Acceptable use of electronic resources

Electronic subscriptions are for UMN-related activities.


Users are responsible for following all relevant rules when using subscription resources from the Libraries. These rules may include details of subscription licenses, copyright law, and the university-wide policy on acceptable use of information technology resources. This page offers some general guidance on relevant issues. You can also contact us at if you have questions not covered here.

Most of our subscription resources (including journals, books, video, audio, etc) are licensed only for non-commercial scholarly and educational purposes. 

Our subscription resources are for use on- or off-campus by anyone currently affiliated with the University (students, faculty, staff), and by unaffiliated users who are physically present on-site in a library. 

Generally allowed

For all of the users mentioned above, the following activities are generally allowed. 

  • Use for coursework, scholarly research, academic exploration, and personal curiosity.
  • Sharing/saving/printing from subscription resources for your own personal use later on, or as needed to complete university coursework, research, or teaching preparation.
  • Sharing summaries or original analysis of material contained in subscription resources with external partners.
    • Citations, DOIs and links can always be shared.

Generally not allowed

For all of the users mentioned above, the following activities are generally not allowed. 

  • Commercial uses, even by University of Minnesota users
    • A university user who is considering developing a business related to their research may be able to do some preliminary research using subscription resources. Once the business exists, however, that would likely be a separate commercial use, and no longer appropriate
    • If you have a business separate from your University of Minnesota teaching, research, or coursework, then using UMN resources for your business is not appropriate
  • Systematic downloading or automated searching
    • Automated or systematic access is usually not allowed, but a few of our resource providers do allow this - check out the Text Mining Guide for more information
  • Regularly or extensively providing copies of subscription content to the public 
    • Summaries and brief excerpts usually may be shared with external research or coursework partners. Citations, DOIs, and links can always be shared
    • Whole works or extensive excerpts (including video or audio) should not typically be shared with the public or external partners, except to a limited degree with scholarly collaborators
  • Unaffiliated users accessing subscription resources from on-site for competitive business intelligence purposes, for themselves or someone else 
    • Unaffiliated users should also not systematically do research on behalf of people or organizations other than themselves. On-site access for unaffiliated users is for personal use only

Other options

The information on this page is general - that is, it covers a lot of common things people ask about, but not all things people might want to do. If you want to use subscription resources in a way you don’t see addressed on the list above, contact