Licensed Use Guidelines for Electronic Resources

Western University has negotiated, on behalf of its user community, many license agreements for electronic resources. These agreements outline terms of use and protection of copyright.

Publishers regularly monitor usage, and should unauthorized use be discovered and verified, permission to access a licensed resource can be blocked. Violation of a license agreement by one individual can potentially result in the cancellation of the agreement and the suspension of access for the entire Western community.

In accordance with the University’s Acceptable Use Agreement, it is the responsibility of each member of the Western community to ensure that electronic resources are used in an effective, ethical, and lawful manner.

Summary table

All of the following conditions must be met when making use of licensed electronic resources:

Conditions for licensed electronic resources
  Normally acceptable to: NOT acceptable to:

search, view, retrieve, and display licensed electronic resources for non-commercial personal, instructional, or academic research needs

use licensed electronic resources for commercial purposes, including for work that is unaffiliated with Western


download, print, copy, or temporarily save SINGLE COPIES of articles

download, print, copy, or temporarily save a reasonable portion of an e-journal or e-book (see Substantiality Guidelines)

engage in systematic or substantial downloading, printing, copying, or saving of content (such as entire journal issues, data sets, e-books, etc.) or use robots or intelligent agents to those ends


access licensed electronic resources remotely if you have a Western Identity (including a User ID and Password)

share Western Identity credentials with others


share persistent URLs to specific content with Western faculty, staff, and students in a secure manner, such that it would only be accessible to authorized users

transmit, disseminate, or otherwise make licensed electronic content available to unauthorized users or organizations, including through sharing content on insecure websites or listservs


quote or paraphrase licensed electronic content, with proper attribution of the original source (see the Citing and Writing page for more information)

fail to provide proper attribution of the original source


annotate licensed resources (e.g., highlighting, comments, notes, etc.)

modify or alter the content of licensed resources in any way

Avoid excessive downloading

Like Canadian copyright law, electronic resource licenses forbid the downloading of full-text articles or e-book content in quantities deemed unreasonable or excessive. As in the case of other unauthorized uses of electronic materials that breach license agreements, engaging in excessive downloading of licensed resources can result in the termination of access for the entire Western community. Should you require access to a substantial number of resources from a single publisher or database, please contact us.

Note: Using batch download features available through some citation management tools, such as Endnote’s “Find Full Text” feature, can also constitute excessive downloading and should therefore be used with caution.

Looking for an electronic resource license?

The Generic Western License outlines provisions typical of most electronic resource licenses.

To view the license for a specific journal or e-book, please use the Licensed Use Search tool to access the corresponding library catalogue record. Then click on the “Licensed Use” link located to the right of each of the online access points to view the terms of use.

License permissions can also be searched by the name of an entire collection or package of electronic journals or e-books, for example: Elsevier ScienceDirect.

Frustrated by license restrictions?

The open access movement takes issue with the restrictions associated with the for-profit scholarly publishing model and aims to make research openly accessible to all. For more information about open access and how you can get involved, visit the Western Libraries Scholarly Publishing pages.

Openly accessible scholarship from the Western community is also available through our institutional repository, Scholarship@Western.