Specifically I am looking at this paper, but I've seen these in other papers too. At the bottom of the first page, it has some metadata and copyright information:

enter image description here

© 2019 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM.

1549-6325/2019/02-ART29 $15.00


ACM Transactions on Algorithms, Vol. 15, No. 2, Article 29. Publication date: February 2019.

I understand the copyright notice, and the DOI, and the human-readable citation information. But what is going on on the second line, besides year, issue number, and article number? What is 1549-6325? And what, if anything, costs $15.00? Is the $ character being used to mean something else here?

  • In itself that doesn't seem illogical However, if the article is being copied at all, what difference could it make whether the copy was sent out as a pile of paper, or a digital file ? Oct 23, 2022 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


This is called a Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) fee code.

When you request a book via Interlibrary Loan (ILL), the lending library physically mails the book, and eventually receives it as a return. Today, when an article is requested, the lending library scans it and sends the PDF. (It used to be photocopied and mailed). This is far more efficient than mailing the whole journal two ways.

However, because the article is being copied, it may exceed fair use and become a copyright violation. In 1978 the Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works studied this issue and provided guidelines on how much copying should be seen as permissible by libraries. The suggested limits include that a library can request five articles per title per year, among other conditions.

When these fair use conditions cannot be met, (e.g. a sixth article is requested) a copyright license must be obtained. The fee code line indicates the publisher has set up a voluntary agreement through the Copyright Clearance Center to collect a $15 royalty for this license. The other information is used by the CCC to identify the article and determine which publisher to remit the fee to. The fee code may be listed on each article, or it may be listed in the printed front matter to apply to all articles. I believe this scheme also applies to certain other library photocopying cases outside fair use, like making a copy for course reserves.

Including the fee in print is from the days before the Internet. The library would make a list of all fee codes that were due and send it with payment to the CCC.

Today, we have online systems. In your example, you can search the DOI through the Copyright Clearance Center Marketplace. If you go through the wizard and select "Report interlibrary loan borrowing", you will see a $15.00 per-copy fee, plus a CCC processing fee.

CCC Rights Marketplace screenshot

You can read about this process in the article "Pay-per-view in interlibrary loan: a case study" (J Med Libr Assoc. 2012 Apr; 100(2): 98–103.) This article points out that the listed cost plus CCC service fee is often higher than purchasing the article direct from the publisher.

  • 3
    By the way, for practical purposes: don't ever pay this fee. Even if you can't get access from the journal, just write an author and they'll usually be happy to email you a copy (perhaps a slightly pre-official version, but often the actual published version). Oct 24, 2022 at 16:12

I haven't noticed this before, but it does match the cost of the individual article for a non-member who does not have access:

enter image description here

Click "Get Access", "Get this Article". You may need to access from a different device/location or at least an anonymous browser session if your institution subscribes to the journal.

My suspicion, though this is far outside my area of expertise, is that they are including this amount in the document as a marker of its value alongside the copyright notice, such that if they were to bring a lawsuit for violation of that copyright, they can point to that amount directly and claim in court that the person they are suing clearly knew of it's value ("it says $15 right there! you posted it on your website and it was downloaded 10,000 times and so you owe us $150,000") rather than having to provide separate documentation. I have no idea whether this is actually legally useful, or just a suggestion from someone who thought it was legally useful but has no better legal background than me.

For the rest of the numbers:


Anyon points out in a comment that 1549-6325 is the ISSN for ACM Transactions on Algorithms, in addition to the 2019 = year, 02 = issue, and then this is the 29th article in the issue. Overall it seems like this is the publisher's internal system of shorthand for identifying a specific article and would be unique for every article they publish.


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