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Old 10-08-2007, 05:58 PM   #106
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I think this sums up DRM pretty good:

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It don't prohibit worth a dime,
It's filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we're for it.
-Frankin P. Adams

The fifth and seventh lines don't apply, but the sentiment is the same.
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Old 10-08-2007, 06:07 PM   #107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
That's a decision that we all have to take individually. As I've said before, DRM doesn't particularly bother me one way or another. Obviously I'd prefer that it didn't exist, but I fully understand why many publishers feel it necessary to use it.
Harry, I agree that it's a matter of individual choice, the point I was making is that for those of us who want to take a more active stance against DRM it's important not only to refuse to buy DRM products but also to buy those which do not have DRM. Content providers will not release DRM-free content unless it can be proven successful in the marketplace.
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Old 10-08-2007, 06:49 PM   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
I think this sums up DRM pretty good:

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It don't prohibit worth a dime,
It's filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we're for it.
-Frankin P. Adams

The fifth and seventh lines don't apply, but the sentiment is the same.
"It's left a trail of graft and slime,"
- Backroom deals between content creators and device makers that prohibit use of the content on anything other than the device.
- FCC being paid to create the Content Flag to enforce control that the broadcasters don't legally have.

"It's filled our land with vice and crime."
- HarryT would probably agree with this one. 8-)
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Old 10-08-2007, 07:32 PM   #109
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Sorry, bingle, but you've hit a hot-button for me, so now you must endure a rant.
Excellent! I ranted a bit myself, so I only expect the same in return. And of course, you always write well-thought-out comments that provoke thought - and you do it politely ;-)

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The originals are just as scarce as they ever were -- only one person can create each original, the fact that copying and distribution is cheap and easy hasn't changed that.
This is absolutely true. Originals still need to be created. BUT, in the past, those originals were paid for through the sales of copies. (That is, the current business model: close to nothing for the original work, then a percentage for each copy sold).

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Very few folks are wealthy enough to do something like writing for free -- if they depend on it for their bread and cheese then they need some safe-guard on the income (I'm not arguing for any particular approach, only pointing out the issue). In the absence of such a safe-guard, most will have to find some other way to put food on the table.
Yes, I also agree. We, as a society, want to encourage writers to write, singers to sing, and artists to create art. In order to do that, they need to have some income, and time in which to create their works.

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The next point is usually something like "true writers have to write, and will do so regardless." That's generally true. But it's extremely low, petty, greedy, and several other unprintable things, to take advantage of that fact to leave true writers in poverty because we, as a society, refuse to acknowledge that they should have some way to secure a living from their labors, just because it's cheap and easy to rip them off.
I agree, mostly. Society should absolutely fund writers and artists as much as possible. That's where our culture comes from, which is the definition of a society - few things should be more important!

However, you do have to recognize the growing importance and presence of "amateur" creators - YouTube, the Open Source Movement, the Creative Commons, blog posts like this one (hey, I could get paid $0.005 a word for this stuff! ;-)). Obviously, only a small fraction of content is created this way, but it's growing. There are even full-length, fan-made movies these days. However, I don't think this sort of content will be the only type people want. We will certainly want professional, full-time content creators still working away.

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If they can't reliably sell what they write, then they can't afford to write -- and they can't sell it if the filthy so and so down the way is giving away copies or selling them for pennies. If the impact is severe enough then they'll have to choose to either stop writing, or starve to death, and either way, nothing much gets written.
OK, this is where most of my disagreement rests, I think. You have in your mind a particular business model for writers getting paid - and it's one that's been in force for a while now. But I think there are other ways of doing things. I realized the other day that I get paid for creating copyrighted works - and I get a salary for doing so. Many people are in a similar situation. I see no royalties from my work, I've traded royalties for a steady paycheck. So that's one model, possibly - writers in cubicles, getting paid per annum rather than per librum ;-)

Another is a transition back to the patronage model. Writers would be supported either by a single wealthy individual or corporation, or a group of fans, contributing money held in escrow. A few authors and musicians have tried something like this... Another is the sort of multi-talented, hybrid model of writer like Cory Doctorow - he sells some books, but he gives his writing away for free and makes his living on a mishmash of speaker's fees, University posts, donations, advertising, and who knows what else.

Yet another is the National Endowment for the Arts model - grants given from the government (or private entities) to writers and artists to enable them to work for the benefit of society.

Honestly, I don't know what the best way to promote authorship is. However, I don't think we get to pick (we being society). We can try different things, like the NEA, but eventually the market will sort the whole thing out.

We also can't continue to hold on to the current model. We can try desperately, but it's like trying to make a religion illegal. A government can try to stomp out the practice, but they're only going to come close to succeeding if they use totalitarian methods. (This is why I think it's important to recognize that the *goal* of copyright is the public benefit, and to try and contrast that with the harm caused by copyright laws - fairly minimal so far, but we're approaching a future where we have more and more draconian laws in order to stop something that's as easy as breathing. I'm not sure we'll ever get to levels like "The Right to Read", but it's looking more and more like Prohibition, or the War on Some Drugs...)

Anyway, water flows downhill, and the market takes the path of least resistance. People won't stop copying information for free, just as they didn't keep riding horses after the advent of the automobile, or copying books by hand after the advent of the printing press. Trying to make sure the saddle-makers and copyists don't go out of business is the wrong battle to be fighting - and it's bound to be a losing one, in the end.


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Okay, end of rant.

I'd agree, however, that copyright law is seriously overdue for a total rebuild from the ground up, and the non-physical nature of modern media needs to be addressed ... among many other issues, but protecting the concept of protecting the creators of them from shameless exploitation, and balancing it against the good of society at large should be heart and soul of that re-build.
Ahh, see, copyright law is *all about* the good of society at large. It actually doesn't give a fig for the creators of content, except as a means to that end. And I do feel sorry for the writers who will have to stumble and fail in the search for the next business model - there will be some who deserve to succeed, but choose the wrong way to do it. But in the end, society will be better off for having made the transition.
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Old 10-08-2007, 08:50 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by bingle View Post
Another is a transition back to the patronage model. Writers would be supported either by a single wealthy individual or corporation, or a group of fans, contributing money held in escrow. A few authors and musicians have tried something like this...
Yeah, someone please be sure and tell me when this model comes back into fashion...
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Old 10-08-2007, 11:06 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by bingle View Post
Excellent! I ranted a bit myself, so I only expect the same in return. And of course, you always write well-thought-out comments that provoke thought - and you do it politely ;-)
I ... think that's one of the highest compliments I've ever received, bingle. Thank you.



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Originally Posted by bingle View Post
However, you do have to recognize the growing importance and presence of "amateur" creators - YouTube, the Open Source Movement, the Creative Commons, blog posts like this one (hey, I could get paid $0.005 a word for this stuff! ;-)). Obviously, only a small fraction of content is created this way, but it's growing. There are even full-length, fan-made movies these days. However, I don't think this sort of content will be the only type people want. We will certainly want professional, full-time content creators still working away.
That's a good point, bingle, but how much of that content would you consider paying for? Would the average person consider paying for? I know there's some worth it, but the vast majority, while interesting/entertaining, simply isn't of a grade that most folks would pay for. And that little bit that is, is kind of viewed as not worth paying for because it's all mixed in with the other. Ad revenue is about the only way to make an approach like that pay, and no one's developed an approach on that that works very well for books.



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You have in your mind a particular business model for writers getting paid - and it's one that's been in force for a while now.
I couldn't honestly say whether I do or not, but your point is very well taken regardless.

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Originally Posted by bingle View Post
But I think there are other ways of doing things.
Indubitably.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle View Post
I realized the other day that I get paid for creating copyrighted works - and I get a salary for doing so. Many people are in a similar situation. I see no royalties from my work, I've traded royalties for a steady paycheck. So that's one model, possibly - writers in cubicles, getting paid per annum rather than per librum ;-)
Trouble with that is that at some point revenue for the work still has to be collected, so that doesn't really change things much, just shifts it so that this notional "employer" would be more in control of the process, they'd still want their purchased rights to the content protected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle View Post
Another is a transition back to the patronage model. Writers would be supported either by a single wealthy individual or corporation, or a group of fans, contributing money held in escrow. A few authors and musicians have tried something like this....
The first thing that comes to mind on this idea is that there's a reason that the patronage model passed out of common practice. Most likely a lack of patrons, at a guess. The multi-patronage model may work, but there are some serious challenges to overcome, and again, I think it just rearranges the paradigm, rather than shifting it -- instead of the readers paying royalties through the pubs, they're doing it directly, presumably things like copy-editing turn into a contract service that the authors use or don't as they choose.

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Originally Posted by bingle View Post
Another is the sort of multi-talented, hybrid model of writer like Cory Doctorow - he sells some books, but he gives his writing away for free and makes his living on a mishmash of speaker's fees, University posts, donations, advertising, and who knows what else.
Yes, well Mr. Doctorow is a very unusual animal, I should thing that very few individuals (out of many quite good writers) could make that approach work for them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle View Post
Yet another is the National Endowment for the Arts model - grants given from the government (or private entities) to writers and artists to enable them to work for the benefit of society.
I'm afraid that both my first and most considered response to this is the sound made by sticking out one's tongue and blowing forcefully. That's kinda my reaction to most suggestions that the gubmint should solve things for us. I just don't see that there are too many things that are worth the bloat, waste and corruption that come from letting the gubmint "help" us. But that's another kettle of fish for another type of forum (the type I generally stay far away from, actually), so I'll leave it at that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle View Post
Honestly, I don't know what the best way to promote authorship is. However, I don't think we get to pick (we being society). We can try different things, like the NEA, but eventually the market will sort the whole thing out.
I suppose that the market will likely sort it out, but I'd love to come up with the magic bullet that gets the process moving in a good direction without a huge amount of growing pains. That being said, I freely admit that I have no idea what that answer would be.

I fear I sound like I'm just trying to shoot down all your ideas, but what I'm really doing is coming to my own realization that whatever we end up with, if it's going to work it will have to be totally different from anything we're doing now and that we've ever done before.

Logically, all the past approaches were abandoned because they didn't work in some wise, and the current ones need to be left behind because they don't really work all that well either (though they do seem to work better than most of the previous approaches, whatever warts the have, and they do have them).

I wonder if the question will be definitively resolved in our lifetimes? If it ever will be resolved?


One thing I do believe is true, and it's been said around here by others: we, as a culture, and as a collection of cultures, need to change our way of thinking on the point of paying for stuff that can be easily copied. It's one thing to take things for free that are explicitly given away, it's another to take them when they're not. I think that's why we see less shareware than we used to (another tangent, that). You and I, and most of our fellow MobileReaders grok that point, but until the majority of the human race accepts and believes in its collective bones that intellectual property should be paid for just like anything else, we'll have copyright issues, and things like DRM plaguing us.
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Old 10-08-2007, 11:46 PM   #112
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As I said before, all the music I buy recently is direct from the artist. They put up their own money to make the recordings and produce the CDs. I support them directly.

There was (may still be) a surcharge on DAT recorders and media to compensate the publishers (and perhaps the artists) for music recorded on DAT. At one time there was a plan to add a surcharge to blank "music" CDs that people would copy their CDs to at home. Not sure what happened to that but if it passed it must be very small given the prices of CDs these days.

As I have said before (and I know that I am repeating myself) the problem with the music companies is that they are producing stuff that fewer and fewer people want to hear.
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Old 10-09-2007, 03:32 AM   #113
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But why? I don't think you've given a good reason for this statement. It's obviously something you believe very strongly. I'm not convinced, however.

Copyright protection exists for one reason only - to encourage the production of art for the good of society. There is no other reason to have the law - there is no universal right to have your creation protected from copying.
But if people did not have that protection, most "creative" works would not exist, especially in fields like software writing. Most software is written as a commercial enterprise, not for the "good of society".

I am a professional software developer, and run my own business writing and selling software aimed at amateur astronomers. Copyright law is the only method whereby people like me are able to make a living. If anyone could legally duplicate and give away my software, I'd be out of a job, and my software would never have existed in the first place.

I strongly disagree with your suggestion that the "state" should pay me a salary to write software for the "good of society". That's not the way to encourage free enterprise. History shows that state-run businesses rarely prosper because they have no incentive to be innovative or profitable.

I'm not asking for anyone's help with my business, other than that the government has a legal framework in place to prevent other people from stealing my work. That legal framework is the copyright law.

Copyright law is absolutely essential if you want companies like mine to exist. No copyright protection = no creative works.
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:04 AM   #114
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Paul,

Please read:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...&postcount=228

and then you'll understand the reason for my "visceral dislike" - not of teenagers, but of so-called "pirates" in general.
I can understand dislike of piracy when it affects your wallet, BUT-
Piracy only means loss of income when the individuals pirating software/music/whatever would have otherwise BOUGHT that software/music if they could not have pirated it.
Software pricing is way out of whack, and many if not most individuals simplyt cannot afford the prices being asked. And if they can't find a pirated copy of certain software, they find a cheaper alternative, or don't use it.

The entities that CAN afford software at these prices are businesses, and my guess is that business purchases account for most of the income of software developers.

I have access (legal) to all of the software M$ manufactures. Do I use it? Only enough to learn how to support it for work purposes. Most of what I do personally is on BSD, or Linux, or Mac. And I have spent very little on this software- for example, a 5-user license for OS X, which covers all the Macs at my house, cost far less than ONE copy of Windows Vista. Most of the software on BSD and Linux was free; not only free but modifiable because I have the source.

I think over the next decade that we'll see this model of proprietary, binary-only software disappear for alot of users. We'll see more and more people moving to free OS's and software, which keeps getting better and better. And I have never understood why people would pirate an M$ operating system, when others are available, for free, that are much better.....
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:16 AM   #115
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Yes, I completely accept that what you say is true, but the issue is that you still have to take the conscious decision to do it.

The fundamental problem, as I've said before, is that stealing intellectual property (computer software, CDs, DVDs, etc) appears to have somehow become "socially acceptable", even "admired" perhaps, among at least a portion of the younger generation today. When I was a kid, me and all my friends used to go out and buy "45" RPM records virtually every week, and use a significant part of our "pocket money" to do so. Many kids today seem to think that they have some "God-given right" to download for free whatever music they wish, rather than paying for it. And that's despite the fact that stores such as iTunes make it very easy to buy music legally, and it prices which are far lower in real terms than we used to pay for our records back in the '70s.
Well, let's examine piracy of computer games. Most games- whether Playstation or Nintendo, cost $35 and up. I don't give my kids $35 each for pocket money for a week, so when they buy games it is paid for by me. And I don't see the utility of many games <G>. Assuming most kids are similar, I can readily believe that there is a big incentive for pirating these games. That's why there is a big business in mod chips and the like.

And there is a very simple solution- these companies could cut prices on games. If they were more affordable they would sell more of them. Just like movies- if a DVD is $8 or $9, the incentive to pirate it is much less than if it costs $20 or $30. Just common sense. This is the digital world, and anything can be copied.

BTW, back in the 70s I used to pay 7 bucks or less for an LP. When cd's came out, that price jumped to 15 or 20, and prices are still high, given manufacturing and distro costs. If I buy a cd at a place like Meijer's, it's usually $14.99 or $15.99.
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:23 AM   #116
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But if people did not have that protection, most "creative" works would not exist, especially in fields like software writing. Most software is written as a commercial enterprise, not for the "good of society".
I don't agree with this at all. In a few words, APACHE, BSD, LINUX. None of these softwares were written as a commercial enterprise. And, they are the best, or among the best, of their types of software.

I don't have any idea if there are "code communists" out there writing software "for the good of society," but I do know that there are many programmers writing extremely good software "for free," for whatever reason. And alot of the open source stuff is better than the commercial variety, because the code is there for all to see and comment on.

Remember the original "UNIX Wars?" AT&T vs. Berkeley. Well, big old commercial UNIX AT&T claimed that they, of course, were responsible for modern UNIX. How could a bunch of college kids have written a modern OS for free? Only a big commercial enterprise could do that.

Turned out, when the source contributions were examined, that BSD was responsible for over 90% of the code in AT&T UNIX.......
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:24 AM   #117
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BTW, back in the 70s I used to pay 7 bucks or less for an LP. When cd's came out, that price jumped to 15 or 20, and prices are still high, given manufacturing and distro costs. If I buy a cd at a place like Meijer's, it's usually $14.99 or $15.99.
But $15 in today's money is approximately half the "real value" of what $7 was in 1975. Here's a handy "Inflation Calculator" for US prices:

http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

If you plug some numbers into that, you'll see that something which cost $7 in 1975 would cost approximately $27 today, if the price had kept pace with inflation. In real terms, CDs today are something like half the price of LPs in the '70s.
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:28 AM   #118
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I don't agree with this at all. In a few words, APACHE, BSD, LINUX. None of these softwares were written as a commercial enterprise. And, they are the best, or among the best, of their types of software.

I don't have any idea if there are "code communists" out there writing software "for the good of society," but I do know that there are many programmers writing extremely good software "for free," for whatever reason. And alot of the open source stuff is better than the commercial variety, because the code is there for all to see and comment on.
But, with respect, does that mean that it should not be possible for me to make a living writing commercial software? There's nothing wrong with wanting make a living from one's "creative skills", and writing software happens to be where my skills lie. As a software author, I have the right to decide what to charge for my software. In the free market, anyone has the right to decide to buy it or not, as they wish, but they don't have the right to steal it merely because they decide that I'm charging too much for it.

What pisses me off more than anything is not people who pirate it, but people who duplicate it and sell multiple copies at a low price on eBay. That is a act of completely cynical criminal profiteering done solely for the purpose of profit.
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:46 AM   #119
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But, with respect, does that mean that it should not be possible for me to make a living writing commercial software? There's nothing wrong with wanting make a living from one's "creative skills", and writing software happens to be where my skills lie. I don't think anyone should have the right to use my software without paying for it. The "nobody's lost out because I wouldn't have bought it anyway" argument for piracy is completely fallacious. Software gets passed from A to B to C - sooner or later it ends up with someone who would have bought it.

What pisses me off more than anything is not people who pirate it, but people who duplicate it and sell multiple copies at a low price on eBay. That is a act of completely cynical criminal profiteering done solely for the purpose of profit.
I don't think anyone in the free or open source movement wants to stop anyone from writing commercial software and making money from it. They don't even care if you use their copyrighted work to make a living- look at Red Hat, Novell, etc.

But I do think several things are going to change in regards to commercial software. Pricing for one; Microsoft's dreams of conquering the world with windows just aren't working. Alot of computer users across the world simply can't afford their prices. Individuals and governments are moving towards free software, and will continue to do so. I see commercial software as becoming more and more of a niche product. Specialized software, requiring support, will remain commercial (accounting systems, etc.) but stuff like office suites and os's will be free.

As for eBay, I can well believe it. Don't you have any recourse against sellers there? The few times I have bought items from eBay, I have put the cash in escrow when ordering. Luckily I had, because two of the items I bought were not what was advertised. Also, you might try some type of net activation to unlock your software. Alot of other smaller developers have had to go to this.
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:57 AM   #120
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But I do think several things are going to change in regards to commercial software. Pricing for one; Microsoft's dreams of conquering the world with windows just aren't working. Alot of computer users across the world simply can't afford their prices. Individuals and governments are moving towards free software, and will continue to do so. I see commercial software as becoming more and more of a niche product. Specialized software, requiring support, will remain commercial (accounting systems, etc.) but stuff like office suites and os's will be free.
Yes, I agree with you. As a "one man" software developer, I could never compete against the "big boys" in the software field, but there are plenty of "niche markets" where specialist software companies such as mine can excel. I write software for amateur astronomers - it draws star charts, controls telescopes, etc. That's a very specialist market area in which all the half dozen or so serious contendors are extremely small, specialist companies. There is free software out there - as you rightly say, one has to compete with that in areas such as providing outstanding support to one's customers.

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As for eBay, I can well believe it. Don't you have any recourse against sellers there? The few times I have bought items from eBay, I have put the cash in escrow when ordering. Luckily I had, because two of the items I bought were not what was advertised. Also, you might try some type of net activation to unlock your software. Alot of other smaller developers have had to go to this.
All that eBay will do is pull an auction when notified of illegal trading; they won't actually take any action against offenders. Luckily I have had some success against people selling copies of my software through taking action against them in the UK's civil courts.
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