Finding and using electronic books from the JHU libraries..


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.


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

  • Once downloaded, these e-book files are yours forever. They do not have DRM.

Loaned by Libraries

Public Libraries -- Most public libraries provide e-books via Overdrive or 3M Cloud Library, or both. To check out e-books from your county library, you must have a library card from them, and you must download either or both of these companies' software onto your reading device. These books have DRM.

Academic Libraries such as JHU's – 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.
  • Another example is the EBL (E-Book Library) service, to which we also subscribe. You must read EBL books with software or an app, because EBL 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. (See the EBL page for more information about how EBL works.)

Available Through Purchase or License

  • Many companies, such as Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Google Play 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.)