Copyright,  Educational Technology,  General

Fair Dealing, Contracts With Publishers and Linking to Journals

[social_share/] [social-bio] By Charlene Sorensen

The Copyright Act contains a clause that allows for “fair dealing” in formal educational settings. This means that a non-substantial portion of a published work can be re-distributed to students enrolled in a class provided that neither password protection nor digital locks are circumvented. Non-substantial roughly means an article from a journal volume, a chapter of a book, or short excerpt (less than 10% of the overall work). Similarly, “direct linking” or “deep linking” to a particular piece of content within a website (i.e. giving the exact URL of a PDF file containing a paper within a journal) is acceptable provided that neither password protection nor digital locks are circumvented.

Please note that some of the library online journal holdings have contracts with publishers that limit how the resource can be used. Some agreements with publishers prohibit the direct distribution of PDF files to students in a class. Some agreements limit library reserve holdings, and some agreements prohibit direct or deep links to articles within a journal. So you may be breaking an agreement/contract with a publisher (a civil offence and a violation of the digital locks Copyright Act) while thinking you are acting within the law.

Some examples of publishers that do not allow direct linking include American Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, ASME, CSIRO, Harvard Business Review, Hein Online, Optical Society of America.

It is therefore important that you check each journal title individually through the library website and familiarize yourself with any restrictions to usage before disseminating the information to your students. You may verify the usage rights in several ways:

To search for a journal title use the E-Journals tab on

E-Journals Tab

Entering the journal title in the search query box will connect you directly to the usage rights page. The information below the title will denote whether or not you can link to the resource based upon the license agreement.

Available Journal Options

If you use USearch to retrieve your articles, usage information will be presented to you once you click on the article title in your results list. If an article is available in more than one database, you may be able to choose the one that is more lenient with linking.

USearch Tab

If you are searching directly in a database (e.g. PubMed, MLA International Bibliography), click on the “Find it!” button and the next screen will display the usage rights information for that article.Below is an example of the e-journal Harvard Business Review, showing the usage rights information. Note that one source does not allow direct linking (red “x” to the right of the word “link”), but the other one does. More information about usage rights for an individual title through a particular source/publisher can be seen by clicking on the green highlighted link to “More info”.

More InfoFor information on direct/persistent linking, go to

If you have any further questions, please contact your Liaison Librarian

Please remember that violations of our license terms by anyone can result in the loss of access to that resource for the entire university community.

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