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Licensing Overview

Accelerate problem solving at your organization

The fastest, safest, and most convenient form of access to ACS content is by licensed organizational subscription. Learn what are and are not permitted uses.

Save money and accelerate discovery

Whether your organization is a corporate, academic, or government institution, licensed organizational access provides a wide array of benefits.

  • Time savings: Even after a scientist has located an article(s) they want, they spend hours trying to get access to the full text. Subscription access provides immediate and seamless access that can save organizations far more than the cost of a subscription by recouping lost time.
  • Trusted file security: People are resourceful and the internet offers many questionable sources of information. When a scientist can’t immediately get to content they need, they are often tempted to download it from an untrusted source. This can expose an organization to viruses, malware, and even copyright infringement action.
  • Trusted content: Reputable publishers like ACS maintain our content. If a scientist relies upon an external source for an article that is not maintained, such as an institutional repository or a personal web page, they may get out-of-date information or be unaware of a correction or retraction.
  • Enhanced clarity: Articles that are obtained from sources like institutional repositories are often copies of the original submitted manuscript and are void of improvements that arose from peer review challenges. They may not have all of the final data, high resolution images, and language/editing corrections and are often not formatted for rapid consumption.

How do I know if my organization needs a subscription?

It doesn't matter if you are employed or study at a corporate, academic, or government organization. If the intended outcome of your consuming ACS content is to advance a work- or study-related project or goal, then your organization needs to purchase either subscription access or individual article/book/chapter access.

The only exception is the consumption of content licensed as either open access or "free to read". At present, this only makes up a small percentage of ACS content.

Sample Access Agreements (Licenses)

As organizations consider subscription access, they often want to review licenses or terms and conditions. The samples below represent the most common licenses and terms adopted by academic customers.

Should you wish to initiate a purchase or subscribe to any ACS Publications products, contact your regional sales professional for an official quotation. After the official quotation is accepted, you will receive customized access agreement and terms & conditions documents. ACS requires an executed ACS Institutional Access Agreement (“Sales Agreement”) prior to activation of any online products. Should you have any questions about the agreements or need to request a change due to special circumstances, your ACS sales representative can help guide you through the process.

Sharing ACS Content

The best way to share ACS content is by sending a link.

We strongly encourage readers to share content by directing recipients to the location on the ACS Publications site ( where you found the article. This even applies to free-to-read and open access content. We do not recommend sending electronic copies (usually PDFs) by email. This is often not allowed and it can lead to sharing out-of-date content where the recipient might miss an important update or retraction. Some ACS content is referenced by regulatory agencies. This content is frequently updated and maintained.

By sending a link, instead of a static copy, the recipient will be granted immediate access to open and free content. For subscription content, they will be prompted follow the authentication method that matches their personal or organizational access agreement. If they don’t have appropriate access to the content, either by open access or subscription, they’ll be presented with options for gaining access.

This even applies in a teaching environment and when reusing portions of ACS content.

If you want your class to read an article, the required method of transmission is to distribute the link. Should you wish to reuse copyrighted content in other work such as charts and graphs, permission is required. Contact to inquire about terms for use.

If you want to use work you published with ACS Publications, you may reuse figures, tables, artwork, illustrations, and text extracts of up to 400 words, and data from your ACS papers for teaching or training purposes. You may also reproduce your own paper in courses you are teaching. Find out more about using your own published work at our publishing agreement FAQ page.

There are a few exception where article sharing is permitted:

  • Interlibrary loan allows for a limited number of exchanges of electronic or hard copies but is also limited to exchange between non-profit libraries.
  • You may provide print or electronic copies if you are responding to a national or international regulatory authority or if you are responding to an inquiry regarding your product that used ACS products as a reference.
  • You may provide hard or electronic copies to your legal council.

Use author links

Authors of ACS articles that do not elect to publish open access are still have the right to share up to 50 copies of their article via a special link that will give the recipient full text access. We encourage authors to promote their work this way. To learn more, see the ACS journal publishing agreement. Outside of purchasing open access, this is the only way to permissible way share via ResearchGate.

Use Copyright Clearance Center or purchase open access for bulk distribution

Subscription content may not be redistributed without paying appropriate copyright fees. By contract, open access content allows for broad consumption, and an open access license can also be purchased for any ACS article—even old ones. If you don’t want to purchase open access and still desire an affordable means for distributing subscription content, visit Copyright Clearance Center’s “Get Permissions” or contact for assistance.


Obtaining content from file sharing sites

The overwhelming majority of the ACS content found on file sharing sites was illegally obtained and is being redistributed without permission. Content not hosted by ACS is not maintained by ACS and consumers have no way of knowing if the content they get was retracted or corrected. Finally, in many cases, files supplied by download sites contain misleading modifications such as altered links.

Some of ACS's open access content may be legally supplied by article distribution sites, but we don't think there is any reason to go there for it. These files are often modified, may contain malicious code, and are not maintained. Why not get the real, maintained version for free?

Can I rely on content I find on pre-print servers?

In most cases, yes. ACS supports and sponsors the preprint server ChemRxiv as a means of expanding open science and facilitating the rapid dissemination of information. We invite the global community to take full advantage of this content but readers need to be fully informed of limitations.

Content found on servers is not peer reviewed. This means the content relies on the credibility of the authors who submitted it. Much of the content found on preprint servers will eventually be published in a peer-reviewed journal, BUT it is often substantially improved or expanded upon as a result of the peer review process. When it is published in a peer reviewed journal, reliability is a function of the publisher's standards and rigor.

Can I rely on content I find in institutional repositories?

In most cases, yes. But like preprint servers, it's reader beware. ACS permits authors of works to deposit a version of the final accepted manuscript into institutional repositories. This is not the final publisher-formatted version. It is often not as easy to read, is not maintained, and may not be fully trusted. It's up to the reader to vet the source of the content and determine if they can take risks (time, expense, reputation) on its degree of reliability.

Using Alternative Access Credentials

Academic (including adjunct or student access)

Academic access is only intended to aid the direct efforts of the school who subscribes. No school is permitted to resell, sublicense, or grant access to any corporate entity. If you are affiliated with both an academic institution and a corporate institution, you should only use the access method supplied by the institution to do work for that institution.

Retrieving articles from academic access to aid in corporate research is not permitted and may lead to suspended access and increased fees for the school, company, or both. We routinely monitor this behavior and report it to both impacted institutions.

ACS Publications offers a variety of products to fit the needs and budget of every organization including deeply discounted options for startups and sole proprietors. Contact your representative for more information on options available to you.

ACS Membership Access

ACS membership benefits allow members to access a limited amount of information for their personal scholarly pursuits. It is not intended or licensed as a replacement for an institutional subscription for active researchers. If your work is intended to aid your employer, this is not a permissible route of access.

Saving and Warehousing Articles

Unless collecting open access articles or permission is explicitly granted to an organization via an ACS license, warehousing ACS content is not permitted, and this applies to content obtained through third parties.

Its important to note that ACS has not granted to any third party provider, such as document delivery services, the right to subsequently offer to their customers any expanded rights, such as permission to warehouse ACS content or to perform bulk data operations on ACS content. Doing so may result in termination of access to ACS content or other legal action.

License Enforcement

As a mission-driven organization dedicated to providing scientific information, our first priority is to help people and organizations stay in compliance and have the information they need to make good decisions. As open access progresses, the challenges related to theft or improper use of scientific content are expected to ease.

ACS Publications articles are intellectual property, and there is a cost to developing the highest quality content in the world. To ensure our content stays high quality, we need to be able to generate income to offset the costs such as review coordination, hosting, and article preparation. ACS Publications, along with other publishers, takes aggressive legal action around the globe to address egregious violations.