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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.

Excessive Downloading

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

  • Rapidly downloading one article after another
  • Continuously downloading tables of contents, search results, citations, or output
  • Downloading entire issues or volumes of an e-journal
  • Downloading the entire contents of an e-book or multimedia resource
  • 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 very quickly notice this behavior and cut off access to that resource for our entire campus! They will require the Library to make sure the person doing it is made aware that their actions are illegal and 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 certain period of time because of such inconsiderate behavior!

Repeat offenders will have their remote access privileges suspended for a period of time determined by the Library, and their Department may be notified.


If you have questions about any of these issues, please call the Information Desk at 2358-6760, or email

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last modified 14 March 2017