Updated 26.09.2019

What does DRM mean?
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.

In order to protect eBooks against unauthorized copying, most publishers protect their ebooks with a digital management system (DRM). The DRM determines how the reader can use the acquired eBook. It can prevent copying, sharing and printing the protected eBook. Whether an eBook receives a DRM protection is decided by the publisher or the author.

There are two kinds of DRM:

Hard DRM

  • Technical encryption.
  • To open an eBook the help of an additional software like "Adobe Digital Editions" is needed.
  • A registration for an Adobe ID is necessary.

Soft DRM

  • Digital watermark.
  • In case of illegal spreading of content, the original owner can be traced via the watermark.    
  • Additional software or an Adobe ID are not necessary.


The Onleihe uses hard DRM which is provided by the company Adobe (Adobe DRM) and TEA (CARE DRM). This kind of DRM also allows to set the loan period of an eBook. Thus, Onleihe, libraries and publishers can ensure that the eBook can no longer be used after the end of the loan period.