Division of Information and Technology

Acceptable Use of Information

Acceptable Use of Information Resources Policy

Spring 1999

Preamble

The University of Southern Maine (USM) endeavors to develop and provide access to collections, services, facilities, equipment, and programs which meet the information and educational needs of the University community, and to advance the research, instruction, and service missions of the University.

In fulfillment of this purpose, and in response to advances in technology and the changing needs of the community, USM supports open access to information resources, including the Internet, to the greatest extent possible. In return, the University expects users of information resources to be aware of and act in compliance with all relevant federal and state laws, local ordinances, and University policies. It further expects its users to be familiar and to behave consistently with the several general principles which together constitute appropriate, responsible, and ethical behavior in an academic environment, particularly in regard to the use of the University's information resources. Those principles include: Freedom of Expression, Respect for Privacy, Respect for Property Rights, Respect for Personal and Cultural Differences, Freedom from Harassment, Respect for and Compliance with Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright Law.

The University affirms that it will be a partner with users in promoting education and understanding of the appropriate, efficient, and successful use of information resources.

Responsibilities

All users of University of Southern Maine information resources are expected to behave responsibly, legally, and ethically in their use of electronic resources. To that end, it is the responsibility of those users to:

  • honor all state and federal laws, copyright provisions, Board of Trustees policies, and software licensing agreements to which the institution is a party;
  • be aware of and comply with University and the University's agencies' procedures and regulations for accessing and operating computer and related hardware, software, and other information resources;
  • cooperate with legitimate requests by University staff;
  • take precautions to protect accounts and passwords by selecting obscure passwords, changing them frequently, and not sharing such information or the use of the accounts with others;
  • download information from computers to disk whenever possible, photocopy multiple copies, and otherwise limit printing to what is directly needed in order to conserve paper and to make the most efficient use of resources;
  • properly logoff or logout whenever leaving a computer in an area which is accessible to others; treat others with dignity and respect; respect the privacy and confidentiality rights of others, including their files and accounts; use USM's information resources only for purposes which are legal and consistent with the University's mission.

Consistent with the above, unacceptable uses and behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • damaging or attempting to alter computer equipment;
  • violating, or attempting to violate, computer system security;
  • violating, or attempting to violate, software license agreements;
  • incurring unauthorized or unreasonable costs for the University;
  • accessing files, data, or passwords of others without authorization;
  • disrupting or monitoring electronic communications without authorization;
  • harassing other computer users or University staff;
  • violating the privacy of others;
  • libeling or slandering others;
  • using any University workstation for any illegal purpose;
  • copying or distributing copyright-protected material without legal right or authorization;
  • intentionally and unnecessarily exposing others to material they may find personally unsuitable.

Results of Inappropriate Behavior

It is important to recognize that inappropriate behavior has an adverse effect on the work of others, on the ability of University staff to provide good service, and/or on information resources themselves. Thus it is expected that users of information resources at USM will be constructively responsive to others' complaints, and receptive to University staff's reasonable requests for changes in behavior or action.

University staff will attempt to resolve differences and problems among information users by asking for the cooperation of those involved, and for compliance with University policies.

The University will pursue infractions or misconduct that cannot be resolved informally with the general means it has available to it within the University and with law enforcement, as appropriate.

Serious infractions or misconduct may result in temporary or permanent loss of access privileges.

Guiding Principles

The University of Southern Maine supports the democratic principle of freedom of access to information for every citizen. The University endorses: the American Library Association (ALA)'s Library Bill of Rights; ALA's Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, adopted by ALA in 1996; and the EDUCOM Guide to the Ethical and Legal Use of Software.

The University does not attempt to limit access to, or otherwise protect, users of information resources from any particular materials available in any format, beyond the choices it makes in selecting materials or providing electronic links to information sources of particular merit.

USM does not monitor, and has no control over, information accessible through the Internet. The University disclaims any warranty for any information found on the Internet as to its accuracy, authority, timeliness, usefulness, or fitness for a particular purpose. Likewise, the University disclaims any control over, or knowledge about, changes in content to the sources for which it has established links, or for the content of sources accessed through secondary links.

Use of the Internet and all other information resources will be managed in a manner consistent with other USM service policies. This includes: the University's Student Conduct Code; the USM Library's Rules and Expectations of Appropriate Conduct (rev. October, 2011); and the UMS Sexual Harassment Policy.

The Internet contains much information that is personally, academically, professionally, and culturally enriching. It also provides material that may be factually incorrect, offensive, disturbing to some individuals, and/or illegal. Moreover, the Internet may not be an adequate substitute for many other kinds of information resources which may be limited by copyright or other restrictions to local use. Users of information resources are encouraged to ask a librarian for assistance in finding the best sources for their research.

While the University is committed to serving the general public to the greatest extent possible, it reserves the right to give priority in service to the USM campus community (students, faculty, and staff), especially in the case of a high level of demand for limited equipment and materials. This may include limiting the amount of time patrons may have to use certain information resources and supporting equipment. Moreover, access to some information resources must be limited to campus patrons, notably in cases of licensing or other contractual agreements with vendors.

The University accepts its responsibility as a United States Government Document Depository Library to make the documents it selects on depository status available to the general public regardless of the format in which the document is distributed.


© Copyright 1999
University of Southern Maine
96 Falmouth Street
Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104

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