Is NY Times Writer, DAVID POGUE Blaming Book Piracy on the Blind?

According to New York Times Writer David Pogue, after making his printed books available electronically to individuals who were blind, the books were pirated. He says:


Unfortunately, I’ve had terrible experiences releasing my books in electronic form. Twice in my career, ‘blind’ people e-mailed me, requesting a PDF of one of my books. Both times, I sent one over–and both times, it was all over the piracy sites within 48 hours, free for anyone to download.


…Unfortunately, the bad apples have once again spoiled it for everyone


I can totally understand a writer’s desire to protect their intellectual property, but to indirectly blame blind people for piracy, now that seems a little too far fetched for me. I am not doubting what the writer is saying, I am sure his work did end up being available illegally. However, I am doubting that the only possible way this could have occurred is from the request of two individuals who wanted to read his work, but the publisher did not make any alternative accessible formats available.


I hope it’s not just me who finds his words offensive, especially during this time when the blind community is fighting for access to information on so many fronts. I would hate to see  arguments like the one posed by Pogue used to restrict our access further.


Mr. Pogue should be aware that his latest book, “Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Leopard Edition ” is available via BitTorrent, a peer to peer sharing program. Wow, and according to him, it wasn’t even distributed to those pirating blind people! Ahrrrrrrrrrrrr!


Read the New York Times article: Can e-Publishing Overcome Copyright Concerns?

7 Responses to “Is NY Times Writer, DAVID POGUE Blaming Book Piracy on the Blind?”

  1. Ron Graham says:


    First, I’ve got to say that I loved that last little pirate dig!

    I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who read Pogue’s blog post on that subject. I’ve actually got it bookmarked and was going to write something on it next week. However, instead of that, I think I’ll just share my thoughts here.

    While he only gave out those copies in pdf format to those two people who were blind, I’d really like to think that those two didn’t make them available on a file sharing site. If one of them did, then shame on them. I think that doing such a thing when an author makes a special effort to get you an accessible version of their work is particularly egregious. Again, if they did this, I would hope that blind people everywhere would learn from this and keep in the forfront of their mind that it is essential to value and nurture the trust that is extended in situations such as this.

    However, I also believe that there are so many methods in this digital age to pirate copyright works that he is being very narrow minded to instantly point that finger conclusively at either of the blind readers. There are too many people in this world who possess the computer skills and tools that make it so simple for a knowledgeable person to crack a lock on a digital work. Its done daily, all over the globe. Its like the old saying that a lock is only meant to keep an honest person out. Somebody with nefarious intentions is going to find a way to get around that lock. And, I’m more prone to believe this is what happened to make Pogue’s work available on a file sharing site than one of the blind readers doing such.

    And, for added weight in considering my last explanation, how else can Pogue explain the latest book being on BitTorrent?

  2. T.Reid says:


    Please don’t let my writing this post stop you from doing the same on your blog. I think others need to know about this. Too often, our community is an easy target. People seem to think either we aren’t going to read it or we will simply accept whatever is said. I think it’s about time this changes. I can tell that you Sir, with that “advocacy hat” of yours feels similarly. At the very least feel free to point your readers to this post and your comments.

    BTW – I sent Mr. Pogue an email regarding his article as well as this post.

  3. Brandon says:

    because only blind people pirate books. Seriusly, it’s not like the first place a blind person will turn for OSX help anyways, neither is it for sited people.

  4. David Pogue says:

    There was only one source for the pirated copies–the two PDFs that I sent out–so the people who requested it were absolutely the pirates.

    But the title of your post shows that you didn’t really read very carefully. I made quite clear that these people were not really blind. So therefore my post says nothing whatsoever about actual blind people. I was commenting on people who PRETEND to be blind so that they can get free stuff. And yes, they deserve to be dissed.


  5. T.Reid says:

    Honestly, I am not sure how you can be so certain that the source of the piracy was the two pdf copies, were they watermarked. If there are other electronic sources available, even if “protected” they could have easily been the source. Either way, you’re right, they do deserve to be dissed!

    So I re-read your article several times and finally I read the word blind character by character and determined that you used single quotes. Users of screen readers such as JAWS, do not receive feedback when single quotes are used. This would explain why I did not realize you were implying not really blind.

    However, does not explain what led you to think the individuals were faking blindness. Maybe there was some other information in the letter that was not included in the article.

    Regardless to how you write blind or (single quote) ‘blind’ (single quote), I think it is a dangerous accusation, whether intentional or not. For the record, several sighted friends read the article and expressed concern.

    BTW – Glad to hear that you’re not blaming piracy on an entire community or for that matter any “real” blind people. I hope others reading your article (especially those in publishing with the power to make alternative formats available)see it that way.

  6. Chela Robles says:

    Well, then, it’s all settled now that we’ve gotten it all straightened out, reading that word “blind” in context is one of those mishaps. Good-Night, Grin

  7. T.Reid says:

    You’re right mis-reading single quote ‘blind’ single quote for blind is a mishap. I guess it’s just a hazard that comes with using screen readers.;)

    However, I really don’t think it changes the “danger” of the message. As difficult as it is for people who are blind or visually impaired to gain access to alternative formats, making this association between piracy and the blind or quoted blind can prove to be harmful in a communities quest for access. I probably wouldn’t have been so concerned if the article was written by any blogger, but it came from Mr. Pogue who has a huge following in the Times and elsewhere.