Responsible Use of Electronic Resources

Stony Brook University  Libraries contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers to provide users with thousands of electronic resources (research databases, eJournals, abstracts, full text, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year.

In addition to paying for these resources, the Libraries typically negotiates 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 by adhering to best practices and avoiding improper use. Here are some good rules of thumb:


making limited print or electronic copies
(such as single articles)
systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading
(such as entire journal issues or books)
using for personal, instructional or research needs selling or re-distributing content, or providing it to an employer
sharing with SBU faculty, staff and students sharing with people other than SBU faculty, staff and students
posting links to specific content 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Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.  The University Libraries guide to Citations & Plagiarism.

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.

Sharing with non-SBU users: This means peer-to-peer informal sharing for research, teaching and educational purposes.  For example, if you are working with a colleague at another institution, and wish to make him/her aware of an article of mutual interest, you may send that article in print or electronically if this use is “allowed”.  Some publishers do not allow sharing with non-SBU users, and only allow this activity with other authorized users within the Stony Brook University community.

Course Reserves: Most electronic resources may be used for print or electronic reserves.   Reserves, both print and electronic need to be secured, and not made available on the open web.

If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact us.