FC: RIAA finally acts: Sues individual P2P users

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Sep 08 2003 - 10:08:37 PDT

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: New Zealand minister wants to implant new cars with tracking chips"

    Everyone has been expecting this for a while. See previous Politech message:
    "RIAA to P2P users: the gloves are coming 
    ** 1PM EST EMBARGO **
    Embargoed until 1pm EST
    Monday, September 8, 200
    Will Agree Not to Sue P2P Users Who Voluntarily Pledge to Stop Distributing 
    Music Illegally
    Copyright Infringement Claims Filed Against Hundreds of Major Offenders
    In First Round of Potentially Thousands of Lawsuits
    Lawsuits Part of Industry's Multi-Prong Approach That Includes
    New Business Models and Education
    WASHINGTON (September 8, 2003) The Recording Industry Association of 
    America (RIAA) announced today that its member companies have filed the 
    first wave of what could ultimately be thousands of civil lawsuits against 
    major offenders who have been illegally distributing substantial amounts 
    (averaging more than 1,000 copyrighted music files each) of copyrighted 
    music on peer-to-peer networks. The RIAA emphasized that these lawsuits 
    have come only after a multi-year effort to educate the public about the 
    illegality of unauthorized downloading and noted that major music companies 
    have made vast catalogues of music available to dozens of new high-quality, 
    low-cost, legitimate online services.
    At the same time, the RIAA announced that the industry is prepared to grant 
    what amounts to amnesty to P2P users who voluntarily identify themselves 
    and pledge to stop illegally sharing music on the Internet.  The RIAA will 
    guarantee not to sue file sharers who have not yet been identified in any 
    RIAA investigations and who provide a signed and notarized affidavit in 
    which they promise to respect recording-company copyrights.
    "For those who want to wipe the slate clean and to avoid a potential 
    lawsuit, this is the way to go," said Mitch Bainwol, RIAA Chairman and 
    CEO.  "We want to send a strong message that the illegal distribution of 
    copyrighted works has consequences, but if individuals are willing to step 
    forward on their own, we want to go the extra step and extend them this 
    "Nobody likes playing the heavy and having to resort to litigation," said 
    RIAA president Cary Sherman. "But when your product is being regularly 
    stolen, there comes a time when you have to take appropriate action. We 
    simply cannot allow online piracy to continue destroying the livelihoods of 
    artists, musicians, songwriters, retailers, and everyone in the music 
    Since the recording industry stepped up the enforcement phase of its 
    education program, public awareness that it is illegal to make copyrighted 
    music available online for others to download has risen sharply in recent 
    months. According to a recent survey by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, 
    fully 61% of those polled in August admitted they knew such behavior was 
    against the lawup from 54 percent in July and 37 percent in early June, 
    prior to the announcement.
    "We've been telling people for a long time that file sharing copyrighted 
    music is illegal, that you are not anonymous when you do it, and that 
    engaging in it can have real consequences," said Sherman. "And the message 
    is beginning to be heard.  More and more P2P users are realizing that there 
    are dozens of legal ways to get music online, and they are beginning to 
    migrate to legitimate services. We hope to encourage even the worst 
    offenders to change their behavior, and acquire the music they want through 
    legal means."
    Over the past year, the RIAA has also worked closely with the university 
    community to combat piracy.  In recognition of the seriousness of the 
    problem, colleges across the country are implementing new restrictionsand 
    issuing severe warningsto discourage the swapping of pirated music and 
    movies over high-speed campus Internet connections.
    Additional education efforts include more than four million Instant 
    Messages sent since May directly to infringers on the Kazaa and Grokster 
    networks warning them that they are not anonymous when they illegally offer 
    copyrighted music on these networks and that they could face legal action 
    if they didn't stop. The RIAA sent such a warning notice to virtually every 
    Kazaa and Grokster user who was sued today.
    "Obviously, these individuals decided to continue to offer copyrighted 
    music illegally notwithstanding the warnings," said Sherman.  "We hope that 
    today's actions will convince doubters that we are serious about protecting 
    our rights."
    In today's first round of lawsuits, RIAA member companies filed copyright 
    infringement claims against more than 250 individual file sharers.
    The RIAA announced on June 25 that it would be gathering evidence in order 
    to bring lawsuits in September against computer users who illegally 
    distribute copyrighted music through such peer-to-peer file distribution 
    networks as Kazaa and Grokster. Individuals caught distributing copyrighted 
    files on Kazaa, Grokster, Imesh, Gnutella, and Blubster were targeted in 
    this initial round.
    Since it announced its lawsuit plans, the RIAA has been contacted by a 
    number of illegal file sharers expressing concern over their actions and 
    wanting to know what they could do to avoid being sued.  In response, the 
    RIAA has decided not to pursue users who step forward before being targeted 
    for past illegal sharing of copyrighted works.  Instead, those who want to 
    start fresh will be asked to sign a declaration pledging they will delete 
    all illegally obtained music files from their hard drives and never again 
    digitally distribute or download music illegally. Detailed information on 
    how to apply and qualify for this amnesty is available at the web site 
    Over the past year, an unprecedented campaign by a coalition of 
    songwriters, recording artists, music publishers, retailers, and record 
    companies has heightened music fans' awareness of the devastating impact of 
    illegal file sharing. A series of print and broadcast ads featuring top 
    recording artists, as well as numerous press interviews by music industry 
    figures, have conveyed the message that file sharing not only robs 
    songwriters and recording artists of their livelihoods, it also undermines 
    the future of music itself by depriving the industry of the resources it 
    needs to find and develop new talent.  In addition, it threatens the jobs 
    of tens of thousands of less celebrated people in the music industry, from 
    engineers and technicians to warehouse workers and record store clerks.
    At the same time, the industry has responded to consumer demand by making 
    its music available to a wide range of authorized online subscription, 
    streaming and download services that make it easier than ever for fans to 
    get music legally and inexpensively on the Internet. These services also 
    offer music reliably, with the highest sound quality, and without the risks 
    of exposure to viruses or other undesirable material.
    Federal law and the federal courts have been quite clear on what 
    constitutes illegal behavior when it comes to "sharing" music files on the 
    Internet.  It is illegal to make available for download copyrighted works 
    without permission of the copyright owner.  Court decisions have affirmed 
    this repeatedly.  In the recent Grokster decision, for example, the court 
    confirmed that Grokster users were guilty of copyright infringement. And in 
    last year's Aimster decision, the judge wrote that the idea that "ongoing, 
    massive, and unauthorized distribution and copying of copyrighted works 
    somehow constitutes 'personal use' is specious and unsupported."
    A number of other music community leaders expressed support for strong 
    enforcement against egregious instances of copyright theft.
    Bart Herbison, Executive Director, Nashville Songwriters Association 
    "When someone steals a song on the Internet it is not a victimless 
    crime.  Songwriters pay their rent, medical bills and children's' 
    educational expenses with royalty income.  That income has been 
    dramatically impacted by illegal downloading, so many have reassessed their 
    careers as songwriters.  It breaks my heart that songwriters are choosing 
    other professions because they cannot earn a living  in great part due to 
    illegal downloading."
    Thomas F. Lee, President, American Federation of Musicians of the
    United States and Canada:
    "No one is eager to see copyright infringement lawsuits against 
    individuals.  But copyright infringement hurts many thousands of other 
    individuals.  Most musicians who depend on CD sales and legal downloading 
    are not wealthy mega-celebrities.  They are artists struggling to succeed 
    without a 'day job.'  They are ordinary session musicians who depend on 
    union-negotiated payments that fall drastically when sales fall.  They are 
    songwriters who depend on royalties to put food on the table.  The AFM has 
    said it before: Musicians make music for love, but they can't afford to do 
    it without an income.  The AFM urges all music fans to support artists by 
    using only legal means to distribute and obtain music."
    Lamont Dozier, Legendary songwriter:
    "I wish people who are practicing illegal file sharing would stop for a 
    moment and think about the damage that is being done here, and step in the 
    shoes of people who have families and children, who have been laid off from 
    jobs they've held for over 20 years. In a time where jobs are very hard to 
    come by, and you find yourself forced to be un-employed, because the 
    business is falling apart, deals aren't being made, record stores are 
    closing, lay-offs are happening world-wide in every aspect of music, from 
    cd packers to guitar players to secretarys to hopeful songwriters and 
    artists, who will not have a music industry any longer.,  People are being 
    lied to  about the damage that piracy and illegal file sharing is doing to 
    our country, not just to the music industry, but it is effecting every 
    aspect of our lives. Each business in this country is linked to each other, 
    and all industries are failing and the economy is falling apart. Illegal 
    file sharing is one of these cancerous straws that are breaking the camel's 
    Frances W. Preston, President of BMI:
    "Illegal downloading of music is theft, pure and simple. It robs 
    songwriters, artists, and the industry that supports them or their property 
    and their livelihood. Ironically, those who steal music are stealing the 
    future creativity they so passionately crave. We must end the destructive 
    cycle now."
    Rick Carnes, President, Songwriters Guild of America:
    "It breaks my heart to see the great songs of American songwriters 
    electronically shoplifted by the millions every day. Like everyone else, 
    songwriters can't make a living if we aren't paid for our hard work. We 
    have done all that we could to educate and warn the public that rampant 
    internet piracy is killing our music. Anyone still sharing copyrighted 
    music files without the permission of the copyright holder should know what 
    they are doing is not only wrong, it is illegal."
    National Association of Recording Merchandisers:
    "NARM believes the RIAA has the right to act on behalf of copyright holders 
    and recording artists to protect their rights, their interests and their 
    creative works as the law provides."
    Gary Himelfarb, President, RAS Records:
    "In 1981, as an aspiring entrepreneur and reggae music lover, I started a 
    small label (RAS Records) in the basement of my home right outside of 
    Washington DC. I did this, like so many other independent label owners (of 
    which there are literally thousands of-as compared to only 4 majors) not to 
    make millions of dollars, but instead to create music which I loved and to 
    have a profession that I loved doing each day.
    "Over the years we created over three hundred full length CDs and I have 
    been able to support myself and my wife and two kids. I have always 
    considered myself to be very fortunate to do what I love, fairly compensate 
    the artists and writers I work with and build a company that has respect 
    and integrity within the music industry.
    "The way independent labels have always made money is by selling catalog, 
    since we are not able to promote our songs on radio and create hits, like 
    the majors. The majors, although they also over time create impressive 
    catalogs, depend on the sales of 'hit' records to generate the income they 
    need to run their companies. We independents have always depended on 
    catalog sales.
    "We have always had consistent sales of our catalog titles, even if a 
    release was 10 years old. Since the invention of Napster and other illegal 
    file sharing activities, the independent labels have experienced a serious 
    drop in the sales of our catalogs. It is not mere coincidence that this 
    drop off has occurred concurrently with the advent of peoples ability to 
    get music for free on the Internet.
    "As an independent label owner who has now seen my sales consistently 
    shrink from year to year, I am firmly against the activities of people and 
    companies who allow my music to be illegally downloaded on the Internet. I 
    am strongly in favor of allowing legal websites to offer my music for a 
    fair price (and sometimes even free-with my prior permission) and look 
    forward to participating in the legal digital distribution of music.
    "If it is necessary to prosecute those who are purposely sharing large 
    numbers of music files without regard for the artists, writers and labels 
    that work so hard day in and day out, then so be it. If we do not get this 
    problem under control, the public will suffer as less entrepreneurs like 
    myself will be willing to invest their time or money into creating music 
    catalogs for the world to enjoy."
    Bill Velez, President and COO, SESAC:
    "In the current atmosphere of widespread online copyright piracy, SESAC 
    endorses efforts to protect the livelihoods of songwriters and music 
    publishers and the sanctity of intellectual property."
    Bruce Iglauer, President, Alligator Records:
    "No one is hurt more by the illegal 'sharing' of copyrighted music than 
    the independent artist and the independent record label.  The struggling 
    indies already occupy a much smaller market share than the majors. The 
    independents' loss of income from the elimination of even a small number of 
    sales can be the difference between whether much independent music is 
    recorded or not.  If this proliferation of the theft of the creations of 
    artists continues, less and less music will be recorded.  The public must 
    be educated about the real results stealing music from its creators.
    "It is unfortunate that the problem of illegal 'sharing' of copyrighted 
    music has grown to the point where legal action is necessary, but that is 
    the case.  Until such time as the public is jarred into awareness, it is 
    the sad necessity that the people who create and own the music must 
    aggressively defend themselves from having their creations stolen."
    Sharon Corbitt, Nashville Studio Manager:
    "As studio manager of Ocean Way Nashville and my 19 years on Music Row, I 
    have seen our industry go through many changes. We are faced with even 
    larger obstacles than ever due to the illegal downloading of music on the 
    internet. It may seem extreme to people to pursue legally those who 
    continue to "illegally obtain music on a daily basis" . Illegal downloading 
    of music is the same as someone walking into your home and stealing 
    something that you had created and was of value. People make their livings 
    creating music. The cost of a recording is covered by that recording being 
    sold to consumers. In the end, the consumer suffers from illegal 
    downloading because proper funding will not be available to cover the cost 
    to produce that recording.
    "A songwriter has a job just like an electrician or a computer programmer. 
    They sit down and write songs in the hopes that their creation will be 
    recorded by an artist and eventually purchased by the consumer. That's how 
    they make their money. By illegally downloading music we are effecting the 
    creation of the music itself. The quality of music will suffer and the 
    consumer will in return suffer. Music is healing. You would only want the 
    best medicine and doctors to fight a disease.  Illegal downloading is not 
    allowing the 'best cure' to find its way to the person seeking healing. 
    Something has got to change or we are all going to regret what the final 
    outcome will be, no more quality music, fewer healing words..."
    Courtney Proffitt, Executive Director of the Association for Independent Music:
    "The Association for Independent Music has been educating people for the 
    past year that online music piracy is hurting everyone in the music 
    industry  not just the major labels.  The independent sector has been hard 
    hit the past few years, even though this is the sector that often has the 
    most innovative and creative music production.  The small indie labels are 
    struggling to promote and sell their music, in order to stay in 
    business.  If they are not getting paid for the music they create, they 
    cannot continue to operate.  This results in a loss to our overall culture.
    "Many talented musicians are no longer receiving royalty payments that they 
    have been depending upon as income.   These royalty payments were 
    supporting them and helping them to continue their craft: creating new 
    music for the public's enjoyment.  With the loss of this revenue, many 
    musicians have had to quit and find "day jobs" to make a living.   I 
    consider this to be a loss for everyone.
    "Additionally, my organization has independent music retail as 
    members.  Many of the independent music stores have lost revenue due to 
    illegal downloading, and loss of customer base.   They are having trouble 
    continuing to stay in business as the "local record store."  Many have been 
    forced to close their doors due to this downturn in business, and it also 
    affects the economy of the community where they are located.
    "I urge people to be aware of this situation, and the consequences that are 
    the result of illegal downloading of music.  It is not just hurting an 
    anonymous "music industry".  It is hurting real people such as the artists 
    who create the music, people who promote and distribute the music, all the 
    way to the music store clerk  who works at your local music retailer."
    Chuck Cannon, President, Wacissa River Music, Incorporated:
    "I'm a professional songwriter. This means I provide for my family by 
    receiving a royalty when a CD containing one of my songs sells. This also 
    means if you acquire possession of one of my songs without paying for it, 
    you have intercepted my paycheck. That makes you a criminal.
    "If you engage in illegal downloading, that is, if you download a song 
    without paying for it, you are a common thief.  If you allow your children 
    to engage in illegal downloading, you are telling them 'in our home, 
    thievery is acceptable.'  If you are a college administrator and you turn a 
    blind eye to illegal downloading on your campus, you are encouraging 
    larceny in your hallowed halls of education."
    Mike Negra, President, Mike's Video:
    "Mike's Video continues to see the effects of illegal downloading and 
    burning. Our chain has shrunk from five stores to one, resulting in a loss 
    of 12 music-oriented jobs and over $2 million dollars a year in music 
    revenue. Even with that consolidation, we face an uncertain future due to 
    the core customers of our town, 42,000 Penn State University 
    students.  This year's results to date show sales down 45% overall versus 
    2002. The single store comparable is down 6.2%.
    "The message of zero tolerance towards digital thievery needs to be 
    delivered to those who continue to ignore the obvious. The facts of the 
    situation are people are buying less music and record stores are going out 
    of business. This is a direct result of illegal downloading and burning and 
    is especially prevalent in college towns such as State College.
    "The story of stores like Mike's is being played out across the country 
    next to or on college campuses. It is one the downloading public isn't 
    aware of or concerned about.  I applaud the effort the RIAA has given this 
    problem but I don't believe either of us are satisfied with the results. 
    The continuation of lawsuits and awareness towards the overall ill effects 
    throughout the industry is paramount if we hope to save the industry we all 
    "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help save or reshape the music 
    business and change the attitudes that exist. Maybe it will help 
    personalize the deep effects this so-called victimless crime has had."
    Cecilia Carter, the R&B Foundation:
    "The R&B Foundation provides medical and financial assistance to older 
    musicians.  Many of the people we serve can barely survive without our help 
    and the few dollars they receive from royalty payments.  The downloading 
    and sharing of music files, negatively impacts the amount of royalty 
    payments received by our artists.  Although the amount of money may seem 
    insignificant at the time you are getting it for free, it can mean the 
    difference in a musician's ability to pay rent or face homelessness.  We 
    strongly support the music industry's effort to stop free downloading and 
    file sharing. It is a matter of survival to our constituents."
    John W. Styll, President, Gospel Music Association:
    "The gospel music community has not been immune from the financial damage 
    caused by those who illegally obtain music through downloading. Some may 
    argue that it is an act of ministry to give Christian music away. The GMA 
    certainly believes that it is good for people to be exposed to the message 
    of gospel music, just as it would be good for people to read the Bible, but 
    stealing either music or Bibles cannot be justified. It's unfortunate that 
    the music industry has had to resort to prosecution to deter theft, but 
    there seems to be no other choice and thus we lend our support. And as 
    believers in the concept of grace, we are glad to support the amnesty 
    program as well."
    Dale Mathews, President, Christian Music Publishers Association:
    "The surge and volume of illegal file-sharing over the past several years 
    cry out for action rooted in strength. This latest legal action by the 
    Music Coalition meets that criteria and is supported by the Church Music 
    Publishers Association.  We feel it is the small, grass roots writer who is 
    most severely damaged by the all too common illegal acts of file-sharing."
    Members of the Tennessee Songwriters Association:
    Tom Mobley:
    "It is, of course, illegal.  It robs from everyone.  Many great songs will 
    never be heard because they will not be on a CD or cassette with a hit 
    song.  If a CD sells a million so does every song on it. If someone 
    downloads only one song, the others will never be heard."
    Jan Johnson:
    "I am a songwriter, and even though I have not received any royalties to 
    this date, I think it is so absolutely absurd that people have the 
    mentality about using someone else's product for free."
    Clark Snyder:
    "I think we need TV and radio spots like Hollywood is doing for illegal 
    movie downloading.  Creating a legal downloading system is the key.  I 
    would infiltrate illegal sites with legal downloading options that pop up 
    like some other sites are now doing effectively.  More artists & writers 
    need to tale the risk and stand up and take a public stand on this matter."
    Donna DeSopo:
    "Doesn't illegal say it all?  This is against the law.  Music is a creative 
    intellectual property and the creators are entitled to earn a profit.  They 
    own it and no one should steal their work.  Great music comes with a price, 
    because it is priceless."
    Harry Date:
    "It's wrong, but people won't stop doing it until they fear the penalty for 
    doing so.  The current industry approach is the correct response  go after 
    Ann Roux:
    "I'd like to ask one question of those who defend this illegal 
    activity.  How would you like it if I just waltzed into your house and 
    walked out carrying every belonging of yours I felt like owning and not 
    paying for?  That's how I feel about it."
    D.R. Theroux:
    "Illegal music downloading is a form of theft, the taking of intellectual 
    property.  Such theft degrades the songwriting profession greatly."
    Donna Dean:
    "More education is needed on illegal downloading to let people know that 
    even though the record companies and recording artists may be filthy rich, 
    most songwriters are not."
    Rodney Hayden:
    "Downloading music from the Internet is nothing more than stealing, plain 
    and simple.  It is also an easy way steal.  It's about time people in the 
    music industry come together and legally put an end to this abomination."
    Hugh Prestwood, number-one Country Music hit songwriter:
    Dear File-sharers,
    What is becoming increasingly clear is that the great majority of you truly 
    feel no guilt about the "sharing" of what I have created and own -- my 
    music.  You have lumped together many professions  artists, songwriters, 
    engineers, producers, publishers, etc. into one big ugly corporate 
    caricature -- a rich and corrupt industry that can be stolen from 
    remorselessly.  Additionally, in your "yes, Virginia, there is a free 
    lunch" mentality, you have unthinkingly devalued songs to the extent that 
    you perceive them as trifles  something of little value to be partaken and 
    enjoyed at no cost.  Moreover, you have unfairly condemned me and my record 
    industry peers for bringing the law to bear against you.  In classic "blame 
    the victim" reasoning, you lay the responsibility for my losses at my feet, 
    saying, in essence, that the problem is not your theft, but rather my 
    inability to prevent it.
    Well, file-sharers, I righteously say "bull."  I, songwriter/publisher, 
    labored for years to create those songs, and I really do legally own 
    them.  I  not you -- have the right to control what happens to them, a 
    right your technology does not trump.  You are dead wrong to simply give my 
    songs away and undermine my only chance to profit from my creations.  Don't 
    tell me that I should gracefully pardon your hand in my pocket.  Don't 
    insinuate to me that, because your thievery is so facile, perhaps I should 
    find some other way to make a living.  Your "hobby" is taking the bread off 
    my table, and I have every right to use any and all legal means possible to 
    discourage your destructive practices.
    Let us come together.  You often love what I create, and I need to make a 
    living.  I have been trying for several years now to find a way for us both 
    to be happy  where you can easily acquire my songs and I can be justly 
    rewarded for my creativity.  Try as I might, however, thus far I have been 
    unable to find a way to compete with "free".  You must help me.
    First, you must wake up from your fantasy that songs should rightly be 
    free, and that no one is being hurt by your theft.  I and all my fellow 
    songwriters (among others) are seeing our futures seriously 
    threatened.  Second, you must "raise your consciousness" to where you 
    understand that a career in music is brutally serendipitous and difficult 
    to maintain.  The ability of artists and songwriters to have any kind of 
    dependable, longer-term, income is entirely linked to their ability to 
    control their copyrights.   Without copyright protection, aspiring artists 
    and songwriters had best not ever consider quitting their day jobs.
    Finally, you must realize that in real life you really do get what you pay 
    for.  If you won't pay for music, you will soon be receiving a product 
    commensurate with your thriftiness.  A society that doesn't value a 
    commodity enough to pay for it will soon see the creation and production of 
    that commodity cease.
    --Hugh Prestwood
    # # #
    Music Community's Multi-Pronged Campaign
    Is On Track
    The music community's multi-pronged campaign to deter the illegal 
    distribution of copyrighted works online and encourage the continued growth 
    of the legitimate online services is on track.
    GOAL:  To foster a business environment where legitimate online music 
    services can grow and thrive.
    Progress Report
    	fast growing acceptance and recognition that offering substantial amounts 
    of copyrighted music without the permission is illegal and that these 
    lawsuits are open-and-shut cases ("Even Fred von Lohmann, an attorney for 
    the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has aided in the defense of many 
    tech companies accused of copyright infringement, said he's hard-pressed to 
    come up with a defense under current law for someone who copies millions of 
    files and then makes them available, without permission, to the world via 
    the Internet."  File-Traders in the Crosshairs, CNET News.com, July 15, 2002)
    	evidence that a deterrence campaign against egregious offenders will 
    work:   recent research by Forrester shows that 68 percent of online youth 
    would stop downloading if faced with the threat of fines or jail time 
    (FYI:  The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced the first ever 
    criminal copyright infringement guilty plea for a man who was part of an 
    Internet piracy group specializing in the distribution of pre-released 
    music which eventually seeded peer-to-peer services and other distribution 
    	encouraging signs from independent research analysts such as Nielsen and 
    NPD group that the deterrence message is beginning to affect people's behavior
    	evidence collection on public peer-to-peer networks on track and continuing
    	universities and colleges responding to information subpoenas and 
    providing identifying information of those who are illegally offering 
    substantial amounts of copyrighted music on public peer-to-peer networks
    	virtually every ISP complying with obligations under the law and providing 
    identifying information of those who are illegally offering substantial 
    amounts of copyrighted music on public peer-to-peer networks
    	continued development and expansion of the legitimate online music 
    marketplace, with reports of additional, exciting new services expected to 
    be launched in the coming months.
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