Copyright and electronic resources

Electronic resources are protected by copyright law, in the same way as printed publications. Their use is also usually subject to the terms of a licence agreed between the University of Bristol Library and the publisher.

All users of these resources are required to comply with both the copyright law and publishers' licence terms. Any contravention of these terms which comes to the notice of the Director of Library Services may result in a withdrawal of all Library privileges (General regulations for the library services and facilities, section 3.8).

There are certain permitted acts which constitute exceptions to copyright law. These are limited and must be applied case by case. Statutory rights in respect of copying from printed works are also extended by the University's licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency. However, this does not give members any general right to store material in electronic form, to make any electronic copies of material, or to print from an electronic copy. Apart from what is permitted by the legislation, such use requires the consent of the copyright owner, which may be given by the publisher's licence.

Please note in particular that the following activities are prohibited by most electronic resource licences and agreements and are outside both the letter and the spirit of the legislation, unless specific approval has been obtained in advance:

  • making copies of entire issues or volumes of a monograph or a journal, whether in printed or electronic form.
  • making copies for commercial gain.
  • altering, hiding or removing copyright notices or other proprietary marks which appear within or alongside the content.

Most electronic resource sites include a link to the terms and conditions of the licence appropriate to that case. Where there is no such link, details may be obtained from our electronic journals team (

These notes are provided for guidance only and are not intended to offer a definitive legal opinion. For further information, see our general copyrights and patents page.

For general enquiries about copyright please contact John Hargreaves.

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