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Responsible Use of Online Resources

Excessive downloading of content from Library electronic subscriptions is illegal! Such behavior seriously violates the license agreements, and leads to severe consequences that affect the whole university.

License Agreements

The use of Library-subscribed electronic resources (databases, e-journals, etc.) is governed by license agreements negotiated between the HKUST Library and the publishers/vendors.

Almost all of these licenses include a clause that subscribers (that includes all current students, faculty and staff, along with all other on-campus or otherwise authorized access) may not engage in “systematic” or “excessive” downloading from the resource.

Some publishers allow licensed text and data mining. Go here to learn more.

Excessive Downloading

Here are some examples of what the publishers mean by “excessive downloading”.

  • Rapidly downloading one item after another
  • Continuously downloading tables of contents, search results, citations, or output
  • Downloading entire issues or volumes of a journal
  • Downloading anything in excess of what the content provider allows (e.g. a book has a 90 page download limit)
  • Using robots, spiders, or other automated programs to download from subscription resources

Other License Violations

Other actions which would also violate our licenses include:

  • Sharing passwords with unauthorized users
  • Redistributing information from online resources to unauthorized users
  • Posting information retrieved or downloaded from online resources to a listserv, on a website, or to an email list
  • Reselling, redistributing or reproduction of any journal text, output, search results, or other information in any form or medium
  • Redistribution of materials to non-subscribers or to non-subscribing institutions


Publishers and vendors quickly notice this behavior and cut off access to that resource for our entire campus!

They then require the Library make sure the person  doing it  (the offender) is made aware that their actions are illegal. The offender must also give their assurance that they will not do it again.

It usually takes a lot of time and negotiation to resume the access to that resource. In other words, all HKUST users lose access to the resource for a period of time because of such inconsiderate behavior!

The Library will give the offenders 10 demerit points, with follow-up according to the Library Action Table.


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last modified 19 April 2024