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Responsible Use of Electronic Resources

The University of Washington Libraries contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers to provide users with thousands of electronic resources (databases, abstracts, e-journals, full text, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year.

In addition to paying for these resources, the Libraries typically negotiates license agreements that stipulate how and by whom they may be used. If license terms are violated by anyone, licensors usually have the right to temporarily suspend access for the entire University community! In some cases, licenses can be permanently revoked.

You can help prevent problems with our electronic resource providers by adhering to "good practice" and avoiding improper use. Here are some good rules of thumb:




making limited print or electronic copies
(such as single articles)

systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading
(such as entire journal issues or books)

using for personal, instructional or research needs

selling or re-distributing content, or providing it to an employer

sharing with UW faculty, staff and students

sharing with people other than UW faculty, staff and students

posting links to specific content

posting actual content or articles to web sites or listservs


modifying, altering, or creating derivative works

Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.


GREY AREAS: Some resources allow inclusion for electronic reserves, course packs, and multiple copies for classroom use and interlibrary lending. Others explicitly forbid one or more of these activities.

Sharing with non-UW users: This means peer-to-peer informal sharing for research, teaching and educational purposes.  For example, if you are working with a colleague at another institution, and wish to make him/her aware of an article of mutual interest, you may send that article in print or electronically if this use is "allowed".  Some publishers do not allow sharing with non-UW users, and only allow this activity with other authorized users within the University of Washington community.

Course Reserves: Most electronic resources may be used for print or electronic reserves.  If "Course Reserves Allowed" is indicated, then copyright clearance has already been granted.  Reserves, both print and electronic need to be secured, and not made available on the open web.

Course Packs: Some electronic resources allow for limited portions, such as a single articles from a journal, to be reproduced and provided to students in a course pack.  If "Course packs allowed" is indicated, then copyright clearance has already been granted for this use. In nearly all cases, course packs must be provided on a cost recovery basis only, and not sold for profit.   If "Course packs not allowed" is indicated, then the material needs to have copyright cleared with the publisher before proceeding with inclusion in a course pack.

If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact us.

For more information, see UW Technology's Appropriate Use of UW Resources.