There are two types of DRM used in CloudPublish to protected downloadable PDF files, which are known as:
- "Hard DRM"
- "Soft DRM"
In both cases, files are encrypted. However, in the case of "Hard DRM", extra software beyond a standard PDF reader is required, namely Adobe Digital Editions (or a compatible ereader app, of which many exist).
By default, either "hard" or "soft" DRM is automatically applied, and which kind depends on the type of item (see below). Of course it would also be possible to offer items for download with no DRM at all.
This requires PDF files to be downloaded to Adobe Digital Editions, or to a compatible ereader app (such as BlueFire on Android). The benefits (above the standard benefits of reading PDF content, such as the ability to see the original print layout) are:
- eBooks can be loaned for fixed periods of time, after which the eBook can no longer be opened.
- eBooks are invisibly protected, and appear identical in all respects to the original file.
- eBooks are locked to a specific user (defined by their Adobe ID) and cannot be copied to devices not linked to that user.
- Fine-grained control is possible over copy-and-paste and printing.
- Adobe Digital Editions provides a useful offline bookshelf function.
The clear disadvantage is that the eBooks can only be opened in Digital Editions or a compatible app. While this is widely-used software, it is not without problems, and you may face additional user support overheads.
With "soft" DRM, the downloaded PDF files can be opened on any PDF reader software; this is the main advantage over "hard DRM". The other advantages are:
- Some control over PDF functions is possible; printing and/or copy-and-paste can be enabled or disabled. However, if enabled, there are no quantity limits (unlike with Adobe's DRM, in which limits of quantity and limits over time can be specified).
- eBooks bear a visible watermark along with visible information linking the downloaded item with a specific user at a specific time and from a specific IP address. These watermarks cannot be removed and serve as a disincentive to copy/share the files.
The disadvantages are:
- Enforced loans are not possible (i.e. books that expire - become unreadable - after a period of time)
- Files can be copied any number of times, although they will continue to bear the watermarks.
CloudPublish DRM options
Both "hard" and "soft" DRM is available for eBooks, eJournal Issues, and eJournal Articles (essentially, any item which has a corresponding single uploaded PDF can have hard DRM applied).
For eChapters, only "soft" DRM is available.