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Iowa State University

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Licensing of Electronic Resources
09-Oct-2013 Newsletter article

In order to improve immediate desktop access to journal articles, the ISU Library has converted many journal subscriptions from a paper format to an electronic format. One consequence of this conversion is that the Library must sign a license on behalf of its users that regulates the use of this material. These licenses specify allowed and prohibited usage of the products.

ISU patrons, for instance, are allowed to access and download, or print, "reasonable" portions of the product. A forbidden behavior outlined in nearly all licenses is a systematic downloading from the product. Also prohibited is the use of any automated tool or application to facilitate searching and downloading material. These prohibitions include the use of "spidering" or web crawler applications. Publishers monitor the use of their products and when they detect suspicious activities at a particular IP site, they immediately block access to that product and request that the Library investigate to see if it is an innocent mistake or a security breach.

The Library's license typically requires a prompt investigation of these situations, and serious breaches occur a few times each semester at Iowa State. It is important for the ISU community to understand that the Library must adhere to the terms of hundreds of licenses that are kept on file. Individuals should refrain from large-scale downloading of material from the Library’s electronic resources as this may jeopardize access to important research materials by the rest of the ISU community.

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