DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. Digital products such as MP3s, movie files, computer games, or eBooks are provided with DRM protection so that they cannot be easily duplicated and distributed illegally. The rights holder can set the DRM individually. For example, online rental films have a DRM mechanism that allows the film to be viewed only for a certain period of time (for example, 48 hours or seven days, etc). So DRM protected means that the digital contents are protected by the rights holders. Copying and distributing without permission is strongly prohibited.
With the necessary expertise and tools, it is possible to remove DRM protection from files. However, this is not advisable, especially from a legal point of view, as it infringes copyright. This applies in particular to the reproduction and distribution of digital products. Copy protection, after all, DRM exists for a reason and helps the industry to continue producing content.
Rightsholders (authors/publishers) can control the use of digital media. This is to control the copying of the eBooks, their resale, and also their expression.
Another protective mechanism is digital watermarks (“soft DRM”). Transfer-related data (with information about who bought what and where/order number, which can be traced in case of illegal transfer and reproduction) is stored as a watermark on the pages. Many publishers are working to replace the hard DRM protection with the “soft” watermark.
In contrast to the paper book, when buying a digital work, one does not acquire the right of ownership, but only a license to use it. In this case, an eBook is almost never in the customer’s possession – the buyer may only use it (in accordance with the seller’s terms and conditions). Usually, with hard DRM, this means that you can use the file for an unlimited amount of time, but it is bound to a predefined user account (of the shop). The use of eReaders (e.g. of friends and acquaintances) that are not linked to the customer account is therefore not possible. Usually, you can use the files on up to six different devices (with the same account). If you’re interested in getting your content protected you can try our Watermark service.
Types of DRM
Hard copy protection
Hard copy protection does not prevent copying the e-book. However, it prevents copy-protected e-books from being read on unauthorized devices. You can find out which devices support the various copy protection systems below. This means that you can’t just copy copy-protected e-books from a friend and then read them on your own devices.
Another standard is to use a watermark in the e-book. The watermark is included in the e-book, but you don’t usually see it when reading. From the watermark, you can identify the buyer, because it contains, for example, the order number in encrypted form. This is to prevent buyers from distributing the e-books to many people. If the e-books appear in exchanges, you can trace the original buyer. Watermarks are also known as soft copy protection. You can read e-books with watermarks without restriction on any number of devices. Unless the e-books use a hard copy protection type at the same time. Watermarked e-books can be copied as often as you like. There is no technical protection to prevent this. Watermarks are designed to prevent copies of the e-books from being passed on to other people, as they can find the buyer. Only watermarked e-books have the advantage of legally converting them to other formats compared to e-books with hard copy protection. For example, you can convert an e-book to EPUB format so you can read it on a Kindle.
No copy protection
All well-known shops also offer copy-protection-free e-books. In well-known online shops, you can’t filter search results after the use of copy protection.
How do I know if it’s DRM protected?
In order to recognize the use and type of copy protection, the product information of the e-book is available. It usually explains clearly whether and how the e-book is protected.
It’s not so easily recognizable at Amazon. There we proceed as follows:
- Choose an e-book and scroll to the Product Information
- If there is the simultaneous use of devices: No restriction, the e-book is copy protection-free. If you can’t find this text there, the e-book has hard copy protection from Amazon.
If you get an ACSM file when you download an e-book in another online store, Adobe uses the hard copy protection. More information can be found below. If you already have the e-book on your computer, you can see the use of copy protection with the program calibre.
- If calibre is installed, open the program.
- Drag the e-book to convert into the surface of calibre. Alternatively, you can click Add Booksat the top left, select the e-book, and click
- The e-book is now published at calibre. Double-click the e-book.
- If the file does not have hard copy protection, it will open and you will be able to read the book. For hard copy protection files, the following message appears: This book is protected by DRM. To learn more about DRM and why you can’t read or convert this book to Calibre, click here..
Adobe DRM Protected
E-books by Bookland, Weltbild, Kobo, and eBook.de for example have hard copy protection are protected by Adobe DRM. You will need an Adobe ID to read adobe DRM e-books in these cases. If you want to borrow e-books through the on-loan, you also need an Adobe ID. How do you get an Adobe ID? You can simply visit adobe and create one. Creating the Adobe ID is free and easy. With an Adobe ID, you can use e-books on 6 devices at the same time. If you’ve accumulated more devices over the years, you can contact Adobe Customer Service.
From the ACSM file to the EPUB
An ACSM file (abbreviation of Adobe Content Server Message) is just a reference to the EPUB file. When you open ACSM file, the actual eBook is downloaded from a remote source via the Internet. ACSM files have an average size of 1-5 KB. To get the EPUB, you have to open the ACSM file with Adobe Digital Editions:
- Create an Adobe ID.
- Install the free Adobe Digital Editions.
- Launch Adobe Digital Editions. Click Help at the top, and then click Authorize Computer….
- Click Continue and enter the Adobe ID and password. Now press Authorization.
- Open the ACSM file with Adobe Digital Editions. For example, you can do this: In Adobe Digital Editions, go to file at the top and then add to library. Then select the file and press Open.
- The e-book in EPUB format is now downloaded automatically. (PDF files can also be protected by ACSM.)
Amazon DRM Protected
Amazon uses its own copy protection. However, this only becomes noticeable if you want to convert e-books from Amazon to another e-book format. If the e-book is DRM-equipped, you cannot convert the book.
When do you convert the format? If you’ve downloaded e-books from Amazon and you’re using an e-book reader that’s not from Amazon. If the e-book is copy-protection-free, you can convert the format.
Amazon allows you to read an e-book on 6 devices at the same time.
Copy-protected amazon e-books can be read by logging in to your Amazon account on your readers.
Apple DRM Protected
Apple uses its own copy protection system. If the purchased e-books are DRM protected, they can only be read on Apple devices (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Mac).
Apple e-books can be used on 5 devices at the same time.
Copy-protected apple e-books can be read by logging in to the readers with your Apple account.