Although JLU has probably infiltrated griefer organizations in the past, to my knowledge we have never run any kind of "false flag" operation. We do not provide griefer groups with suggested target lists and we do not file false Abuse Reports. Although we are not formally incorporated as a 501.(c)(3) non profit organization, we do work with charities and fundraising organizations. Our two biggest causes every year are Relay for Life and the Spina Bifida Foundation, and we participate in other charity events within Second Life.
Let's get back to the original topic, though. Herald management has stated that the wiki pages were provided to them by a wiki author. Sounds legitimate, doesn't it? While technically it's a true statement, there is no denying that the requirement to provide login credentials twice before a user can access any wiki content indicates that the content is not intended to be seen by the general public. Because there was wrongdoing involved, this meets my dictionary's definition of "steal," which is "to take or appropriate (another's property, ideas, etc.) without permission, dishonestly, or unlawfully, esp. in a secret or surrepititious manner." The fact that the JLU Applicant admits he was "told not to share the information" confirms that he knew it was wrong to steal the files.
I'm sure the Herald editor(s) had a sense of wrongdoing as well, when they published the first article about the stolen wiki files. The article describes the "secret Brainiac wiki," calls it a "leak," and describes the file theft as "group infiltration followed by betrayal." As documented in the initial article, a Herald editor was warned by the wiki's owner, Kalel Venkman, that any technical information the Herald published would be subject to immediate DMCA takedown, yet the information was published anyway. As for whether the Herald is pro-griefer or not, right after they called the JLU "a spandex tights fetish and role play paramilitary organization," they published a group photo of the griefers who stole the wiki files and added some comments sympathetic to that group. The conclusion should be obvious.
I'm one of the members of the Justice League Unlimited (JLU), and I've been discussing this issue in various Herald articles since it started. Let me help by providing the other side of the story.
JLU is indeed a charity and community service organization within Second Life. We dress our "avatars" in superhero uniforms taken mostly from DC Comics characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. Many of the avatars in Second Life dress as other copyrighted characters, from Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Marvel Comics, etc. At no time do the JLU volunteers make a monetary profit from any of the work we do. If DC Comics asked us to stop dressing as their characters, we would comply instantly, but so far they haven't. In fact, none of the SL residents have been asked to stop dressing as Star Trek or any other characters. As for us, we're just comic book fans who enjoy looking like the characters we love.
One of JLU's missions is to help the "residents" of Second Life by reporting the actions of people who would rather disrupt the enjoyment of others than play the game. Some of the actions of these "griefers" are equivalent to a Denial of Service attack, since they prevent Second Life users from building and selling their creations. For that reason, JLU sometimes researches serial griefers to gather information that could be used for criminal charges. All of the information we gather is available by searching the Internet, and it is (or WAS) stored behind double password protection on the JLU wiki, intended to be used by JLU members only.
Aside from a few chat logs copied from inside Second Life, the majority of the information in JLU's private wiki consists of meeting logs, news stories, ideas for security response and patrolling, and the members' fictional character back-stories. I would estimate that more than 90 percent of the wiki's content was authored by JLU members.
Recently a new member joined JLU, and after spending four days as an applicant, he was given the passwords to access the wiki. Shortly after that, the wiki content began appearing as torrent files, as web pages, and as content in stories in the Alphaville Herald. The Herald has gotten a lot of mileage out of the leaked wiki files. To date they have posted eleven separate stories about JLU's wiki, many of which contained text from the wiki itself. One Herald article contained approximately one hundred reports authored by JLU members concerning activities within Second Life. I'm not a copyright expert, but I do not believe this can be called Fair Use. JLU filed copyright takedown requests against the companies who hosted the torrent files and web pages, and most have complied with the requests. We finally filed a claim with the owners of TypePad, who asked the Herald to remove the material from their pages, and finally removed it themselves when the Herald decided not to comply. As a side note, I would not accuse the Herald of assisting anyone to steal the wiki pages, because I have no evidence of that.
Finally, I want to address the us of the words "gang" and "vigilante" when referring to the JLU. The JLU does not take any offensive action against griefers, even if we are attacked by them. Far from being vigilantes, we are much closer to what I like to call "A Neighborhood Watch in Second Life." We observe and report violations of the Terms of Service, as requested by the owners of Second Life, using the reporting tools they provide. Referring to JLU members as vigilantes is a tactic designed to make us sound like bad guys before you even get to know us.
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