Responsible Use of Electronic Resources

The Washington State University 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 negotiate 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:

Do's And Don'ts

Usually OK

  • making limited print or electronic copies (such as single articles)
  • using for personal, instructional or research needs
  • sharing with WSU faculty, staff and students
  • posting links to specific content

Usually NOT OK

  • systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues or books)
  • selling or re-distributing content, or providing it to an employer
  • sharing with people other than WSU faculty, staff and students
  • 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Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.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.


If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact: Sam Lohmann or your Subject Librarian.