How does DRM work for training manuals?

Insights Blog How does DRM work for training manuals?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a series of techniques which help protect the intellectual property of eBooks including training manuals. Most training companies have had experience of abuse of their materials. Too often the attendee of the training course will use the materials provided to train others, robbing the creator of the training content, the compensation for their hard work.

Whilst there is nothing stopping someone photocopying a printed version of materials, when it comes to electronic versions the scope for copying and distribution is much greater. Simply providing a PDF with a password does little to protect the materials. Once opened the PDF can be renamed and resaved ready for use by any third party.

So how does DRM work?

The protection comes from the fact that we do not ‘send’ the recipient the file at all. What happens is that the recipient is given a window to view the file and work with the file but never actually downloads to their machine. Essentially there can be two ways of viewing the eBook:

ON- LINE DRM – the user is provided a link to a book shelf which is protected by a user name and password. The access allows them to view their book, make notes and highlight BUT since the book is not actually on their hard drive rather itis in their book shelf in the cloud, it is possible to restrict their ability to print, copy and forward the book. Printing restrictions can be set to allow zero print or perhaps 100% on one occasion, or just a few pages of print. This is set by the publisher for the book shelf in the cloud and cannot be over-ridden by the user. The setting allow the user to have full access to be able to do the work they require but does not allow abuse of the IP.

The other protection by using this method is that the user name and password can be given limitations. So the access might be limited to 2 or 3 devices - with any additional attempts on another device being blocked. This means an attempt to share a user name and password is thwarted by the access to the number of devices. In addition, access can be revoked by simply removing from the cloud, either by setting a time limit on the access or by manual intervention by the publisher.

OFF-LINE DRM – if the user wishes to be able to work off-line – reading their book and adding notes whilst not connected to the internet – then this is achieved by viewing via an APP. Downloaded from the usual APP stores the APP gives access to a book shelf off-line. Again the books, although download to the APP, are not accessible unless viewed via the APP and therefore the same restriction can be applied. The DRM can be set to limit the printing and copying in the same way as on-line settings. Revoking permission can also still happen, the moment the device is connected to the Internet again.

All the above forms of DRM are generally referred to as permission management –the alternative approach is to look at copy protection. This strategy controls access by preventing users from making copies of a work. They are typically implemented through encryption, which writes the digital content in a code that can only be read by devices or software with the key to unlock the code. This approach is also sometimes referred to as scrambling. Other examples of copy protection include digital watermarks, fingerprinting, and restricting copying features — such as rootkit software. PDI uses mainly permission management but we do also place a dynamic watermark in our eBook so that we can identify the source of any abuse. The watermark identifying the date and IP address of any abuser.

If you would like to explore the DRM protection for your training manuals then drop us a line and we will set up a no commitment trial for you. We can take your existing PDF training manual and convert it to a DRM protected manual so you can see the effect on your materials.


By: David Platt