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This is the "DRM and Copyright" page of the "E-books @ the CIIS Library" guide.
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E-books @ the CIIS Library   Tags: e-books, ebooks, electronic books, online books  

This guide will cover how to find, use, and cite e-books at the CIIS Library (and beyond!)
Last Updated: Oct 29, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

DRM and Copyright Print Page

What Is "DRM"?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is technology that controls access to, tracks, and limits uses of digital works.

The technology is part of the digital item and goes along with it when it is distributed to the consumer.


In the Public Domain


If a book is in the public domain,” it means that it is not protected by copyright and anyone can use it.

  • These e-books can be downloaded from sites listed on our Free E-books page and from many other sites.
  • Once downloaded, these e-book files are yours forever. They do not have DRM.

*** Not *** in the Public Domain


Public Libraries -- Many public libraries provide e-books via a service called Overdrive. To check out e-books from your county library, you must have a library card from them, and you must download Overdrive Media Console onto your reading device. These books have DRM.

Academic Libraries such as CIIS  – Ways of access differ depending on what the publisher or vendor requires.

  • Some e-books must be read online via a web application or proprietary software reader. An example is EBSCO, for which CIIS subscribes.

  • Another example is the ebrary service, to which we also subscribe. You can read them online via a web application or proprietary software reader, but you must read downloaded ebrary books with software or an app, because ebrary books have DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection. Among other functions, DRM controls the length of time that an e-book can be viewed after you check it out.


  • Many companies, such as Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, Google Play, and sell e-books that you can buy.

  • Once downloaded, these e-book files are supposed to stay on your device for as long as you want them.

    But be aware that sellers have the ability to “take them back” – there have been a few cases in which books licensed through Amazon disappeared from their owners' Kindle readers AFTER being bought. If you buy or license an e-book with any DRM controlling access to it, make sure you know how long your access is supposed to last (remember that what you are usually paying for is a license to access the content of the book, not ownership of the book itself).

Reference Librarian

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Kelly Sundin
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