(Reliably) removing DRM from books distributed through Adobe Digital Editions

2020-02-04

Those who have had the misfortune of using Adobe's Digital Editions to download and/or read DRM-'protected' books will know how unenviable this process can be. Fortunately it is fairly easy to remove DRM from the downloaded files so you can view them like any other.

I might update this page later to describe the process in more detail, but the short answer is to download the books using Digital Editions on Windows/macOS (I have tried on Linux using WINE and failed), then use Apprentice Harper's DeDRM tools with Calibre to remove the DRM.

Problems with newer versions of Digital Editions

Sometimes the DeDRM tools don't seem able to remove DRM from books downloaded using newer versions of Adobe Digital Editions. The solution is to use an older version; I have uploaded a verbatim copy of Digital Editions 2.0 available here.

Metadata

Calibre likes writing metadata into ebook files; if this is an issue for you, fortunately it's relatively easy to disable this behaviour. You should avoid opening the downloaded books in Calibre's ebook viewer if at all possible, and disable Update metadata in saved copies under Preferences -> Import and Export -> Saving books to disk.

Is this legal?

In short, I think so. I'm not aware of any UK law forbidding the removal of DRM from legally downloaded files, and this can be neccessary in order to make copies of books as permitted by 'fair use.' However, copying books beyond the extent permitted by 'fair use' is illegal. HOWEVER, I am not a lawyer and take absolutely no responsibility for the consequences of following the instructions described here.

Copyright notice

The copy of Adobe Digital Editions provided here is © Adobe and all other respective owners. I do not claim any responsibility for it; I am only hosting a copy of the software which was made available for free by Adobe but was subsequently removed from their website. If you are a rightsholder and would like to request the removal of this material, please write to the contact email address listed here.

The information is provided here "as is", without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. In no event shall the author be liable for any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with the information.

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