University Library

Responsible Use of Electronic Resources

Please be aware that excessive downloading can get your IP blocked! Read below for additional information.

Cal Poly Pomona's Appropriate Use Policy for Information Technology begins with the statement:

It is imperative that all users of the University's computing, communications, and information resources realize how much these resources require responsible behavior from all users. Simply put, we are all responsible for the well-being of the computing, network, and information resources we use.

This includes the appropriate and responsible use of electronic resources provided by the Library – the electronic journals, electronic books, and databases many of you use on a daily basis.

Publishers and content providers require us to sign license agreements as part of the subscription process. License agreements generally include provisions intended to prevent unauthorized use or redistribution of the licensed content.

What is unauthorized use or redistribution?

Details vary, but here are some general guidelines:

Usually it's OK to:

  • Make limited print or electronic copies
  • Use the material for personal, instructional, or research purposes
  • Share with Cal Poly Pomona students, faculty, and staff
  • Post links to specific content

In general, our license agreements DO NOT allow:

  • Excessive or systematic downloading or copying; for example, copying, downloading, or printing every article from an issue of a journal
  • Commercial use
  • Sharing copies with non-authorized users (people not affiliated with Cal Poly Pomona)
  • Posting content or articles to websites or listservs
  • Use in coursepacks without appropriate permissions

Inappropriate use impacts the entire campus

The consequences for violating terms of the licensing agreements can be very serious. When publishers and content providers detect inappropriate use of their content they will generally cut off our access to the journal or database. Often this impacts access to all journals from that publisher for the entire campus community.

For example, if a publisher detects that a member of the Cal Poly Pomona community is downloading every article from a journal, access to that journal will be suspended. If the journal is part of a publisher's package (e.g., Springer, IEEE), the publisher might also suspend access to all journals in the package. If the publisher's website hosts journals from other publishers, access to journals from those publishers might also be impacted.

Repeated violations can result in a license being permanently revoked.

Has this happened at Cal Poly Pomona?

Yes. We have had several license violations in recent years. For example, in late summer our access to all journals on the American Institute of Physics website was suspended because of excessive downloading from one AIP journal.

What are we doing to prevent this?

We are trying to educate the Cal Poly Pomona community about responsible use and the serious consequences of license violations. This webpage is part of our effort. We will periodically send informational emails to all faculty, staff, and students. Librarians will address responsible use of electronic resources in classes and workshops. We encourage faculty to address responsible use of electronic resources when making research assignments.

In addition, when the Library is able to determine that an individual is responsible for a license violation we will take steps to contact the individual and inform him or her about the license violation. We believe that most license violations are unintentional, that the individuals do not realize that their actions are viewed as violations by the publishers.

If repeated violations occur however, we will have to take further action by referring the case to Judicial Affairs, Faculty Affairs, or Human Resources. This is necessary to protect access for all Library users.

Publishers and content providers are very serious about responsible use. We need to take it seriously as well.

If you have questions about license agreements for specific resources, please contact Yvonne Zhang: or (909) 869-3107.

Related links