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Educating Patrons Re: Access Violations

:: Alice Trussel, Director of the Fielder Engineering Library at Kansas State U, posted a fascinating e-mail on ELDNET-L today, regarding the fallout from a patron committing an access violation (aka systematic downloading) on an ASCE journal last week.

We had a patron commit an access violation on an ASCE journal last week, quickly creating access havoc for engineering building IPs. We were able to quickly track down who, when and where, and the patron candidly admitted doing the deed. He had downloaded several consecutive issues of a journal to make access "handy." He had no concept that this systematic downloading was illegal, because in looking at the main page of the journal as well as any of our library pages, nothing was posted clearly saying "Don't do systematic downloading--it's illegal." I've been campaigning for our library to create a page that clearly states what constitutes an access violation, but I'm running into people who respond with "Of course it is on the publisher's page. All they have to do is click on the 'terms of use' link and read that systematic downloading is illegal." & "Everyone knows that is illegal."

The rest of us know that NOT everyone knows & we realize that patrons will NEVER click on the terms and conditions link, so this leads me to two questions:
1. Do any of you have a specific page devoted to defining what is and is not allowed in downloading journals? If so, could you respond with a URL so that we can see what you have posted? (NOTE: Alice's e-mail is alitrus AT ksu.edu)

2. Could we, as professionals, create some momentum to get publishers to put some noticeable line or warning on the main electronic journal pages so patrons can clearly see what is acceptable use and what will create an access violation? Something along the line of "NOTE: Systematic downloading of entire issues and volumes violates the rules of agreement and can cause your institution to lose access."

I think our situation was exacerbated by the fact that this was an international student, and feel that it is possible that international students may well have a different cultural concept of copyright issues and access violations. That makes it even more imperative that we clearly communicate what's allowed and what isn't.

Thanks for your thoughts and feedback.
The same thing happened to us last year, so I was interested in the responses. Here is the feedback so far:

1) Douglas Morton: We at the University of Waterloo had that happen about three times last year and it sure knocks the stuffing out of your work schedule!

We have license notes on our pages and ASCE does have a “terms of use” page, but as you said – who reads it. Also, in our case as yours most of the incidents involved international students; would you recognize what “no systematic downloading” meant if it were in a foreign language? (U of Washington Library has what I consider a well done usage guidelines page at http://www.lib.washington.edu/cms/usageguidelines.html)

After a couple of incidents happened close together I fired off a message to IOP (the server for ASCE & ASME) agreeing that it was their right to do this but that it disrupted their lives as well as ours. I suggested that they install a second counter that about the 75% mark of the shutdown threshold they send the (mis)user a warning telling them to slow down. All I got by way of response was “we’ll pass it up the chain”. Sigh.

2) Morag Mackie: Hi. Here at Glasgow (Scotland) we experienced this problem a couple of years ago. We made available the following web page http://www.lib.gla.ac.uk/Resources/downloads.shtml, and also publicised this quite a bit at the time. However, I don't think it's as prominent on our web site as it could be!

3) Mel DeSart: A common theme that we at UW have heard about the kind of usage guidelines that Alice has asked about (and this point was mentioned in Morag Mackie's reply from earlier today), is that even if you HAVE guidelines like we do (Doug, thanks for the plug of our page), it still doesn't do you much good unless you can get them to where users read them.

But, per a note from Diane Grover, UW's Electronic Resources Coordinator, and the person who created the UW guidelines page), Innovative Interfaces (our library systems vendor) is arranging so that something can be done about that. In III's Release Silver, scheduled for June 14th, a link to those guidelines will be added to catalog records that have 856 links in them, meaning thousands of links from individual catalog records to those guidelines, where now there are only a handful of links, and none from individual catalog records.

4) Randy Reichardt: I will echo what Douglas wrote. We had someone systematically download articles from an ASCE title last fall, and IOP shut down access to all ASCE journals in one IP range on our campus until we reported back to them about why it happened.

Like others, we have Conditions of Use information on our pages, and ASCE, for example, has a link to Terms of Use from each of their journal pages. But as Douglas says, who reads them? In our case, it was an international student from Asia who did was not aware that systematic downloading was not permitted.

I'm sure Alice would appreciate further feedback on this issue, so if you have comments, please add them here and/or send them to Alice.

Aside: Congratulations to Mel, who is the 2004 Homer I. Bernhardt Distinguished Service Award recipient, presented by the Engineering Libraries Division of ASEE.

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