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Use of Library Electronic Resources

Posted: Nov 10, 2015

Use of library databases and electronic journals is governed by U.S. Copyright Law and contractual license agreements. Virtually all the electronic resources made available by the Rensselaer Libraries are not owned, but licensed, by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. License agreements serve as a contract between the intellectual property owners and the Institute. The terms of these licenses specify, usually in very detailed language, who is permitted to access the information and how it may be used. While these license agreements vary in specific terms and conditions, the following guidelines provide a general overview of what is and isn’t permitted.

Who can access?

  • Currently enrolled students
  • Current faculty, students, researchers and staff
  • Patrons in the library

What is generally permitted?

  • Searching, viewing and browsing the content of the electronic resource.
  • Use of the content only for educational, scholarship and non-commercial research purposes.
  • Downloading, saving and printing limited data or articles in compliance with the “fair use” provisions of Copyright Law.
  • One, not multiple, print-out or copy of an article.
  • Off-campus/remote use is available for many, but not all electronic resources.

What is generally prohibited?

  • Copying or downloading entire issues of a journal, collections of data, or attempting to create large databases from bibliographic files.
  • Any systematic or substantial downloading -- manually or with specialized software -- of articles or other information. Such actions are detectable and traceable to specific computers.
  • Sharing of passwords or authorized access codes.
  • Modification of data or images from the resources.
  • Redistribution, reselling or commercial exploitation of content.
  • Removing, modifying, or obscuring copyright notices or other notices and disclaimers.


When publishers detect illegal activity, access may be blocked for all Rensselaer users. Access is restored when the publisher is convinced that appropriate action is being taken to address the problem. We are legally obligated to track down the person responsible and take appropriate action. This can vary depending on circumstances, but may include barring access to Rensselaer computing and library facilities and services. Copyright violators may also be subject to civil actions by intellectual property holders in addition to, or independent of, Rensselaer’s actions.

This page is maintained by John Dojka.

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