed they
are not enough. I have been directly asked why we don't simply make the
Digital Library free to all. While this sounds appealing (especially
for those who pay for the subscriptions), publishing content is
expensive--even when it is purely electronic. ACM has invested tens of
millions of dollars into everything from software development to
scanning to high-bandwidth internet connections and computing to support
the Digital Library, and each year it invests more to maintain and grow
the collection, expand access, and even to subsidize the creation of new
content (through money delivered to the SIGs to support the conferences
that provide much of the DL's content).
I very much support continuing experiments to explore how we balance and
achieve the three challenges behind Open Access. I'm proud that ACM is
already a leader in this field--a strong supporter of authors' rights.
I've spend much time talking with librarians, and am proud that they
view the ACM Digital Library as an incredible bargain--far cheaper for
the value it offers than they can get from other computing publishers.
And I'm excited by the fact that our volunteers, both in the
Publications Board and the SIGs, are exploring and experimenting with a
wide range of new ways to make content accessible in a sustainable way.
- Barbara G. Ryder (candidate for Vice President): No answers received.
- Norman P. Jouppi (candidate for Vice President): No answers received.
- Alexander L. Wolf (candidate for Secretary/Treasurer): No answers received.
- Carlo Ghezzi (candidate for Secretary/Treasurer): No answers received.
- Vinton G. Cerf (candidate for Member at Large):
- First, I favor, at the least, incorporating access to
the digital library to anyone who is already subscribing
to any of the ACM publications. I recognize the financial
issue regarding revenue and would be happy to work with
others interested in finding a practical way to achieve
Second, if by Open Access one says that all publications
of ACM are freely accessible without subscription, perhaps
there is a nuanced way to achieve the objective while not
depriving ACM of one of the means by which it covers its
operating costs. One might start with the item above, and
then after a 1 year delay, allow the papers to be available
to the general public at no additional cost. This is just
a suggestion - analysis is needed to determine the
financial effects. I fully accept the argument that open
access to publications is vital to innovation. If there are
reasonable ways to accelerate access to publications in an
even more timely fashion, I would want to know about them.
- I think it ought to be sufficient to grant ACM non-exclusive
rights to publish documents, not to transfer all rights. I
wonder whether a form of Creative Commons would work? Again,
one needs to look at the finances of ACM as a whole and ask
how such changes would affect the enterprise.
Ultimately, ACM and other non-profits, are intended to
promote wide-spread dissemination of knowledge. Putting
financial barriers in the way of this objective seems
counter-productive. Costs must be met, of course, so this is
not a trivial exercise. It is, however, an important one,
and I am prepared to devote some serious time on Council,
should I be elected.
- Fei-Yue Wang (candidate for Member at Large): No answers received.
- Satoshi Matsuoka (candidate for Member at Large):
- It is my firm belief that open access to scientific results, i.e.,
any academic papers, sensory and simulated data, programs etc., so long
as they have been obtained via public funded research and not compromise
the competitive first rights for an agreed reasonable period of time, is
essential. Since journal and conference papers by nature become public at
the time of their publication, it would follow that they should be
subject to Open Access, unlike commercial publications.
The question then is, who would cover the cost? By all means with digital
publication the linear cost of printing and distribution would be virtually
eliminated, the question would be that of fixed cost. Now ACM's most
significant role in papers and their published venues is that of
accreditation, i.e., providing auspice. Since computer science is conference
centric, I propose to charge the ACM conferences certain amounts sufficient
to cover the fixed cost of digital publication, e.g., maintaining the
Then proposal is superior to charging the authors since the cost is
distributed among the community, and avoids the danger of indecent
pay-to-get-published situation. Since a community member would be paying
in some form anyhow, the ultimate payment amount per person would not
differ substantially, but will provide ubiquitous Open Access without
the conflict of membership interest that the current model suffers from.
Journals can be subsidized from this endeavor.
- I am in favor of author granting the copyright usage to ACM
instead of transfer. With the first policy instituted the business
incentive for transferring copyright would be lost. ACM would further
remove itself from legal issues regarding copyrights. Of course then
authors need to explicitly grant the use of the copyright, and notify
ACM should such granting would be revoked, perhaps after a certain period.
- Salil Vadhan (candidate for Member at Large):
As indicated in my platform statement, strengthening ACM's support
for open access and the wide dissemination of scholarly research is
one of the main issues that I am interested in as a potential ACM
Council Member. As an author, I have personally been frustrated by
ACM's unwillingness to accept the copyright addendum that is the
basis of my university's open access effort. Admittedly, I do
not have a complete picture of the role that publications currently
play in how ACM supports itself, but I am interested in exploring
how ACM might move towards open access in financially sustainable manner.
- Mashhuda Glencross:
- I am in favor of Open Access. In my candidate statement, I indicate this in the sentence "Tutorials and courses, available on-demand and free to the community, will expand the member base, decentralize and highlight the unique SIGGRAPH experience."
Providing Open Access to SIGGRAPH content is complicated by two main reasons, firstly the funding model of the ACM and secondly by issues to do with copyright of content from industry. The second problem even limits the content that can be supplied on the Encore DVDs. Resolving the issue needs multiple organizations to be committed to the idea of Open Access together with alternative funding streams.
My strategy is to begin by initially trying to gain Open Access for some content, namely courses. Given the purpose of courses is educational, it should be possible to argue for a change in policy regarding these. Many authors of courses do currently make their material available online from their own web pages but I'd ideally like to see something more extensive. videolectures.net is a great and actively growing resource for computer science courses and tutorials, it currently has 1962 computer science lectures available for free. From these, only 8 are classed as Computer Graphics. If we consider broader areas that might also potentially include material that is within the remit of the SIGGRAPH conferences then there are also 55 in Computer Vision, 61 in Image Analysis and 14 in Human Computer Interaction. Contrast this with the 762 freely available lectures in Machine Learning. I'd like to see course lectures that are recorded at SIGGRAPH being made available to the community either through videolectures or ACM SIGGRAPH's own website (or both). I am hopeful that we can argue that the ACM SIGGRAPH should make educational content available for free to the community.
Regarding wider Open Access to papers etc., I currently feel unqualified to propose an alternative funding model that would make it possible to effect such a major change. If I am elected, I hope to have an opportunity to investigate the feasibility of this.
- I am in favor of a more author friendly policy on the transfer of copyright. Understandably though, to maintain quality, the ACM needs to limit the potential for re-publication of the same material in other conferences and journals. Perhaps a workable model is, as you suggest, a policy whereby authors grant the ACM an exclusive license to publish the material in it's complete form -- but with an agreed non-exclusive mechanism for allowing authors to re-use an appropriate portion of their content. If I am elected, I would have to bring together a subcommittee of experts and interested parties to debate what form of copyright agreement makes sense and then use this as the basis of a proposal to the ACM as I can't speak with authority on copyright myself.
- James O'Brien:
- I am very much in favor of Open Access, both through allowing authors greater
freedom in how their own papers can be self-distributed and through unrestricted
access to ACM's Digital Library. I recognize that ACM provides an extremely
valuable service in sponsoring many journals, conferences, and other publication
activities and I would not want to see unconsidered changes made that could damage
ACM's viability. However, I believe that Open Access is inevitable due to
University and Funding Agency pressure. Rather than fighting futilely against this
inexorable trend, ACM should be a leader in developing Open Access policies that
still allow ACM to support itself.
Regarding the episode this year where ACM attempted to prohibit link compilations
that pointed to PDFs hosted on author sites: I do not believe that ACM had any valid
legal justification for that action, and further I believe that the action was
contrary to member interests. I'd like ACM's internal policies to be revised so
that similar incidents to not occur in the future.
- I've experienced this problem firsthand in the past where I was told that using my
own images would require permission from ACM and payment of a small fee. There
would also be required language to accompany the image that gave ACM credit rather
than to my students and myself. I don't think ACM has any reasonable interest in
owning included media, such as images or video. The creators of that content should
retain ownership and merely grant ACM wide permissions to use the included content
as part of the primary publication. This is already the policy for third-party
images and I don't see any reason that it should not apply to author-created images
as well. I'd also would like a retroactive grant of unrestricted permissions for
authors to use any of their images that have already been transferred to ACM
- Jacki Morie:
- I am generally in favor of open access to scholarly documents. I applaud the
mandate to have publicly funded research from NIH in the open PubMed system, and
believe that ALL government funded research should be dispersed freely. That being
said, I think that not all research is government funded, and that much of the
access to such research is not for scholarly purposes. I would be in favor of
looking at a hybrid system that allows revenues to be collected in some instances
(for commercial use, e.g) and also sets rates at a reasonable rate. This is a non-
trivial issue and needs a great deal of study and input to come up with a system
that is fair for all. Publishers may have a reasonable expectation to gain some
revenues on their activities, but authors also should be given some opportunity.
The arrival of digital repositories and online publishers is a game changer, and
we need to find the correct rules to play this new game fairly.
- I am in favor of a non-exclusive copyright transfer to ACM or any publisher.
I would be willing to serve on any committee investigating a more equitable
solution for the 21st Century that benefits all.
- Turner Whitted:
For 30 years I've been telling people "You have my permission
to reprint this image, but you're going to have to get
permission from ACM as well." That's only mildly irritating,
especially when you consider that the only reason anyone
wants to reuse my work is because ACM published it in the
first place. The more bothersome irritant is trying to get
access to a paper that isn't readily available. However, I've
also spent a few uncomfortable meetings on an IEEE editorial
board wondering how we were going to fund electronic
distribution of publications. This isn't just an ACM problem;
it is an issue that extends across the entire technical
So there are two sides to this problem, but it's not "us"
versus "them." We are the ACM and it's up to us to come up
with a distribution mechanism that provides ready access
without threatening the existence of the organization.
I guess the easy answer to your question is to endorse the
Open Access proposal. But let's get past the easy answer and
ask how we can find a workable solution that will serve us
and our professional society and become a model for other
organizations. This is going to take work not only to
analyze the financial or legal impact of a change in policy
but to find out what changes in policy will be acceptable to
ACM as a whole and not just to SIGGRAPH.
I just today had a chance to look at the responses from the
SIGGRAPH director at large candidates as well as the ACM
council candidates. They have obviously put a lot of thought
into this issue and almost everyone recognizes the
difficulty of the addressing both sides of the problem.
That is encouraging and leads me to believe that this
question is going to receive attention, but the problem is
going to require involvement from the membership as a whole.
We're going to have to be prepared to enlist wider involvement
and perhaps settle, in the short term, for incomplete
solutions as we look for the modern definition of
- Brian Wyvill:
- I am very much in favour of open access. I would certainly argue for
this with ACM. Most academics enjoy access via their library but financial
pressures are affecting library budgets and these links are threatened.
There are a number of copyright issues surrounding this but it is such an
important issue to the whole community (industry and academia) it is worth
investing some time to explore the options with ACM. There is also the
Eurographics digital library. SIGGRAPH enjoys a special relationship with EG
and as I am also on the EC of Eurographics I would like to explore improved
access to this library in future negotiations.
- The transfer of copyright seems to be an old fashioned idea and I am
in favour of re-negotiating this policy. A limited licence is a better way
to approach this issue allowing authors to retain their rights but giving some
form of limited permissions to ACM.