Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources

Electronic resources made available by the University Libraries to Twin Cities Campus students, staff, faculty, and other authorized users, are for activities that support the University's mission. Contractual license agreements and U.S. Copyright Law govern the access, use, and reproduction of these resources. In addition, use of electronic resources must be in compliance with the campus-wide policy on Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources and related standards.

Licensed Electronic Resources

Access and use of many electronic resources provided by the University Libraries are governed by license agreements negotiated between the University Libraries and publishers or third parties. In general, these legally binding contracts allow students, staff, faculty, and other authorized users to access these resources for non-commercial, educational, scholarly and research purposes. Users of library-licensed resources must comply with the terms of agreements and be aware that publishers may monitor use of electronic resources to ensure that the terms of their licensing agreements are enforced. Breach of license may lead a publisher/vendor to turn off the University's access without warning.

In using licensed electronic resources, users must:

  • familiarize themselves and comply with license terms associated with specific resources (note: in many cases, license agreements impose greater restrictions on use than does copyright law);
  • limit uses to non-commercial, educational, or personal research purposes;
  • not engage in systematic downloading of licensed content (e.g., downloading entire issues of electronic journals or large-scale downloading from databases to create other collections of data);
  • not distribute copies of material to individuals or groups outside the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, unless the license for the resource specifically allows it;
  • not share client software used to search licensed resources with individuals or groups outside the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; and
    give proper attribution when quoting from material.

Note: Many licenses prohibit the downloading and posting of licensed content on another server, even if for use in course web sites or course reserves. In general, it is preferable to link to articles (using an appropriate authentication mechanism) rather than to download and post articles to a server.

Copyright and Electronic Resources

The copying of electronic resources made available by the University Libraries may be governed by both license agreements and U.S. Copyright Law. When electronic resources are licensed to University Libraries, any copying and distribution is limited to the extent permitted in the license. When use of a specific electronic resource is not governed by license agreements, the provisions of U.S. Copyright Law, alone, control the making and distribution of copies.

U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.) provides exceptions to a copyright owner's exclusive right to reproduce a copyrighted work. Section 107 permits fair use copying for certain purposes, including instances of non-commercial personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Making reproductions of copyright-protected electronic resources, even those not covered by a license agreement, requires permission from the copyright owner unless the copying qualifies as a fair use.

Reproductions of electronic resources made by University Libraries for any of its users are made only to the extent allowed in the resource's license agreement or under the provisions of copyright law, Section 108. Reproductions made by University Libraries under copyright law are provided to users with the understanding that copies will be used only for private study, scholarship, or research; and that those copies will become the property of the user and not be reproduced for further distribution.

Additional Information Resources