When Do Brain Dumps Jeopardize the CISSP Test?

Maybe you got into a conversation with your CISSP instructor at the culmination of your CISSP training course and you casually let it drop that you are using a brain dump to get complementary CISSP study material. Before your IT instructor hits the roof and starts on a litany about how dangerous it is to use brain dumps, head him off and explain that it is legal to user certain brain dumps provided you meet certain conditions.

In its most literal form, a brain dump can be anything coming out of your head  meaning, you attempted to write down what you know about a particular topic or field of discipline. Thus, you dumped the contents of your brain about that subject onto hard copy (like a personal diary or notebook), or in a digital document (like a text or word processing document and saved it.) So far, nothing illegal here  anyone can write about how he understood the CISSP study material he recently went over. No one can convict you for actually absorbing the information.

Legal profit-making brain dump sites can be found online. What makes them legal is that they create unique content to be sold to other people, so they do own the intellectual property rights to that unique content they developed. Even if the unique content is based on the coverage of past IT (or CISSP) exams or study material, so long as the CISSP study material or CISSP brain dumps these websites sell is of their own creation, that is their own property and they can do with it as they please (even give it way if they are so inclined.)

Why would anyone sell content from the IT certification exams verbatim (in essence, stealing the copyrighted content from the exam creators)? Well, for one thing, it is cheaper. To create your own unique content takes talent, time, energy and resources so some people take shortcuts by ripping off content from other content providers instead. But since you want to start your career on the right footing, buy only unique CISSP study material content so you do not feed the cancer called trade secrets piracy.

You can be found guilty in a US court of selling trade secrets if you create a brain dump site where you sell genuine content from the CISSP test. To clinch your conviction, the owner of the CISSP accreditation exams has to prove that you had deliberately used content from the CISSP exam in a verbatim form (meaning, you copied the CISSP exam questions and answers word-for-word and then sold these verbatim content to other people for a profit.) This crime of selling trade secrets falls under the realm of Intellectual Property protection.

But why are there still brain dumps to be found on the Internet then? Well, the problem is many of these brain dump sites operate on the legal side of the law by selling content they created themselves. It is also rather hard to prove that someone actually copied CISSP exam intellectual property in a deliberate manner and with intent to make profit from it (unless you set up a sting operation to entrap the owner and/or the staff of the brain dump in the act of selling CISSP copyrighted information to undercover agents.) If, for instance, all you did was to create a John Doe blog site and write down your impressions about the CISSP exam you prepared for and took, and also any things you feel other people should bear in mind when taking the exam (like what parts of the exam you personally found difficult), you cannot be found guilty of jeopardizing the integrity of the CISSP test through your blog site. This is because you: a) only wrote down about your personal impressions; b) there is no intent to sell the information, just an intent to express yourself; and c) you did not sell content from the CISSP exam in verbatim form to other people. Yes, your blog site can literally be a brain dump in this sense (because you took knowledge from your brain and placed it in a public access site) but it is not an illegal brain dump.