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About the Libraries » Library Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines » Policy on the Use of Electronic Resources

Policy on the Use of Electronic Resources

University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
Policy on the Use of Electronic Resources

The UMass Amherst Libraries endeavor to provide access to electronic resources that support the research and educational needs of current University of Massachusetts Amherst faculty, staff, students and on-site users.  U.S. Copyright Law and contractual license agreements (see below) govern the access, use and reproduction of the electronic resources that the UMass Amherst Libraries make available to its authorized users. 


Reproductions (electronic or print) made by users of the UMass Amherst Libraries’ electronic resources are governed by the Fair Use Section (Fair Use) of the U.S. Copyright Law, except when the resources are covered by license agreements.  Reproductions made through printing or downloading are usually considered to be fair use if:


  • The use of the reproduced material is academic in nature, and for nonprofit, educational purposes.
  • The purpose of making the reproductions is for time shifting; that is, to make the materials available for study at the user’s convenience.
  • The reproduction is for a single copy as opposed to multiple copies.
  • The reproduction is reasonable in length in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

License Agreements

The use of many electronic resources provided by the UMass Amherst Libraries is governed by license agreements negotiated between the UMass Amherst Libraries and publishers or other third parties. Frequently these legally binding agreements impose greater restrictions on use than copyright law, and permit current student, faculty, staff and on-site users to access these resources for noncommercial, educational, scholarly and research purposes.  They generally prohibit large-scale downloading of articles or other information, sharing of articles or other information with individuals at other institutions, and using articles or information for commercial purposes.  Users should be aware that publishers may monitor the use of electronic resources to ensure that the terms of the license agreement are enforced.

Please Be Aware:

    1. Sharing an access password with unauthorized users, including family, friends or co-workers, may result in suspension or revocation of library privileges.  Non-affiliated users may access most electronic resources from computer terminals in a campus Library facility.
    2. Downloading entire issues of electronic journals, or attempting to create large databases from bibliographic or other data files*, is not permitted under either Fair Use or publisher license agreements.  Systematic downloading of content, either manually or with specialized software, is detectable by publishers and traceable to specific computer addresses.  Misuse of these resources can result in the termination of the license agreement and the loss of access to a resource by the entire UMass Amherst community.
    3. Engaging in actions intended to circumvent or defeat access control mechanisms of the Libraries or information provider may result in revocation of Library privileges and other campus disciplinary actions, as well as criminal prosecution.
    4. Sharing proprietary client software connected to information resources is also prohibited under the terms of academic licenses.

      The UMass Amherst Libraries expect users of electronic resources to be aware of and act in compliance with all relevant federal and state laws and University policies.  Access to and use of these resources is a privilege and must be treated as such by all users to protect the rights of the UMass Amherst community.  Questions about the appropriate use of licensed information resources may be directed to the Associate Director for Library Services.


      *Some licensed resources permit data or text mining of content for research purposes.  Please contact to inquire whether a specific resource allows data or text-mining.



      Revised March 25, 2004

      Endorsed by Senior Management Group

      Approved by the Director of Libraries, March, 2004

      Approved by Senior Management Group, June 23, 2010
      Approved by Senior Management Group, April 17, 2014


Last Edited: 12 May 2014