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Understanding licences, payment & DRM


If you bought a set of 30 physical textbooks for a class, the author, publisher and bookseller would be paid for each copy, and the books would be yours until they fell apart.

Ebooks are amazingly flexible compared to physical books, and they'll never fall apart! However their use brings up a few new questions. Suppose a teacher paid for just one copy of an ebook, but then gave out copies of it to each student, or screened it on a whiteboard for dozens of students to read? Clearly, to protect the legitimate rights of authors and service providers, the terms and conditions for ebook sale or rental transactions must be different from traditional book sales.

In this section we explain the different licences you can purchase, how buying and renting works, and the rules for downloading paid-for books.

Buying and renting

Teachers can choose to buy a title or rent it for various periods, depending on the individual publisher. Generally the periods are:

  • 7 days (week)
  • 30 days (month)
  • 100 days (term)
  • 365 days (year)

Licences and versions

Licence types

The publisher may offer one or more of these licences:

Individual user licence

This allows the ebook to be used by a single user. It must not be used on a whiteboard, projector or other whole-class teaching device. It must not be downloaded to any device that multiple users can access.

Whole class teaching licence

This allows the ebook to be used by a single user on a whole-class teaching device such as a whiteboard or projector. For a whole class teaching licence, there is a different version of the ebook. The content is the same, but make sure you choose the correct version.

School library licence

This allows an individual copy of the ebook to be rented to your electronic School library, for online reading only. Like having multiple copies of a physical book, you can purchase multiple licences for an ebook. For example, if you have 3 School library licences, up to 3 people at a time can borrow the book. At the end of the loan period (or when a loan is cancelled early), that copy of the ebook again becomes available for loan.

Format versions

Ebooks are available in either PDF or EPUB format, depending on what the publishers make available. PDF versions have fixed pages. EPUB versions, which don't have fixed pages, may display better on the smaller screens of mobile devices, as the text flows to fit the frame better, and may include embedded audio, video and animations from the publisher. 

Both formats can be 'worked on top of' by teachers to add their own annotations and quizzes using RM Books' Book Notes annotation tools. Both formats allow students to make their own notes within the books.

For more detailed information on licences, please see our Terms and Conditions.

Credit and payments

How RM Books payments work

It's free to set up an RM Books school account, and to select and allocate free books for viewing or downloading. Payment is only required for the purchase or rental of paid-for books, at the point when a teacher allocates an ebook. These payments are deducted from credit purchased for the school by an Administrator and allocated to teachers.

Note: Because an ebook file that has been allocated to a user can't be 'returned', you cannot cancel a transaction after you have confirmed it, nor can refunds be given.

Buying and allocating credit

Administrators can use a credit card or invoice to purchase credit for the school account from the RM Books website (the transaction is processed via the RM Education Shop, so login credentials are required for this). They can then allocate amounts of the credit to different teachers. See the Managing Credit help topic for more details.

Checking credit

Available credit is displayed in the top right corner of the web page.

  • For Administrators, this is the total remaining credit for the school account.
  • For Teachers who are not administrators, this is the remaining credit in their credit allowance.

VAT at 20% is chargeable on digital books. VAT is added to the cost of each credit purchase. The displayed credit does not include the VAT paid.

How payments are calculated

When you allocate a paid-for book, the payment options are displayed in a pop-up message. Select the type of transaction that you want and the number of licences. Multiple licences are calculated as (rate per licence) × (number of licences).

What DRM means to you

Because it is so easy to duplicate and distribute electronic files, copyright infringement can be a very serious problem for the publishers and authors of ebooks. Therefore our publishers require us to protect their intellectual and commercial property using Digital Rights Management (DRM) software.

The DRM protection in RM Books only affects ebooks that are downloaded. When you use the RM Books website, you can read the ebooks using most popular browsers, on any suitable computer or device. As long as you have an Internet connection, you don't need to download your ebooks. Reading via the online viewer should be your default way to access ebooks at school.

RM Books uses DRM software to protect downloaded paid-for books in PDF or EPUB format. The DRM protection works by controlling who the book is available to and what they can do with it.

To read protected ebooks you need to install an RM Books app (for Android or iOS devices). Our publishers set the usage restrictions - typically, readers can search text but not copy it, and they cannot duplicate the file or change its format.

The DRM works by linking together a user, an ebook file and a device. To read a downloaded book, the user must 'activate' or 'authorize' their device. Each user is allowed to activate up to three mobile (Android or iOS) devices for their RM Books account. Users should only activate RM Books on devices they personally own. You should deactivate a device if you're transferring ownership of it to someone else.

Please read our guidelines for when to use the offline Apps.

If you need more detailed information, please see our Terms and Conditions.