I live in Canada, and I currently use a Sony Reader. My family keeps giving me Chapters/Indigo gift cards to buy books with, which used to be great when I had a Kobo reader and could get ebooks that way.

However, I have discovered that the Adobe DRM that Kobo/Chapters/Indigo use for their ebooks works in such a way that it isn't actually possible for me to put those books on my Sony Reader without removing the DRM.

This is incredibly unfortunate, as now I have books that I can't read unless I use Kobo's mobile/desktop apps. I know removing DRM is, well, not exactly looked positively upon by the companies, but do I have a legal leg to stand on if I am only removing the DRM for my own personal use, once I have already paid for a copy of the ebook?

  • I think that the answer depends from the nation you live in.
    – mau
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:25
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    I've mentioned I live in Canada - is that enough information? Or is this more of a hint that my question might be off-topic because it is dealing with one particular country? (I am new to this site, so I am not entirely sure of your rules on these sorts of things, yet. :) )
    – user151
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:26
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    I'd maybe add in the title the fact that you live in Canada, just to help people. I personally think your question is legitimate, but I cannot answer it (this is why I commented instead of answering :-) ) Let's put in this way: the DRM license prohibits to remove DRM, but a judge may override it, stating that the right to use a software you have is more important. Does Canada have common law? (I think so)
    – mau
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:36
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    @mau: I have added Canada to the title.
    – Jason Down
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:44
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    @AshleyNunn, your question is currently in scope. We are still developing and it might get chalanged later. But with the current trends it should be ok. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:34

3 Answers 3


Well, according to this blog, it says Bill C-11 (Copyright Modernization Act, which amends the existing provisions of the Copyright Act) has made it illegal to break DRM in Canada.

An excerpt from the actual Bill C-11 (Section 1f):

Bill C-11 prohibits the circumvention of any access control installed on a work, performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or a sound recording, even if the work subject to the digital lock is legally acquired.

The digital lock prohibitions in the Act could potentially “trump” or prevail over various exceptions in the Copyright Act, e.g. the fair dealing or educational exceptions.



You should read through the license agreement for the books, but it is probably the case that you don't own the books after get them, you just have the right to use them. And there are restrictions on what you can do with them and removing the DRM is probably not within your rights. Just like you can pimp your own car, something you cannot do with a rental.

But without the exact text of the agreement under which you get your books, the exact extent of the limitations you (have to) agree upon is difficult to say. (Including a link in the question might get you some more specific answers).

  • Where can I find the license agreement? Is that dependent on the book? the publisher? the distributor? the DRM provider? (I don't know a lot about this stuff.)
    – user151
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 20:14
  • Probably on the website where you get the books. Normally you are presented with some text that they have you confirm that you have read and promise to adhere to before you get the book.
    – Anthon
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 20:20
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    Rights are defined by country not authors or publishers. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 20:25
  • @JamesJenkins The problem is that the right of the owner of the book depend on who is the owner. If you pay to rent a car, you are not the owner and the right on what to do with the car lies with the rental agency (or their bank etc). Knowing, based on the license agreement, who is the owner of the material is crucial in determining what right the OP has.
    – Anthon
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 22:05
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    Ethically your answer is correct. But by the sames ethics for every work you download from Project Gutenberg you should be making and donation to the estate of the author. Every author did not decide that works created prior to 1923 would be in the public domain in the USA, Congress did. Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 11:23

Buying an ebook is not the same as renting a car. Buying means ownership. Renting means borrowing for a period of time. Then if I am buying an ebook then I am going to remove the drm. The right of ownership is the buyer. An ebook is no different than a physical book. Yes you can legally remove the drm in Canada.

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