How to Remove the DRM on Any Ebook You Own

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is specifically designed to control the use, modification, and distribution of any copyrighted material and is now a common feature of everything from ebooks to music files.

Although it’s easy to understand why the rights holders are keen to protect their work, as a consumer, DRM is an extremely frustrating aspect of modern life.

In this article, we explain why removing DRM restrictions is important and show you how you can eliminate them on your own ebooks.

Why Remove DRM?

Underpinning the DRM problem is the issue of media ownership. Music, movies, and books that you buy from companies like Amazon are not technically yours—you have merely been granted a license to use the content.

Companies enforce these measures to ensure digital products circulate legally. If you don’t check if a video is copyrighted before using it, its unhappy owner could sue you. Even video games need always-on DRM as extra security against piracy.

The biggest downside is that companies often react to the slightest infraction and don’t always explain why. Put yourself in the shoes of one Amazon user who, in 2012, according to Bekkelund’s exposé, had her entire Kindle library (and Amazon account) permanently deleted for a supposed breach of terms.

We don’t know whether she did anything wrong, but we do know she was several hundred dollars out of pocket. All her beloved books were irrevocably gone, with no way to retrieve them.

Here’s what Amazon said in an email to her at the time:

Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.

While we are unable to provide detailed information on how we link related accounts, please know that we have reviewed your account on the basis of the information provided and regret to inform you that it will not be reopened.

The problem could have been entirely avoided if she had removed the DRM restrictions. Why? Because she could have backed up her files on her local machine. Amazon might still have deleted her account, but the content she spent so much money on would still be in her possession.

Different Types of Ebook DRM

Generally, ebooks use four different DRM schemes. They are:

  • Adobe’s ADEPT DRM: It can be applied to EPUBs and PDFs—most third-party ebook readers will be able to read it. Books purchased from Barnes and Noble use this format.
  • Amazon DRM: Amazon’s format is applied to AZW8, KF8, and Mobipocket files. Again, most mainstream readers can understand it.
  • Apple FairPlay DRM: Apple’s approach can only be applied to EPUB files and can only be read by Apple’s Books app.
  • Marlin DRM: An open industry group that includes Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, and Sony developed the Marlin system.

Getting to know these platforms helps you understand how to remove DRM protection in different situations.

How to Remove DRM From Most Ebooks

Given the diversity of ebook publishers and ebook file formats, it’s not surprising that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many ways to remove ebooks’ DRM.

If you buy your books through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the other typical well-known ebook stores, the best solution is Calibre.

Calibre is a free and open-source ebook library management application that’s packed full of useful features. For this DRM removal process, you’ll need Calibre and apprenticealf’s DRM removal plugins.

Install the Software

Install the software and fire up the app for the first time. When prompted, select which folders contain your existing ebook purchases. If you don’t have any yet, create one. You can change the setting later by clicking Calibre Library.

Next, you’ll be asked to select your eReader device. The list includes all the major manufacturers. Don’t worry if you have more than one device; you can change this setting to alternate between them later.

Choosing Ebook Device on Calibre

If you want to be able to send ebooks from Calibre straight to your device, fill in your associated emails on the next screen. For the purposes of the DRM removal process, you can skip this step. Finally, click Finish, and the app will boot.

Install the Plugins

Calibre supports a variety of plugins that perform different functions. To remove the DRM, you need apprenticealf’s DRM Removal Tool for Ebooks. The latest version is available for download from GitHub.

Download the file and unzip its contents. Now head back to Calibre and click the Preferences icon on the top menu.

Changing Preferences on Calibre Ebook Management App

Click Plugins on the bottom row of the pop-up screen, then select Load Plugin from File in the bottom right-hand corner.

Loading Plugin on Calibre App

Find your unzipped file and navigate to DeDRM_calibre_plugin > DeDRM_calibre_plugin. Click Yes on the virus warning that pops up, and you’ll be shown a message that confirms the successful installation. Per the on-screen message, restart the Calibre app.

Successful Plugin Installation on Calibre App

If you own a Kindle, there is one final step. In Calibre, go to Preferences > Plugins and expand the menu underneath File Type Plugins.

Selecting DeDRM on Calibre Plugin

Double-click on the DeDRM listing, choose eInk Kindle ebooks and add your device’s serial number. You can find your serial number on most Kindles within the device’s settings menu.

Selecting eInk Kindle Ebooks Option for DeDRM Plugin on Calibre

Remove the DRM

The tool will only work when you import books into Calibre for the first time. It will not work if you’re converting books between formats. Therefore, if you have already imported DRM books, you’ll need to remove them from the app and re-import them.

The DRM removal is the simplest part of the whole process. Just drag and drop your ebooks from your eReader (or local drive) into Calibre’s main window—the software will automatically delete the DRM. If you’re pulling them from a Kindle, drag all the files associated with each book and click None when warned about duplicates.

How to Remove DRM From Apple Books

Unfortunately, Apple users keen to remove the DRM from their ebooks face a much more limited choice of tools.

The most reliable method is to use the ViWizard iBook DRM removal tool. This will set you back around $30 with the discount, but if you’ve got thousands of ebooks, it’s a price worth paying.

After downloading and installing the app, you’ll need to download all your books to your local machine. Once you’ve got them saved, just drag and drop them into the DRM removal software and click Convert. Simple and effective, but unfortunately, it’s not a free way to get rid of DRM from EPUB files.

How to Remove DRM From OverDrive Ebooks

Many public libraries in the United States use the OverDrive system to let you rent digital copies of books. Books you borrow on OverDrive use Adobe’s DRM tool—but don’t worry, removing the DRM from library books is still possible.

Firstly, you need to download a copy of Adobe Digital Editions and open the ebook you want to edit within the app.

Next, download a copy of the EPUB DRM Removal tool. Open the app, select the EPUB file you want to work with from the Digital Editions folder, and hit the Remove button. Give the process a few seconds to complete, and you will have removed the OverDrive DRM. You should be able to send the ebook to your Kindle and read it without issues.

Only Remove Ebook DRMs for Your Personal Use

Remember, even though it’s not illegal, removing the DRM on library books is certainly morally questionable, especially if you intend to do more than just read them.

Think about your actions before you begin. For example, DRM removal will likely violate the ebook provider’s regulations, while sharing or using parts of the book risks copyright infringement.

To avoid bans and penalties, learn how to remove DRM protection from ebooks and use them safely.

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