Adobe Content Server Copying Permissions

Adobe Content Server Copying Permissions


Some time ago we posted an overview blog article on Adobe Content Server Permissions. As one of the three follow-up posts, this blog will cover what happens when you apply certain combinations of permissions to a book and try to do certain things with that book. This post in particular is the last in the series and will cover copying permissions. It is not dependent upon the previous post covering reading or the post covering printing. However, if you are new to ACS permissions, it may help to read our permissions overview blog first.

We’ll start with the glossary to define some terms, followed by a few use cases. Afterwards we’ll explain some of the caveats and best practices for using reading permissions.


Before getting into things, it might be helpful to cover some basic terminology. Some of these may be obvious, but it’s worth listing them out to clear up any ambiguity between similar terms. (This glossary is the same in the other parallel blog posts, so skip it if you’ve read those.)

ACSM File – the download token generated when the user clicks the GB Link at the store.

Fulfill – to open an ACSM file and have the reader application communicate with the ACS server to download a book.

Open – to “double-click” an ACSM file or to perform a similar device-specific operation on the file, which does not necessarily imply a complete fulfillment; it is possible that opening an ACSM file will result in fulfillment errors in which case a fulfillment may not occur.

Side-load – to copy a book from a desktop reader application (like Adobe Digital Editions) to a tethered device connected via a USB port. Or, in more general terms, copy a fulfilled book from one device to another.

Re-download – to download an ACSM file using a new link; the new link will use the same resource ID and transaction ID (and thus have all the same restrictions) as the original download link, but will count as a “fresh” link as far as link expiration is concerned.

Use Cases

Below are the results of applying certain permissions to a book, then attempting to fulfill and perform actions on the book. For these tests, unless otherwise specified, the books were fulfilled in ADE first on one desktop computer, then an attempt was made to fulfill them on a second computer. Under unrestricted conditions, the book would open fine on both devices.

Copy 1 time, any number of devices, no expiration:

• Can copy and paste once as expected. When attempting to copy a new set of text, no error or warning is given. However, this new text will not be placed on the “clipboard”. When pasting again, the text from the first copy will be pasted. The text can be pasted any number of times without restriction.
• The second device will always have 0 copies available if the book has already been fulfilled. This is the case if no copies have been used on the first device or if the book is re-downloaded on the second device, similar to print permissions.

Copy 5 times (any devices, no expiration):

• Issuing a copy command on the same text multiple times will result in multiple copies. The count is decremented on a per-command basis and doesn’t differentiate between highlighted text. Once the available copies are used up, this behaves similarly to the case above.
• As with 1 available copy, the second device always had 0 copies available for the book.

Copy 5 times, accrue 1 copy per minute, 5 copies max (any devices, no expiration):

• First 5 copy operations on first device behave as above.
• When the book is opened on the second device, it will still start with 0 copies available. However, it will accrue 1 copy per minute up to 5 available copies maximum. Afterward, it will behave as normal.

Notes on Copy Permissions

Previous notes about printing and viewing apply to copying as well. The number of copies is stored locally, as with printing. Accrual for copies also works the same as it does for printing.

Another thing to keep in mind about copying is that any amount of copied text will count as a single copy. With most reader applications, this means that a maximum of a single page can be copied at a time. ADE, at least, does not allow text selection over multiple pages. So in most cases, you won’t need to worry about a user copying an entire book in a single copy operation.

Additionally, it should be noted that books will re-accrue copies after they have been used up. This results in the user being able to perform a single copy operation per accrual period indefinitely, or at least until the expiration of the copy permissions. The “maximum” number only applies to how many copies can be “saved up”. If you set accrual, you will not be able to set a limit on how many copies can ultimately be performed, but only how quickly they can be performed.

Finally, ADE (the released version as of this posting) has a little quirk in one corner case of how it displays allowed copy permissions. If you happen to have two copies of the same book in ADE — the exact same book, with the same resource ID, downloaded with the same transaction ID — then the number of allowed copy operations displayed between them will be cumulative. However, performing a copy from one of these books will decrement the counter on both books. In reality, the user will not get extra copies, though it may look like it at first.

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