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University of Wisconsin-Madison Bucks RIAA 203

Posted by kdawson
from the not-your-agents dept.
stephencrane informs us of an interesting development at UW Madison. The school, along with many others, has been sent "settlement letters" by the RIAA with instructions to forward them to particular students (or other university community members) that the RIAA believes guilty of illegal filesharing. The letters order the assumed filesharers to identify themselves and to pay for the content they are supposed to have "pirated." The university has sent a blanket letter to all students, reiterating the school's acceptable use policies, but has refused to forward individual letters without a valid subpoena. This lawyer's blog reproduces the letter. The campus newspaper has some coverage on the university's stance.
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University of Wisconsin-Madison Bucks RIAA

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @01:56AM (#18411047)
    University of wisconsin's enrolments skyrocket.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by freehunter (937092)
      Actually, my school (Ferris State in Michigan) did this as well. I got a letter on my desk at work saying the school had been sent settlement letters and that Ferris does not monitor the network, so they would not release the names of students. Of course, we are most likely going to get sued for it, bu our lawyers are ready, I imagine.
    • the alumni donations also skyrocketed.

      Go Badgers!
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @01:57AM (#18411053) Homepage
    I was singing in the shower the other morning and I was greeted by a lawyer with a letter before my nipples had a chance to harden in the cold post-shower air. (In my defense I contend that I was not in violation because I don't actually know all the words and I was just singing the chorus parts that I was reasonable sure of...)
    • by Farmer Tim (530755) <roundfile@mind[ ]s.com ['les' in gap]> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @06:47AM (#18412113) Journal
      I was singing in the shower the other morning and I was greeted by a lawyer with a letter...

      You can only be prosecuted for a public peformance, which raises some interesting questions about your bathroom...
      • by LarsG (31008) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:16AM (#18412511) Journal
        ..and of the lawyer.
      • by beadfulthings (975812) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:34AM (#18412635) Journal
        I think you'll find that the RIAA has that covered:

        1) If you live in an apartment building or townhouse, or if your house is sitting on less than a half-acre of land; or if you share your domicile with roomates who are not part of your immediate family;

        OR

        2) If you are showering in a locker room, dormitory, or other public washroom facility;

        THEN your bathroom is deemed to be public and you are subject to prosecution. If your house is situated on more than a half-acre and is shared by members of your immediate family (defined as your spouse, parents, siblings, or children under the age of 21), your bathroom is deemed to be private. HOWEVER, you are advised to make provisions by not singing in the event you are entertaining houseguests.

        I understand they're working on sensing devices for shower heads. You should check with your local Home Depot to arrange to purchase your retrofit kit. New shower heads will be sold with the device already installed.

      • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@g m a i l .com> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:53AM (#18412799)
        "You can only be prosecuted for a public peformance"

        The RIAA will simply argue in favor of Cartesian dualism - that in fact the mind is a separate entity/observer, viewing the performance of the body, and is therefore an audience member, thus making it a public performance.
      • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @08:59AM (#18412855)

        which raises some interesting questions about your bathroom...
        Are you saying it's not supposed to be in the front yard?
      • You're assuming the RIAA would feel constrained by the copyright laws.... which it doesn't. It might call singing in the shower a "distribution". Singing in the shower is as much a "distribution" as some of the other things which the RIAA has been going about calling "distributions".
    • by PMuse (320639)
      There's a certain rhythm to that. It ought to be set to music.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Wisconsingod (995241)

      I love reading the funny comments many users place on slashdot. However, I prefer that Facts are available to those that want the truth.

      1) The RIAA has jurisdiction over RECORDINGS as given to them by their members. Nothing else. The have jusrisdiction over Britney Spears' recording of "Baby...one more time", but they cannot prevent you from singing it yourself.
      2) Thus, Given singing in the shower, or any other acapella public performance, is not a recording, RIAA has no Jurisdiction. The rights infri

  • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:01AM (#18411063)
    I think instead of the blanket statement that they will submit to a subpoena, they should have narrowed it to a subpoena for an alledged violator. Anything less may open the university to full access to student and campus network server logs in a driftnet subpoena. That should be fought tooth and nail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nacturation (646836)

      I think instead of the blanket statement that they will submit to a subpoena, they should have narrowed it to a subpoena for an alledged violator.
      So you're saying that in certain cases the university should choose to be in contempt of court?
       
      • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @09:35AM (#18413241)
        So you're saying that in certain cases the university should choose to be in contempt of court?

        No! I'm suggesting an over reaching subpoena should be contested. For example, an RIAA subpoena for your ISP for the infringer using IP x.x.x.x at 2:50 UCT on Jan 24 2007 is proper. Asking your ISP for all subscriber logs, port usage including times, and to whowm they connected to is over reaching and a fishing trip for evedince of activities they have no knowledge about.

        Do you think Comcast will give all subscriber records to the RIAA to troll through for everyone who connected to a Torrent Tracker with just a simple subpoena? The subpoena has to have evidence to support it and it can't be over reaching the evidence.

        There is a reason the RIAA does not have all the server logs from Comcast, Qwest, and every University. They have asked in the past. Fishing trips into ISP server logs and subscriber databases isn't allowed.

        That doesn't keep the RIAA from trying to get a fishing license anytime possible in an investigation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by purpleraison (1042004)

      I think instead of the blanket statement that they will submit to a subpoena, they should have narrowed it to a subpoena for an alledged violator. Anything less may open the university to full access to student and campus network server logs in a driftnet subpoena. That should be fought tooth and nail.

      Unfortunately, they don't get to choose which type of subpoena they submit to. If a court ordered subpoena is issued, regardless of what they would like to share they are required to share whatever they subp

  • by Gus (2568) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:05AM (#18411085) Homepage
    In Wisconson, "UW" refers to Madison. "UW-M" usually refers to Milwaukee.
  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:16AM (#18411137) Homepage
    They're not so much "Standing up to the RIAA", they're merely asking for due process in the form of a proper subpoena. The RIAA has enjoyed a remarkable level of convenience up until this point with regards to their university settlements, it will be interesting to see if they actually bother to take the time to get the required paperwork together. All of their other cases that have shown up in the media have seemed pretty slapdash, at best.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865)
      My first thought when I heard about this was rather similar. That is "why did they send the notices to the university, if they knew the exact students?". A subpoena is usually served in person, to the person it is intended for and I believe it is usually signed for by the recipient (if the delivery person can sucker them into doing it before they figure out what it is).
      • Re:well (Score:5, Funny)

        by McFadden (809368) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:45AM (#18411267)

        why did they send the notices to the university, if they knew the exact students?
        From the tone of the question I'm sure you already know the answer, but presumably because they think:

        1. universities will cave-in rather than risk any involvement in a law suit
        2. students will be forced to pay if the university is involved, because the few thousand dollars settlement is nothing compared to the tens of thousands at risk if the student gets kicked off their course.
        3. because they're a bunch of fucking thugs with morals that make Hitler look like a guy you'd want to marry your daughter.

        Oh fuck... I think I've just Godwinned myself.
        • Re:well (Score:5, Funny)

          by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @04:21AM (#18411573) Homepage Journal

          Oh fuck... I think I've just Godwinned myself.
          If there isn't special dispensation given when discussing the fascist scum-sucking parasite nazi's that are the *IAA, there damned well should be.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by prichardson (603676)
            because using strong-arm tactics to corner a market, financially ruin families, and hamstring technological advances is just like committing genocide...

            The RIAA is bad, but they're nothing compared to the Nazis.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by heinousjay (683506)
              The pirates are mad, and apparently they have mod points.
            • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

              by shudde (915065)

              because using strong-arm tactics to corner a market, financially ruin families, and hamstring technological advances is just like committing genocide...

              The RIAA is bad, but they're nothing compared to the Nazis.

              The parent is right, it's an unfair comparison.

              The Nazi party spent around ten years building up to genocide, I say we give the RIAA a little more time.

            • Just give then a little more power and we'll see how just is the comparation.

              My bet is that they'll become quiet with some 10% of the economy as tribute, so it is unfair.

              • by Chmcginn (201645)

                Just give then a little more power and we'll see how just is the comparation. My bet is that they'll become quiet with some 10% of the economy as tribute, so it is unfair.
                Now, I'm not supporting the whole "RIAA=Nazi" thing. But I really hope you're kidding on this - throughout history, when a group that looked for power/money got some, they keep looking for more, and more, and more.
                • Yes, it's sarcasm. Also because if you give 10% of your money to some unproductive beast like the RIAA, you'd be near 7% poor year after year. That is not a sustainable situation.
            • The RIAA is bad, but they're nothing compared to the Nazis.
              Copyright infringers are bad, but nothing like *Pirates*. Unless you want to compare murder, rape, and theft in the high seas to making an illegal copy.

              Come to think of it, we need a really derogatory name for companies that alienate their customerbase like this.... I vote for *molesters*, in that they bother their customer base (from the spanish molestar). Vague but it conveys a good image for them!

        • Oh fuck... I think I've just Godwinned myself.


          That's OK; just substitute Stalin, Pol Pot, Bin Laden or whatever other thug of choice you prefer and continue as before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mpe (36238)
        My first thought when I heard about this was rather similar. That is "why did they send the notices to the university, if they knew the exact students?".

        If they knew the exact students they could have addressed the notices to the students. Most likely the university dosn't want to play detective for free.
        • by BCW2 (168187)
          "Most likely the university dosn't want to play detective for free."

          There is no reason they should, by law or any other logic. The **AA's need to be forced to spend the money to do all the research needed to file these suits. Then a good defense lawyer can apply the "true cost" of $.99 to each song since that is the most they sell for at "legitimate online outlets". When the **AA's start collecting only a freaction of their expenses on each suite, they will stop, or bleed to death. Making them pay the defen
          • by mpe (36238)
            Then a good defense lawyer can apply the "true cost" of $.99 to each song since that is the most they sell for at "legitimate online outlets".

            Since presumably the seller is making some kind of profit on that price the actual cost is likely to be somewhat lower.
            • by BCW2 (168187)
              Very true, but I was trying to keep things simple. Wouldn't want to confuse the simple minds at the RIAA, they can't seem to grasp technology so ideas might be harder. That of course assumes they might think to read this site!
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        hat is "why did they send the notices to the university, if they knew the exact students?

        Probably because they only knew their IP numbers.

        • If this truly is the case, and if I were UW-M, I would respond simply with, "We use DHCP to assign IP addresses to our students. We can tell you nothing about who these belong to, since they could theoretically change on a day-to-day basis."

          Of course, if UW-M has any sense, they're all behind multiple routers/switches/NATs/what-have-you, and the **AA wouldn't know individual IPs.
          • That's silly... Can you say RADIUS? Or do you propose that the university's network just lets anything onto it, unauthenticated?
            • That's not the point. When a student connects, they're randomly assigned an IP via DHCP. Sure, the school might know who has a certain IP at any given time, but they're subject to change. No one student will have the same IP for any extended amount of time, unless they're manually assigning their IP address, which is doubtful. They'd know that whoever was connected was "authenticated", but unless they kept logs of who had what IP address when, it'd be difficult to say with any certainty who had a certain IP
      • My first thought when I heard about this was rather similar. That is "why did they send the notices to the university, if they knew the exact students?".

        Rule #1. Sue the guy with the money.
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      Might there not be a certain public image aspect to this?

      The university doesn't want to be seen as being willing to hand over its students for prosecution, because this might impact their admission rates. Being tainted by the RIAAs public image can't be good.

      Just speculation, but if they back out of the whole process then they can say it's none of their concern. After all, are universities asked to pass on parking fines?
  • Original Email Text (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:14AM (#18411365)

    I didn't RTFA, but I did get a chance to RTF email!

    Subject: UW-Madison copyright compliance notice
    Date: 03/16/2007

    The recording industry is threatening lawsuits against those who may have engaged in illegal file sharing. They are currently targeting students who live in university residence halls. Recently, UW-Madison and other universities have been notified that they will receive settlement letters that are to be passed on to the individuals whom the senders believe to be guilty of copyright infringement. Consistent with current network management procedures and our understanding of federal law, UW-Madison does not plan to forward these letters directly to campus network users. We will, of course, comply with a valid subpoena.

    However, if the UW-Madison is given cause to believe that a student, faculty or staff network user may have infringed on copyrights, it will take action. University network policies empower the CIO to terminate that person's network access until the matter is resolved. The Dean of Students office (for students) or supervisors (for employees) will be notified and other disciplinary action may be taken, as appropriate.

    Unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted works is illegal in many circumstances, and a violation of the university's Appropriate Use Policy. Please be advised of your rights and responsibilities under these rules. For more information, see: http://www.doit.wisc.edu/security/policies/appropr iate_use.asp [wisc.edu]

    Fun stuff--Pretty glad I'm out of the dorms. Maybe I'll get one of these from Charter...

  • A good step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by btempleton (149110) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:20AM (#18411393) Homepage
    But there is a vastly simpler way to stand up to the RIAA on matters like this.

    Erase your logs after a short period of time. Don't keep a record of what IP address was allocated to what account at any given time.

    Then if the RIAA shows up, not simply with letters, but with lawsuits and court orders, you still can simply say "don't have the info."

    This is what librarians do at many libraries. After you return the book, they destroy the circulation record. There is no record of what books you have read.

    Yes, this means giving up using the logs for your own enforcement activities done after the fact. You can have a live database, or even keep the records for a few hours if you want to respond to problems same day. After that, no luck. But why is that so terrible? It's not like people who want to be anonymous for something truly nasty can't find an open wireless node these days. Main problem is that IT admins can't bear the thought of giving up control.

    However, this would save the universities a ton of money (no need for legal department to handle requests) and it would also save the students a ton of money ($4000 per student served, $3000 with the "discount") which they could be spending on education.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Nazlfrag (1035012)

      This is what librarians do at many libraries. After you return the book, they destroy the circulation record. There is no record of what books you have read.

      ISPs should be held to the same standard. It would be difficult if not impossible to differentiate between someone innocently browsing and someone mischievously pirating, so the onus is not on them to maintain IP address logs but rather on the RIAA to prove copyright infringement. In the same way, it's not the library's responsibility if you OCR or xe

      • by mpe (36238)
        In the same way, it's not the library's responsibility if you OCR or xerox one of their books,

        Or copied a CD, DVD or video tape you borrowed. Which tends to be easier since machines which can turn pages arn't too common.

        it's up to the litigant to prove you infringed on their copyright.

        If they need some third party to help them that third party is perfectly justified in charging them. (Even if no relevent evidence is found.)
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        I fear the notion of having no record of books we have read is already a relic of the history books. We must fight those who wish to record our every movement and action lest we succumb to totalitarianism.

        Use an alias wherever you can. Library, credit cards, it's even possible on the airlines if you get a good set of papers. Be a good citizen, don't steal, but subvert the information-gathering monster as much as possible.
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      wouldn't work. Erased logs would just mean more costs as the RIAA dragged you through a process of trying to identify the people concerned.

      Since the main aim here is to force universities to police their students of behalf of the RIAA, this would suit the RIAA just fine. They make your life difficult until to close down campus file sharers.
    • by mpe (36238)
      This is what librarians do at many libraries. After you return the book, they destroy the circulation record. There is no record of what books you have read.

      That's because the main reason for keeping a record is to ensure that the library can get the books they loan back. The only situation in which they'd want to keep longer records (say the last few loans of a book) would be to guard against possibility of a borrower defacing books. This dosn't do much for books which are defaced whilst still within the
      • by adavies42 (746183)
        Whatever happened to the bond-backed anonymous library cards I read about a couple years ago? The idea was that instead of securing their trust with contact information, you would secure it with cash, and then be able to borrow up to the value of your deposit, completely anonymously.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by VShael (62735)
      But there is a vastly simpler way to stand up to the RIAA on matters like this.

      Erase your logs after a short period of time. Don't keep a record of what IP address was allocated to what account at any given time.

      Oblig : I am not a lawyer...

      I'm pretty sure Europe recently passed a series of data retention laws, forcing any net provider to keep their logs for some period of time. (Might have been something insane and impractical like 7 years... memory not the best right now)

      Considering that Europe us

    • by Adambomb (118938) *

      which they could be spending on education.
      Hate to be a linguistic nazi, but you spelled beer wrong.
  • how it should be (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:35AM (#18411445) Homepage
    This is how it should be. No company (or school) should give out anything just because they got a letter. A court order should be the only time they give anything up. Sadly this does not seem to be the case. It must be cheaper for them to just cave to demands than fight them. Customers just dont care.
  • by subsonic (173806) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @04:23AM (#18411579) Journal
    As most people on this site are aware of, the RIAA has been sending letters like this to colleges all over the country for years now. I'm sure the language changes, basically trying to pry open cases that they can then use to prove that University networks are somehow responsible for the continued "piracy".

    Wisconsin's response is totally in keeping with the practices of any of the major universities that have recieved such letters. And the fact that they said, "show us a court order, and we'll do it" is not "bucking" anything, unless following the law is now rebellious ("bizarro!").
  • Extortion? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aoreias (721149) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @04:32AM (#18411611)
    It seems to me that the threat of a lawsuit unless one pays up is exactly what constitutes extortion. Anyone know of any cases where people are standing up and taking legal action against the RIAA/corporations the RIAA is representing?
    • by westlake (615356)
      It seems to me that the threat of a lawsuit unless one pays up is exactly what constitutes extortion. Anyone know of any cases where people are standing up and taking legal action against the RIAA/corporations the RIAA is representing?

      It is not extortion when you are offered a chance to settle a claim out-of-court.

      The alleged infringer has to be realistic about his choices. The rules of evidence. The cost of litigation.

      In the federal system the odds are about 1 in 100 that a civil case will go to a benve

  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @05:46AM (#18411875) Journal

    To whom it may concern among the lawyers for the RIAA.

    We the staff here at the UW-Madison take allegations of piracy on our network most seriously. Rest assured that we have the situation under control, and there is no need for further action on your part. We have identified the students that you have claimed as being engaged in illegal file sharing, and disciplinary action has been taken.

    Specifically, the students in question were all freshmen ladies who did not fully realize the gravity of their actions. In three days, we will hold an assembly of all the entire student body and faculty in the stadium. At this time, all of these young, nubile miscreants will be properly paddled as punishment for their illegal actions.

    Again, no further action is required upon your part. Thank-you for bringing this situation to our attention. The disciplinary ceremony will be posted to Youtube as soon as possible.

    Coridally,

    The Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @06:49AM (#18412125) Homepage

    UW has a long history of being a center of political activism, as far back as I can remember. Some of my oldest memories are the riots in Madison protesting the Viet Nam war.

    Another incident I remember is a student body president who raided the student association funds to create a life size copy of the head of the Statue of Liberty and the torch and park it out on the frozen lake one winter. Instead of getting kicked out for wasting funds, they were re-elected by a landslide and followed that trick by covering the commons with pink plastic flamingos. The details are hazy but that's mostly accurate.

    This is the school that for years had the Budweiser song as the unofficial school song. They'd play that song before football games and the entire stadium would shutter from tens of thousands of people stomping their feet in time to the music and at the end yelling, "When you say Wissss-con-sin. You've said it all!"

    It's the town where a man got arrested for walking naked down State Street at 2 am. In those days he would not have attracted the attention of the police even then had he not been dragging a dead muskrat at the time. The cops said they stopped to ask where he got the muskrat.

    The point is if there was going to be any place that would tell the clueless mofo's at RIAA to go stuff it's little surprise it would be UW.

    So do people still go to the Stone Hearth (aka The Stone Hole)? Used to listen to this really loud little band there...you may remember then as Cheap Trick.

    • by jc42 (318812)
      It's the town where a man got arrested for walking naked down State Street at 2 am. In those days he would not have attracted the attention of the police even then had he not been dragging a dead muskrat at the time. The cops said they stopped to ask where he got the muskrat.

      That's probably no real mystery. I remember sitting at tables on the grass behind the Union, between the patio and the lake, late on summer evenings, and watching muskrats come ashore looking for dropped food. There are lots of muskra
    • See this image [wikipedia.org] of the prank.

      For serious protest stuff, read the book Rads: The 1970 Bombing of the Army Math Research Center at the University of Wisconsin and Its Aftermath [amazon.com], by Tom Bates, for a detailed and evocative picture of the Vietnam protest era.

      There's also a wonderful documentary about it called "The War At Home," but I'm not sure where to track it down these days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by daveschroeder (516195) *
      Ahh, Madison.

      The only place where someone can bomb a University building [wikipedia.org], killing a postdoc getting ready to go on vacation with his wife and three children, and then come back to the city to open a popular deli in the heart of the city, blocks away from his murder, and be welcomed back with good reviews and a healthy patronage. The Radical Rye, as it was called, was displaced by the $200M Overture Center for the Arts [overturecenter.com], but he still has a juice cart called Loose Juice that you can patronize [igougo.com]. A this 4-out-of-
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jon_miner (182812)

        The only place where someone can bomb a University building, killing a postdoc getting ready to go on vacation with his wife and three children, and then come back to the city to open a popular deli in the heart of the city, blocks away from his murder, and be welcomed back with good reviews and a healthy patronage. The Radical Rye, as it was called, was displaced by the $200M Overture Center for the Arts, but he still has a juice cart called Loose Juice that you can patronize. A this 4-out-of-5 reviewer no

    • OK, on to totally off-topic random rambles down memory lane.

      One of my early experiences at UW was walking down University Avenue on a Friday evening, past a bar, and saying to my companion "What sort of a bar is this?" At that exact instant, three students come staggering out the door, and one of them bends over and barfs right there on the sidewalk. Without missing a beat, my companion says: "That sort of a bar."

      It was really amazing. You could drive around on the county highways and pass one cornfield wit
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by 1729 (581437)

      Another incident I remember is a student body president who raided the student association funds to create a life size copy of the head of the Statue of Liberty and the torch and park it out on the frozen lake one winter. Instead of getting kicked out for wasting funds, they were re-elected by a landslide and followed that trick by covering the commons with pink plastic flamingos. The details are hazy but that's mostly accurate.

      The Wisconsin State Journal recently did a "where are they now" type of piece on

  • UW warned 68 may face lawsuits on downloads [madison.com]

    The Recording Industry Association of America says it is targeting 68 people on University of Wisconsin System campuses for litigation over copyright infringements.

    [snip]

  • I am truly gratified by the University of Wisconsin's courageous stance against the RIAA's reign of terror. It's a pleasure to see a university standing up for its students instead of acting as a mindless enforcer for big corporations. Wisconsin is a great institution; and this is but another example of what makes it great. If I was a high school student trying to pick a college, or a parent of one, I would take heed: here is an institution that recognizes its educational mission.

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