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Research Guides

E-books: DRM

This is your guide to electronic formats, digital rights, and downloading library e-books for use on the go.


DRM (Digital Rights Management), also known as “digital lock”, is information technology, used by publishers and copyright holders to control what users can do with their intellectual property, no matter where the work is located.

Different types of DRM

There are different types of DRM, used by different content providers:

1. Amazon uses Amazon DRM on Kindle books.

2. Apple uses FairPlay DRM on e-books, music and video available on iTunes.

3. Some providers of Library e-books use Adobe DRM on EPUB and PDF e-books.

Ways in which DRM could limit user access

  • Number of simultaneous users;

  • Number of views;

  • Duration of access;

  • Type and number of devices, allowed to display the work;

  • Printing and copying capabilities;

  • Modification/altering capabilities;

  • Extent of content.

Adobe DRM

  • Restricts the period of access. At the end of the lending period, the DRM component discontinues access and the book is automatically “returned” to the Library. The files remain physically on the borrower’s computer, but they are rendered inaccessible and need to be deleted.
  • Restricts the number of reading devices the book can be shared with. Adobe DRM allows the user to share an e-book with up to 6 reading devices (including computers and supported portable devices) as long as they are all authorized with the same Adobe ID. To create a free Adobe ID click here.
  • Prevents the user from copying, printing or altering the content.

Adobe DRM is used by e-content providers ProQuest, EBSCO, OverDrive, etc.

Director of Information Resources and Systems

Maria Savova's picture
Maria Savova
Collections and Technical Services
Honnold Library, 2nd Floor
(909) 607-1828