Conditions of use and licensing restrictions for electronic resources


The Library subscribes to thousands of electronic journals, books, datasets, and other databases for use by authorized users (typically restricted to current faculty, students, and staff and, in most cases, on-site visitors). The terms and conditions for using these resources are set out in electronic resource license agreements that the Library signs with each publisher. 

Breaches of the university’s contractual arrangements with publishers could result in the suspension of access to the resources for the entire UC Berkeley community, and legal liability for the university or its users. It is the responsibility of individual authorized users to ensure that their use of electronic resources does not breach the terms and conditions specified in the license agreements. 

Licenses vary from publisher to publisher; however, in general the following applies:

Generally permitted

  • uses consistent with the Fair Use provisions of the United States Copyright Act (Have questions about fair use? Contact Scholarly Communication and Information Policy at
  • viewing, downloading, copying, printing, and saving a copy of search results
  • viewing, downloading, copying, printing, and saving individual articles
  • using e-resources for scholarly, educational, or scientific research, teaching, private study, and clinical purposes
  • sending a copy of an article to another authorized user (i.e. current faculty, students, or staff)
  • posting the URL to the publisher’s version of the article on a restricted class website (publisher links will allow only authorized users access)
  • modifying the resource format in compliance with accessibility laws

Generally not permitted

The following activities generally are not permitted. Further, engaging in any of the activities included in the list below may result in an immediate suspension of the patron’s access to online library resources.

  • use of robots or intelligent agents to do systematic, bulk, or automatic downloading of content in violation of a license agreement
  • systematic downloading or printing of entire journal issues or volumes, or large portions of other e-resources 
  • using e-resources for commercial gain (i.e. reselling, redistributing, or republishing licensed content). This includes using resources for internships and/or outside work not connected with degree requirements such as a practicum. 
  • transmitting, disseminating, or otherwise making online content available to unauthorized users (i.e. sending to mailing lists or electronic bulletin boards) 
  • posting the publisher's version or PDF of an article to a website on the open web (instead, post the URL to the article which will allow only authorized users access)
  • removing, obscuring, or modifying any copyright or other notices included in the materials
  • sharing passwords/log-in information with unauthorized users

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The University endeavors to secure AI usage and training rights across all of our e-resource licenses. However, the scope of AI rights vary, and licenses may not allow for use or training of their content with public versions of AI tools.

Before using artificial intelligence with any licensed Library resource, please contact us (see below) for more information about governing terms.

Ask Library staff

Do you have questions about whether a particular agreement allows what you want to do? 

Full licenses for many publishers, specifying all the terms and conditions, are available at their websites. Copies of agreements entered into by the California Digital Library (CDL) on behalf of the University of California system can be viewed at