What are licenses for electronic resources?

The Simon Fraser University Library has contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers that provide the campus with thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year. 

In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates license agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. Only currently registered faculty, students or staff will be registered with the proxy server for off-campus access. Access for the general public is made available through terminals within the Library. 

Here are some rules of thumb for good practices and avoiding improper use. Improper use, known as a license violation, can result in the university’s temporary, or permanent, loss of access to a resource.

Do's and don'ts

Usually OK:

Not OK:

  • Making a limited number of print or electronic copies for your personal use
  • Systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues)
  • Using materials for personal, instructional or research needs
  • Selling or re-distributing content, or providing access to someone outside of the university community, such as an employer
  • Sharing with SFU faculty, staff and students
  • Sharing with people other than registered SFU faculty, staff and students except via interlibrary loan.
  • Posting links to specific content
  • Posting actual content or articles to third party web sites or listservs
  • Modifying or altering the contents of licensed resources in any way

Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources. 

Please note: Some license agreements make express allowances for electronic reserves (including posting to a learning management system), course packs and multiple copies for classroom use. Other licenses may prohibit one or more of these activities. If you have questions about a particular resource, please consult the A-Z Journals Listing in the Library Catalogue. Descriptions specify the allowable terms of use to copy material for use in electronic reserves, course packs and interlibrary loan. If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact the Electronic Resources Librarian.