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Thread: Unethical Free Information?

  1. #11
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    Regarding "knowledge" in the sense of the e-books, training videos and programs outlined above, I think that often there is a distinction to be made between whether you are actually paying for the "knowledge" itself, or rather the collation of the "knowledge"

    For example, many IT-Sec related books and video training materials are, on a simplistic level, just reiterations of already freely available "knowledge", to be found legally and freely through other channels, such as websites, forums, mailing lists, etc.
    In such a case, I would have to say that it is still reasonable to expect to pay for the time and effort spent by the author in collating the "knowledge" into an easily accessible and digestible format.

    Usually there is a choice of doing the "leg work" yourself, or buying the prepared materials.

    Some materials are actually unique works of study, or unique works of programming, etc, in which case you are actually paying for the "knowledge" or "information" itself (or at least the ability to use it)

    I would say that it is still reasonable to be expected to pay for the actual unique information itself, because put simply, it's the authors own unique work, performed as a means of income.
    Obviously other factors are involved, such as returning on any financial investment undertaken by the author, and so on, further entitling them to expect a financial gain.

    As for a non-monetary based utopia - the internet has gone quite some way to providing alternative means of freely and legally accessing information which may otherwise had to have been paid for.
    Again, for example, take the C|EH CBT's - you could probably find most, if not all, of the information covered in this series through alternative freely available means, scattered around the internet.
    But again, we're back to the question of "is it worth it to you?" to save the time and hassle and just buy it in a pre-compiled easily digested and consistent format?

    It's hard to make a justifiable and convincing argument for making compulsory free access to absolutely all and any material.........

    Just some "off the top of my head" observations...........

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorn View Post
    I am an author of books, and if I am not being paid for the output, then there is no incentive for me to work. No work, equals no books. No books, means that no knowledge is being distributed.
    Yeah, what he said!
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorn View Post
    I am an author of books, and if I am not being paid for the output, then there is no incentive for me to work. No work, equals no books. No books, means that no knowledge is being distributed.
    What ever happened to just doing it just for fun and enjoyment? Or to just help educate the general public. (Even if they don't generally understand it all.) Or just wanting to share what you know?
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  4. #14
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    What ever happened to just doing it just for fun and enjoyment?
    Its hard to feed your family "fun and enjoyment'

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=Xploitz=- View Post
    What ever happened to just doing it just for fun and enjoyment? Or to just help educate the general public. (Even if they don't generally understand it all.) Or just wanting to share what you know? If money is your only motivation for wanting to share the info that you know, isn't that in itself kinda selfish? I'm not intending to bash on you Thorn,...just trying to see where your at concerning your own personal / professional morals and ethics and if their separated or not. You know what I'm trying to say?
    Quote Originally Posted by pureh@te View Post
    Its hard to feed your family "fun and enjoyment'
    Pureh@te has put it quite succinctly, but please let me expound on that thought.

    There is a lot of information that I distribute directly or indirectly that I never expect will return direct renumeration. Things like posts here on the RE Forum and other fora are a good example. Mostly these are for fun, although at times they do pay off indirectly in the exchange of information. Another example of something I never expected to get paid for was coming up with the idea of the WPA Rainbow Tables* that so many people in the pen-testing community use. In that, I saw the greater danger to wireless users of the weak passphrases and the potential for a rainbow attack, and thought that it should shown to the pen-testing world. Nothing was expected in return, except perhaps some peer recognition, and the fact that a great number of users would become aware of the danger of weak passphrases and would therefore be better able to protect themselves.

    However, when I sit down to write a book, there is a definite expectation that when I put the words on paper (or screen as it were), that I will be paid for the work of presenting the information in an organized format for the reader. (For those who have never written more than a term paper, writing is work.) The expectation is that readers will find value in the information contained in the book, and they will pay the publisher for that value. Face it, people buy books for the content, not for the paper. I further expect that the publisher in turn will pay me for writing that information in the first place and thus making the information valuable and a salable commodity. Those people who do things like download a free scan of a book I've written are finding value in the information, but are doing nothing less than taking money from me and the publisher (or any other writer and publisher in the same position) since they haven't paid for the information.

    I understand what you are confused about, but I reject the belief system that insists that altruistic works are always good and self-interest is always bad. There is nothing wrong with being selfish about earning income from my works. To be selfish means that one cares about his own interests above those of others. In this case, I am merely looking to get the monies that are due me from my works, and I place that value above other people getting the information for nothing. This is precisely what is at the heart of the matter of what Pureh@te is saying about feeding the family.

    This is no different than going to a job, and expecting an employer to pay a reasonable amount of money in return for the time and energy used to do that job. Few people expect to do a job and not be paid. On the other hand, if something is done for enjoyment, then few people expect to be paid.

    In the same way, the ethics are quite simple and consistent. If a work is done for profit, I expect that there will be payment by others as long as my work is of value to them. If I release some information without expectation of payment, then people are free to accept or reject that information without owing me anything.

    *For what it's worth, the basis for the WPA attack was my idea. I'm happy to acknowledge that Renderman, Joshaua Wright, and Dragorn ran with it and did all the heavy lifting.
    Thorn
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  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorn View Post
    However, when I sit down to write a book, there is a definite expectation that when I put the words on paper (or screen as it were), that I will be paid for the work of presenting the information in an organized format for the reader. (For those who have never written more than a term paper, writing is work.)
    I wanted to validate this point. While writing is fun, and very fulfilling when you see your work in print, it is also a lot of hard work! I should have kept track of the hours I spent on these projects but I would have lost track. A lot of my "down time" outside of work is spent writing.

    Another example, in a larger sense than the WPA tables, are most if not all of the Church of WiFi projects, the Wireless Village, and associated presentations. No one, of course, is paying us for this work, but I know we spend a lot more time than people probably realize behind the scenes. Most people go to cons to enjoy themselves, have fun, and learn something, and so do we. But we put a great emphasis on actively contributing to the community, and it too is also a lot of hard work.
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  7. #17
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    Thorn. I see you quoted be before I had a chance to edit out most of what I said. I edited it out because I didn't want you to get me wrong, and I felt you might with what I said. So a big thanks for taking what I said in stride. I can relate to having to put food on the table to feed my family. I like working on PC's and fixing other peoples PC issues. And I under bid myself because I enjoy it so much. Its more of a hobby turned professional, like my pentesting. I just do them both for fun and I don't expect to be paid much...but I do expect to be paid something. Thanks again Thorn for not taking my unedited words to heart and for seeing what I was truly asking of you.
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  8. #18
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    I hate these topics. I'd prefer not to comment... but while I'm here.

    The way I see it, most knowledge is free... depending on the subject, of course.

    All you're paying for... most of the time, is the format, the time spent stringing words together, the printing and the paper.

    I enjoy the idea of free knowledge... however... I would also like to have a hard copy handy, if possible.

    Either way, if you want the knowledge on paper... it has to be paid for, somehow... whether one prints it out oneself or if one is fortunate enough to afford the book.
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  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by .lonewolf View Post
    I hate these topics. I'd prefer not to comment... but while I'm here.

    The way I see it, most knowledge is free... depending on the subject, of course.

    All you're paying for... most of the time, is the format, the time spent stringing words together, the printing and the paper.

    I enjoy the idea of free knowledge... however... I would also like to have a hard copy handy, if possible.

    Either way, if you want the knowledge on paper... it has to be paid for, somehow... whether one prints it out oneself or if one is fortunate enough to afford the book.
    Exactly what I was trying to say - but much more concise
    I was trying to make a simple distinction between whether we are often really paying for the knowledge, or just individual presentations of it?
    More often than not, especially with IT related materials, the actual knowledge can be found quite freely elsewhere - mainly thanks to the www.

  10. #20
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    THORN IF WHAT YOU ARE TRULY TRYING TO SAY IS THAT TIME AND EFFORT SHOULD BE PAID FOR THEN
    1. NEVER RIDE ON A PLAIN AGAIN
    2.TURN OFF YOUR LIGHTS AND ELECTRICITY

    the inventors worked many years unpaid so as to make the world a better place because they loved it so very much, also you will find alot of authors. WOULD still write regardless to pay when you find something you truely love and dedicate your life to "ALBERT EINSTEIN" pay is irealevent. Lots of people dedicate lots of time for free, a perfect example would be charity work, and although i completely understand providing your family with food is priority number one that doesnt mean that every one WRITEs to get paid or studies to get paid.
    Sometimes I try to fit a 16-character string into an 8–byte space, on purpose.

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