Responsible Use of Electronic Resources

The University of Nebraska Lincoln Libraries contracts with a wide range of vendors and publishers to provide patrons with access to thousands of electronic resources (journals, ebooks, databases, and other online materials) costing millions of dollars per year.

U.S. Copyright Law (including provisions for “fair use”) and contractual license agreements govern access to, use of, and reproduction of these resources. The University Libraries and its partners aim to negotiate license terms that ensure the broadest possible support for the noncommercial research, teaching, learning, and scholarly activities of current UNL faculty, staff, and students (“authorized users”). Most licensed electronic resources can also be accessed by visitors on the Libraries’ premises.

Violation of the terms of electronic resource licenses by individual users may result in termination of access, for the individual and the entire University. Publishers may also seek legal recourse. Library patrons can help ensure compliance with license terms by respecting the following general principles for responsible use of electronic resources.

Permitted Uses

In general, electronic resources licenses permit authorized users to:

  • Download, temporarily store, and print copies of a reasonable portion of individual items from a licensed resource for personal academic purposes
  • Share copies of individual items with other UNL authorized users
  • Post links to licensed content on websites.

Prohibited Uses

In general, electronic resources licenses prohibit:

  • Commercial use or resale of licensed material
  • Sharing passwords, or allowing anyone other than authorized users to access licensed content
  • Sharing copies of licensed content with people other than UNL staff, faculty, and students (for example, on a publicly accessible website)
  • Modifying licensed material (for example, by removing copyright notices) or creating derivative works
  • Systematic or very substantial downloading of journal articles, electronic books, or other information
  • Use of robots, spiders, or other automated means to download licensed content.

Some electronic resource licenses prohibit posting copies of licensed content on other servers, even on course management systems like Canvas or for course reserves. In general, it is preferable to provide links to articles, rather than to download and post the files.

License terms covering text and data mining methods can vary widely depending on the resource. Users should contact the University Libraries to verify relevant license terms before undertaking text and data mining with licensed electronic resources.

Each licensed product may have more specific or additional permissions or prohibitions. Authorized users are encouraged to consult the Terms of Use listed on resource websites for information. In addition, use of electronic resources must comply with the campus-wide Policy for Responsible Use of University Computers and Information Systems.

Questions regarding allowable uses of specific licensed electronic resources may be directed to the Electronic Resources Librarian at

Other access or account questions may be directed to