You need to contact EC Council if you're going to self study. You need to send in your experience and get approval if you don't want to take the course (I really need to do this. I keep forgetting...).
You can probably setup a course through www.eccouncil.org
I'd be wary of "non-official" courses as EC Council might not except them.
I believe you can take the course (and subsequently the exam) without experience. I think the experience requirement is only for self-study.
Yea. The reason they gave me is that they want to make sure people will use the knowledge ethically. To be completely honest, it seems like an excuse to push a course on people. As you said, CEH material is readily available, so it would be extremely difficult (i.e. impossible) to ensure that people only use that knowledge for good.
I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say those requirements are for their reputation and the reputation of the certification, but you can't uncover a person's ethical nature from a short course or a resume.
Regardless, that's how it stands. What are you currently doing for work? You should give them a call and see if your experience is adequate. You just need a resume and a letter from a supervisor.
JD, they told me my experience was more than adequate. I can't imagine you not qualifying for it.