How do I remove pages from an ePub file? was closed as off topic.

The only reason shown is

This question does not appear to be about Ebooks, within the scope defined in the help center.

Why is it off topic the question to me is how to edit an eBook removing the first and last page. Surely that is on topic.

One comment is

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about activity of questionable legality.

Why is this of dubious legality? and where? In many places this is legal and for many books it is legal. This is much more legal than removing DRM which is definitely legal in some places. And asking about DRM is allowed on other SE sites see Jeff Atwood's answer here also other DRM questions on meta stack exchange here and Joel Spolsky's answer here

  • This question appears to be biased, so poses a problem for Meta voters (do I upvote it because it's an interesting question worth discussing, or do I downvote it because I - presumably - disagree?). As such, I recommend ripping out Jeff/Joel piece from the question and adding it (with quotes) as an answer supporting the "on-topic" option.
    – DVK
    Dec 23, 2013 at 14:16
  • Also, for clarity, the quetsion has been re-opened since having been closed. We still need to discuss the scope, however.
    – DVK
    Dec 23, 2013 at 14:17
  • Please don't equate the OP with simply "removing DRM". It's equivalent to "Removing DRM so I can give the DRMed work to others without them being bothered by DRM". Big difference.
    – DVK
    Dec 27, 2013 at 16:48

4 Answers 4


The question was closed, because some members misread the text. The core of the question is: How can I remove pages from an existing ebook in ePub format? This is clearly on topic.

@bungeshea gave additional information: the book is free and, the pages contain advertising. These facts are not necessary parts of the question, but some members blamed him to be a thief without any proof. That was very rude.

We might need a clear, written rule to prohibit such accusations. Well, we have such a rule already: Be nice. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.

  • 1
    In all fairness, "proof" was in his explanation. If a book is contains advertizing, it isn't "free". The cost of the book IS the fact that advertizing is displayed - which is a business model for much of TV, radio, web content and other media. So yes, cutting out advertizements just so you can give a "free-of-ads" book to someone else is tantamount to at best, unethical behavior, whether or not legally it rises to "stealing".
    – DVK
    Dec 27, 2013 at 14:29
  • In other words, he wants to prevent the ebook author/publisher from being able to monetize the consumption of the content. More likely than not, it would be against the license under which the book was made available. Either way, it's not a behavior one wants to encourage.
    – DVK
    Dec 27, 2013 at 14:32
  • 2
    @DVK Have you seen that license? No? Me neither. And the law of the author’s country might not apply to that of the reader’s.
    – fuxia
    Dec 27, 2013 at 19:17

(I'm adding an answer to avoid a lengthy comment discussion on Jon's - be warned, it's slightly tangential)

There has been some concern raised that the original format of the question implied illegal or unethical behavior on the part of the asker. That's a reasonable concern... But it isn't a concern that can be addressed here.

The original question hinted at an objective that was perhaps inappropriate; a skeptical interpreter might easily read into it the intent to violate copyright or at very least the wishes of the publisher.

But while clarification was requested, none was provided - and frankly, it's irrelevant: unless the process for removing pages is somehow different for a copyrighted ePub vs. a public domain one, the nature of the document is just a distraction.

The good folks here realized that, and edited it, and then re-opened it. Unless a question depends on a solid understanding of the copyright or license attached to a given book, I would recommend doing the same for similar questions in the future.

...and if you get one that does depend on such things, then we can discuss whether or not those topics are at all appropriate here.

For the record: our terms of service prohibit the use of this site to break the law (whose law is up for debate, but since we're based in the US...) It's up to y'all to decide what sort of questions are ethically sound, and what to do with them if they're not.


Our stance is pretty simple:

Therefore, unless the post looks egregiously illegal, assume it is being asked in good faith about removing DRM on things you own, for your own fair use.

The issue of DRM and the like came up several times in the Area 51 proposal as well. There's no particular reason to close a question simply because it might present a legal problem.

  • How is "I would like to remove these advertisment pages before passing the book on to someone else to read. How would I go about doing this?" not illegal? Dec 27, 2013 at 16:05
  • How is it illegal, @James? Barring any evidence to the contrary (for instance, the title of a work that is clearly still under copyright or a clear statement to that effect), assuming that this is the case seems overly-paranoid to me.
    – Shog9
    Dec 27, 2013 at 16:11
  • Jon - sorry but the OP very clearly stated that he was not doing it "on things you own, for your own fair use" - he was doing it to help in distributing to other people. "I would like to remove these advertisment pages before passing the book on to someone else to read. " was the exact quote. Shog makes an argument that's harder to argue against (the ads may be OK to remove, we don't know), but that's a different one from the one in your quote.
    – DVK
    Dec 27, 2013 at 16:51

Yes it should be closed as off topic.

As currently written and as suggested by comments, on it and here; as well as answser to the question If a book doesn't have DRM does that mean it is OK to give a copy to my friend to read? the question describes a scenario where the solution is illegal or unethical (depding on jurisdiction).

Questions specifically asking for assistance in removing any of these from an ebook, are out of scope.

  • Advertising
  • Copyright information
  • Authors name (or related contact info)

Questions on asking how to edit an ebook (without DRM) would generally be on topic, but the question defines an illegal or unethical goal.

  • For those who are only reading the discussed question's current form - the original (before editing) explicitly stated that he wants to remove advertisements "before giving to other people"
    – DVK
    Dec 27, 2013 at 15:48
  • 1
    @dvk The original message was actually a hypothetical situation that I invented to make the question make sense - it does not apply to me at all
    – shea
    Mar 6, 2014 at 20:38

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