Excessive Downloading: What You Should Know

Published on April 18, 2017

Have you ever received a notification saying, “Your IP address is blocked” or “This resource is currently unavailable due to suspected systematic downloading” when trying to access electronic resources through Western Libraries? If so, excessive downloading of licensed content is likely to blame.

Although the definition of excessive downloading varies from publisher to publisher, it generally applies to downloading a large number of articles within a short time period. To learn more about what is considered acceptable use, please consult our Licensed Use Guidelines for Electronic Resources.

It is important to know that excessive downloading is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem for universities around the world. In fact, just last month Western’s off-campus access to the Elsevier ScienceDirect journal platform was suspended for over 24 hours due to excessive downloading.

To put this into perspective, this suspension encompassed over 14 million publications, including more than 3,800 journals and 35,000 e-books. Other publishers such as the University of Chicago Press, Scopus, the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have also temporarily suspended Western’s off-campus access to licensed resources in recent months due to instances of excessive downloading.

Because a single suspected case of excessive downloading can prompt a publisher to temporarily block access for the entire Western community or even cancel our license altogether, your access to electronic resources could be disrupted through no fault of your own.
Still, there are steps we can all take to ensure that Western’s access to licensed electronic resources continues uninterrupted. First and foremost, it is crucially important to avoid sharing your Western username and password with others and to be on the lookout for potential phishing attempts. Please visit the Information Technology Services CyberSmart website for more information about cybersecurity.

We also recommend that users avoid downloading more licensed resources at one time than they could reasonably read over the course of several days. If you have questions about the license restrictions of a specific resource, please refer to the “Looking for an electronic resource license?” section of our Licensed Use Guidelines for Electronic Resources or contact your librarian.