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Subscription-based and licensed electronic resources

When a copyright owner publishes material online without access restrictions, there is generally an implied right to access that content (and it is usually permissible to share links to it). However, there is no implied right to make copies without permission – and doing so may breach copyright law.

When access is restricted, for example due to a registration requirement or paywall for a subscription resource, it is never permissible to circumvent those restrictions (for example by sharing a link that bypasses a site’s technological protection measures, or by creating and sharing a PDF copy or printout).

The University subscribes to a number of online resources with licence conditions governing the way in which staff and students are permitted to use the content. Some subscription databases limit permitted use to personal research activity only, prohibiting the sharing of downloaded copies (for example, by upload to a Virtual Learning Environment). However, most of these electronic resources – e.g. e-journal databases – provide a fixed, shareable, direct link (or ‘permalink’) to the individual works they contain, enabling members of the University to access the item directly upon logging in.

Although some Library E-resources are subject to less restrictive licence terms, all module convenors are asked to link to electronic resources (preferably via an online reading list, although it is also possible to provide links via Blackboard), rather than uploading copies of database content to Blackboard. This avoids the risk of infringement and ensures consistency of student experience in the delivery of module content.

Before making use of a subscription resource, you should always read the paragraphs in the terms and conditions indicating what you may and may not do. Some licence agreements are stricter than others and require you to link to pages (or even only to the homepage) rather than copying or re-posting the material.

For ways to use electronic resources in Blackboard, see Linking to e-resources in Blackboard.

For more general teaching support, see the Support for your teaching' section on the Library's Information for teaching staff page.