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Copyright Information: Journal databases and electronic resources

What is a "license agreement"?  

A license is an agreement where the owner of something grants another person permission to use that thing.  In the copyright context, licenses are agreements where the copyright owner permits others to use their copyrighted materials.  Some licenses grant a wide range of rights, and some only grant a narrow range.  

The MRU Library enters into licenses with a variety of vendors and publishers, and these licenses provide access to millions of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.) to MRU faculty, staff and students.

Each vendor and publisher sets use restrictions on their materials (which are negotiated with the MRu Library).  Therefore, it is not possible to make general statements about the uses of electronic resources - rather, it is necessary to check the terms of the particular resource you are accessing. You can use the Find Journals by Title search tool to look up information and view 'Terms of Use' for specific titles, or consult your subject librarian for information on how to find permitted resources for journal databases.

If the terms of an MRU electronic resources license are violated by anyone, publishers may temporarily suspend access for hte entire MRU community.  In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the publisher may cancel the license or impose additional restrictions.

If you have any questions about a particular electronic resource or an MRU digital license, please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at or your subject librarian.


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Why does the license agreement matter?

The permitted use of electronic resources varies according to the terms of the license agreement MRU Library has with each particular vendor.   The license agreement determines who can use the electronic resource, and what we can do with the material. 

It is important to carefully review the permitted uses for your chosen material (journal article, e-book, etc.) before creating print handouts, course packs, or Blackboard sites. For more information on determining license agreements, go to Using MRU Library's Electronic MaterialsPlease also remember that failure to comply with the terms of the license agreement can result in the loss of access to that resource for the entire MRU community


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What about e-books and other electronic resources?

E-books and other electronic resources are also subject to the terms of license agreements.  These terms can vary widely, so it is best to examine the terms of use for each. This may require some digging in some cases. If you need help determining whether your can use a work in a particular manner, contact the Copyright Advisor at


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Can I hyperlink to the electronic resource (so my students can access it themselves)?

Yes! In general, the safest and easiest way to share journal articles, book chapters and other online content with your students is to provide them with a link to a library resource. That way, students can download, read, and make a copy of the item for their own personal use, which does not infringe copyright.

Electronic resources already subscribed to by the Library, or freely available on the web, may be linked to in Blackboard or a course website (see the ADC's Tutorials on creating persistent links and the Library's Permalink Builder). This method creates stable links that allow students to access library-licensed electronic resources on and off campus. Ask your subject librarian for assistance with creating permalinks.


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Have a copyright question?

If, after browsing this guide, you still have questions or require additional information please contact, or 403.440.6618.

Student drop-in office hours on the main floor of the RLLC will resume in September, 2019.