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Prohibited Uses and Excessive Downloading
The University of Hong Kong Libraries

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Information providers, publishers and vendors ask to be paid for providing their online databases, electronic journals, and other electronic resources. HKU Libraries have negotiated licenses with these vendors, and paid subscriptions to lease access to this data for the HKU community. Though each of these 1,000s of licenses read differently, they usually all have clauses to the effect that,

  • Yes, leasees (ie, HKU students, faculty & staff, and possibly walk-in users) can search the electronic resources for academic and research purposes
  • Yes, leasees may download citations and articles for academic research
  • No, leasees may not distribute to others materials downloaded from the licensed electronic resources for commercial purposes
  • No, leasees may not download 'systematically', or 'excessively' from the electronic resources


What does 'prohibited uses' mean?


In general, information providers’ licenses stipulate that the licensed electronic resources may be used for purposes of research, education or other non-commercial use. These might include downloading and printing a reasonable portion of the materials for personal studies and research; creating hyperlinks to them for use in connection with specific courses of instruction offered by the library and/or its parent institution.

Prohibited uses that clearly violate the licenses and are strictly prohibited include:

  • the sale of the licensed materials
  • bulk reproduction or distribution of the licensed materials in any form
  • modify, adapt, transform, translate, or create any derivative work based on any materials included in the licensed electronic resources
  • remove, obscure or modify any copyright or other notices included in the licensed materials.


What does 'systematically download', or 'excessively download' mean?


It means that users may not continuously download one article after another, one entire issue of an e-journal after another, the complete run of an entire e-journal, one after another. By extension, it also means that users may not set robots, spiders, or Web wanderers free upon their data repositories, to do this same systematic or excessive downloading. These information providers wish to protect their intellectual poperty. They do not wish to see their entire electronic resource, or massive chunks of the same, pirated away to be hosted on servers outside their control, and thus loose a potential revenue.


What will happen if prohibited use or systematic or excessive downloading happens?


If the vendor finds evidence of prohibited use, or systematic or excessive downloading, the vendor will contact HKU Libraries, the titular leasee of access to this data, and ask us for an accounting. The vendor will give us a log of the activities and based on the information, the library will track down the PC or workstation from which the offending activity initiated and the offender. The offender’s library privileges may be suspended and may face other disciplinary actions. The offender also faces possible legal or financial consequences.

In compliance with the contract between the vendor and HKU Libraries, the vendor may peremptorily and unilaterally terminate access to this particular electronic resource from _all_ workstations at HKU and any within its extended (HKUPPP) network. After this point, contracts from different vendors sometimes state various other legal and monetary penalties that could be invoked.

We ask for your compliance, so that all of HKU will abide by the terms of these contracts and continue to enjoy access to all of the electronic resources that they provide.