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Use of Electronic Resources at AU Library

Rights and Responsibilities

American University Library licenses a variety of electronic resources (e-journals, e-books, databases) from information vendors and scholarly publishers on behalf of the AU Community. The agreements that govern use of AU Library’s e-resource collections are subject to U.S. Copyright Law as well as the contractual terms in the license which stipulate access, use and reproduction by AU’s community of users, commonly referred to as “authorized users”.

If these license terms are violated, information vendors and scholarly publishers have the right, per the contractual terms, to temporarily suspend access for a specific user or the entire AU community of users. In some cases, access can be permanently revoked. It is important that all AU authorized users abide by Copyright Law and the contractual terms found in license agreements to ensure interruptions in access to the e-resource collections do not occur.

Here are some general rights and responsibilities governing the use of the electronic resource collections:

Usually Allowed

  • Making limited print copies or digital downloads of electronic material (e.g. single e-journal articles or e-book chapters). The number of pages that can be copied or downloaded varies by vendor.
  • Accessing and using electronic material for personal, teaching and research needs
  • Sharing electronic material with other authorized users
  • Hyper-linking to electronic material
  • Citing electronic material

Usually not Allowed

  • Systematic or excessive print copying or digital downloading of electronic material (e.g. downloading an entire e-journal or e-book)
  • Utilizing AU’s electronic resources for commercial purposes (e.g. redistributing or selling electronic material for profit)
  • Sharing electronic material with non-authorized users
  • Copying electronic material and posting the actual content to listservs, websites or social networking tools
  • Modifying or creating derivative works of the electronic material

Grey Areas

  • Some licenses allow inclusion of the electronic material in course reserves, course packs and multiple copying for classroom use and interlibrary loan (ILL); whereas, other licenses explicitly forbid one or more of these activities.

For questions or more information on AU’s electronic resource collections, please contact Michael Fernandez, Electronic Resources Librarian at