|The stupid question is the question not asked|
I don't think you really get it.
Randal (and his co-authors ;--) did a great job with "Learning Perl". Since he wrote it he has been on the road teaching Perl. Overall he has done more for the promotion of Perl than anybody but Larry and Tim O'Reilly.
What have you (and the people who put the Perl CD online) done for us?
It's not like you need the books by the way, did you notice that Perl comes with a huge amount of documentation? Did you have a look at the huge amount of information that you can get on the web, including Randal's Web Technique columns? So the books are nice, I have a whole bunch of them, but you can certainly learn Perl without them (how do you think Randal learned it by the way?)
Plus I thought I had spotted a couple of posts by merlyn around here, so it is not like he doesn't volonteer his time and skills for free here.
I don't think we can put O'Reilly, which put quite a lot of hard work into the development of Perl, and record companies, which are mostly concerned with marketing and money. You just have to compare the rate of royalties in both cases to see the difference.
One last question: what have you done for merlyn? While you were enjoying reading for free books he spent a good deal of time and energy writing, Randal was busy being the defendant in a pretty nasty lawsuit, then spent his life on the road to pay the legal bills. Did I hear you do anything to help him? Oh, sorry, you were busy being disgusted by him asking for a compensation (update: sounds better than the original retribution ;--) for his work...
So pleeeze, stop thinking that Open Source means that you can still people's hard work. The day merlyn stops writing books we will all be poorer.