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IDSA Forces Arcade Game Manual Archive Offline 215

Posted by timothy
from the legal-scrooge dept.
AtariKee writes "The IDSA and the DMCA has struck again, this time forcing the maintainer of Stormaster.com, a coin-operated video game manual and tech information archive, to shut down. Stormaster has been an invaluable resource for collectors of classic coin-operated video games for years, and this loss further demonstrates the idiocy that is the DMCA. I can understand ROM images to some extent, but 25 year old coin-op operator/tech manuals? The full text of the IDSA's letter can be read on Stormaster's site." Previous Slashdot posts about IDSA (Interactive Digital Software Association) show that this is typical of the organization.
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IDSA Forces Arcade Game Manual Archive Offline

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  • read carefully (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ummit (248909) <scs@eskimo.com> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:21PM (#6268649) Homepage
    ...forcing the maintainer of Stormaster.com to shut down... I can understand ROM images to some extent, but 25 year old coin-op operator/tech manuals?

    Well, I notice that the IDSA letter does not demand that those 25 year old manuals be taken down, or that the site be shut down -- the letter refers only to a list of 7 "game products" (which are presumably ROM images).

    • Re:read carefully (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tha_mink (518151)
      *you* should heed your own advice.

      Well, I notice that the IDSA letter does not demand that those 25 year old manuals be taken down, or that the site be shut down -- the letter refers only to a list of 7 "game products" (which are presumably ROM images).

      Sounds to me like you should have read the next paragraph.

      The unauthorized copies of such game product[s] appearing on, or made available through, such site are listed and/or identified on such Internet site by their titles, variations thereof or depic
      • Re:read carefully (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hpavc (129350)
        The depictions and references to 'game titles' and 'listings' is goofy. Do you think that they mean PacMan logo art here?

        Seems like they could attack ebay and anyone that doesnt use personal photos of stuff could be in violation.
  • by Guspaz (556486) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:22PM (#6268657)
    At the bottom of the page/letter:

    "
    Note: The information transmitted in this Notice is intended only for the
    person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or
    privileged material. Any review, reproduction, retransmission, dissemination
    or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by
    persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you
    received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from
    all computers."

    Isn't posting it on the internet the same as retransmitting or disseminating?
    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:28PM (#6268684) Homepage
      Isn't posting it on the internet the same as retransmitting or disseminating?

      No. The bit at the bottom applies to anyone who is NOT the intended recipient who might get the letter. If you drop some of the excess verbiage, it reads:

      "Any dissemination by persons other than the intended recipient is prohibited."

      • It also states no review by people other than the intended recipient. Am I not "reviewing" it by reading it on the website?
        • Am I not "reviewing" it by reading it on the website?

          No, that is plain old viewing. However there are probably people posting their REVIEWS of the letter on slashdot right now.

          P.S. Yes, I hit PREVEIW before posting LOL!

          -
        • Since you were given the document willingly by the recipient, it is OK. The disclamer only applies if you receive the document (for instance) on the way to the intended recipient by an erronious fax or mail mishap. Even then, I am not sure if it is actually binding in any sense, but definately if the authorized recipient decides to share it with us all, it is legal.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The disclaimer only goes to show that one Robert L. Hunter, IV working for Interactive Digital Software Association happens to come from a long line of asshats.
    • by OwnerOfWhinyCat (654476) * on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:40PM (#6268758)
      If you read closely the prohibitions apply to persons or entities other than the intended recipient. I believe the idea here is that the intended recipient is obligated to be truthful (at lawyer-point), but if his ISP sees the letter going by in the "suspicious mail" folder and does a routine SPAM reveiw on it, the ISP cannot then publish what he found.

      In fact to state that the intended recipient is not allowed to have the letter "reviewed" by a lawyer would be contrary to their purpose of using expensive lawyers to handle what should be done by decent thinking people.

      As a previous poster noted though, the letter does not include specific references to the manuals for those games, and it wasn't and endless list of games.

      If I had to take a wild stab at it I'd wager the site-owner is just frustrated by running a non-profit site that isn't doing any actual damage to anyones business and getting kicked in the teeth for it by lawyers anxious to justify their billable hours.

      "Look! We stopped another person from freely sharing information that will never be of use to anyone! That'll be $1200 dollars please."
      • The notice at the bottom is indeed intended for StorMaster, the intended recipient. This applies to all letters you receive from anybody, including e-mails; in the case of the letter you own the physical media (the paper) but you do NOT own the content and you do NOT have the right to publish it without the sender's permission.

        This is an area of copyright law which may not be intuitive, but it is well established. Republishing e-mail you receive without the permission of the sender is illegal. In this

        • Remember annoy.com (or something similar to that), where they were issued with an injunction and a gag order that prohibited them from even consulting with an attorney? It seems that large companies can prevent individuals from consulting with a laywer if they know the right legalese and enough corrupt judges.
        • I know with private correspondence, say a letter from me to you, it is certainly the case that republishing without permission is legally-uncool, and there are some reasons for that I can agree with.

          I would also wager that there are lawyers who for fear of bad P.R. for their sponsors would love the concept that they can bully people and automatically gag them at the same time. I also understand that they may have included this clause with that hope in mind.

          What I can't see as likely is to go before a
        • The notice at the bottom is indeed intended for StorMaster, the intended recipient.

          No, it explicitly states that it applies to peopel OTHER than the intended recioient.

          This applies to all letters you receive from anybody, including e-mails

          Wrong. It does not apply to legal notices. It is a purely functional notice, and use by the defendant is CLEARLY fair use. It would be a blatant miscarrage of justice to hamper the ability of defendants to defend themselves.

          -
        • Any review, reproduction, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited.

          On the other hand, if you drop out some of the excess words, you're left with:

          Any ... retransmission ... of this information by persons ... other than the intended recipient is prohibited.

          which I'm sure any reasonably competent attorney would interpret as implicit permission to retransmit, provided th

      • We stopped another person from freely sharing information that will never be of use to anyone!

        I believe it would be more accurate to say We stopped another person from freely sharing information that will never be of Profit to anyone!

    • I could send you an email prohibiting you from eating ice cream for the rest of your life. Until there's some binding agreement between us, rather than just a one way message from me, the correct response to such a prohibition is "ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha..."

      Cheers,
      Ian

    • Your sig barks loud but doesn't bite so much: ACs might reply something insightful that might climb up into your view.

      DMCA, shme-ehm-see-ayy... your attitude is exactly what you would vehemently argue against Microsoft if the situation were proper: show your name (and be subject to 'persecution' - karma), or be censored.

      two points to clear up about this post:

      it's quite sad that 'persecution' on this site is based on this karma crap and the idiotic moderators deciding it... it's sad, but it's actually al

  • by parliboy (233658) <`parliboy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:24PM (#6268666) Homepage
    Wow, I didn't know Tron 2.0 was in the arcade!
    • by sllim (95682)
      I wonder if this is the real problem.
      I think Tron 2.0 is the name of the new movie coming out, and probably the name of the crappy video game tie in as well.

      You think he grabbed some images of the game and posted them to his website?

      I wonder if he hadn't done that if they would have left him alone.

      Hmmmm....
  • I believe this is their number... Attention: Piracy Enforcement Ãââoe DMCA Officer Telephone: 202-223-2400 Fax: 202-223-2401 E-mail: dmca@idsa.com
  • For PC game manuals (Score:4, Informative)

    by jmaatta (550428) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:28PM (#6268688)
    The Underdogs [the-underdogs.org] has manuals of many old (but better than most of the newer ones) PC games available for downloading. You can also have the games for some of the manuals, but don't tell anyone.
    • Underdogs only posts stuff that they have permission to post. Not all the game publishers are hoarding every bit of IP they can.

      Don't forget to donate a few bucks to keep the site up!

      • Re:Tell Everyone (Score:3, Informative)

        by blincoln (592401)
        Underdogs only posts stuff that they have permission to post. Not all the game publishers are hoarding every bit of IP they can.

        No, they post whatever they can get their hands on, and hope that publishers don't take legal action against them. Didn't you read their FAQ?
  • 25 year old (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Uh, last time I checked, copyrights lasted longer than that [unc.edu]. How is this wholly the DMCA's fault?
    • Re:25 year old (Score:3, Insightful)

      by norton_I (64015)
      The DMCA forces the ISP to take the complaint as legitimate and take down the content or risk being included on a future suit, leaving the site owner responsible to prove his innocence before being allowed to put the material back up. With no penalty for unjustly accusing someone of copyright infringment, it make is too easy for lawyers "representing" IP holders to crawl the web looking for names that seem similar products they own and send out automatic threatening emails, with no human ever checking to s
  • Is anyone surprised? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by McAddress (673660) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:31PM (#6268708)
    So far this law has been used to prosecute sewing pattern pirates. Now it is being used to go after videogame websites. If Orrin Hatch has his way, the RIAA will be able to destroy your computer. More and more it looks like Richard Stallman [openschooling.org] might not have been that far off.
    • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles DOT jones AT zen DOT co DOT uk> on Sunday June 22, 2003 @04:14PM (#6268953)
      It might have been fairer for the DMCA to have had a cutoff point, like minus 10 years from the introduction of the act.

      There are plenty of Commodore and Sinclair ROMs, manuals and diagrams on the net. They're available to keep such old gear working for future generations to see. What next, ban the distribution of classic car manuals and sue people for producing reproduction parts?
      • It might have been fairer for the DMCA to have had a cutoff point

        Yeah, and that point should be on the neck of the guy that introduced the bill.

        ---------- Cut off on dotted line

        -
      • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @08:18PM (#6270297)
        A few years ago I read an article suggesting that a dark age of sorts could come about because we are storing so much information in electronic form only. IIRC, their premise was that information might not get rolled forward onto new media when its original storage medium becomes obsolete.

        Originally, I thought this was just a little farfetched, but I worry a little about trends I see. Some companies now seem to desire the ability to turn a profit on any innovation for all eternity by maintaining everlasting copyrights, patents and IP rights. Maybe this will be one of the driving forces that causes the loss of knowledge about old technology and "unimportant" information.

        I think the US will pay a big price in the long term by passing these "mediocrity protection" laws. I would not be surprised at all to see more and more smart people begin going to countries where they won't be blocked at every turn when they try to build on other people's work.
      • Yes. VW (volkswagen) already is sueing people for making replacement car parts. If the ad or a website says VW they are in copyright infringement. Or "bug" for that matter. So they cant say on the part its a VW part replacement, they cant say VW parts sold here, without paying royalties. Nice way to get rid of that pesky old car don't you think?
        • Pretty dumb since they're only obliged to make replacement parts for 10 years after the last car rolled off the production line.

          Once original parts have dried up you can't fix your car (which might turn out to be a classic someday)
    • This story seems to get closer to reality every time I read it. Very scary...

      I think Stallman needs to write a sequel to it, or a new version that's much longer and expands on it, going into much greater detail about how this society of 2047 operates.
  • Motivation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by niom (638987) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:31PM (#6268709)
    I fail to see the motivation in some of these cease and desist actions by large companies; Blizzard recent shutdown of Freecraft is another example. What's the point? Simply showing they can?
    • Re:Motivation? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by qorkfiend (550713)
      It's probably more along the lines of a deterrent, much like the criminal justice system. They can't catch everyone, and they know it. So, they choose a few of the more obvious "lawbreakers" to make an example of, in hopes of getting everyone else to think "uh oh, they could come after me next, time to get rid of my MP3s/ROMs/etc."

      Aside from the glaring flaws in our legal system, the deterrent idea doesn't seem to work too terribly well, and I doubt it will work very well in the digital arena, either. I
      • Not only am I not close to halting my own illicit practices, but I'm trying to figure out a way to build an impenetrable barrier between those like myself, and the DMCA apologists, narcs, and lawyers of the world.

        See sig for details.
  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tyrdium (670229) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:33PM (#6268715) Homepage
    IDSA has a good faith belief that the Internet site found at http://www.stormaster.com/ infringes the rights of one or more IDSA members by offering for download one or more unauthorized copies of one or more game products protected by copyright, including, but not limited to:

    It looks like what he's being accused of is having warez on his site, not manuals. Of course, if the manuals also included schematics for some reason (repairs?), then by having the schematics up on his site he would be allowing someone to reproduce the game. I'm not sure what was in the manuals, since I never got a chance to see them...

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

      Looking in the google cache [google.com], it appears as though the manuals where scanned images.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by macwhiz (134202) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @04:00PM (#6268894)

      Looking at the Wayback Machine [archive.org] archive for the stormaster.com site, it looks like it included ROM images. That'd probably be why the DMCA was invoked.

      I can understand why the game makers would want those ROMs taken down. People are still willing to pay for versions of the classic games -- look at the various "oldies" cartridges for modern game systems. Two of the games on the list I know to be available in stores: Frogger was recently remade as a 3D game, as was Dig Dug. Both include the "classic" game. (I saw Dig Dug at my local job-lot clearance store just the other day.)

      It's not a case of the code having no value. Clearly, you can still sell that code. So, having it available for anyone with MAME to use is stealing from the pockets of the current rights-holders.

      As much as I think DMCA is bad law and is abused, this is one case where it seems to be used as intended.

      • it looks like it included ROM images. That'd probably be why the DMCA was invoked.

        That could well be; it looks like the wayback machine hasn't cached the pages involved. But some ROM copies are legal and encouraged; I own an Addams' Family machine, and the manufacturer posted ROM updates on their web site for it. Anybody know what was actually there?
      • What some companies are doing is selling the old ROMS on cd. This is smart. They collect like 50 of thier "classic" games and sell them for like $5-9. This then allows you to download any rom for any architecture you use. They are happy, you are legal. Why not more of this?
  • Overseas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:33PM (#6268717)
    Why not just give the site content to somebody living in a country where "freedom" still means something.
  • by HardcoreGamer (672845) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:38PM (#6268747)

    If the site originally hosted tech manuals for the games and not the actual game ROMs themselves, it doesn't appear that the site would have to be taken down. The letter appears to refer only to the software, not information about the software.

    Then again, this could be the operative phrase:

    any such game titles, copies, listings and/or other depictions of, or references to, any contents of such game product, are hereinafter referred to as "Infringing Material"

    If the IDSA was smart they would sponsor the site instead of trying to shut it down. There are a couple of concepts known as good faith and goodwill. It would behoove them to start practising both.

    • Yes (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mindstrm (20013)
      But then you have to go through the trouble of writing letters to your isp, and responding to the lawyers, etc, or possibly end up in court.

      He's probably taking it down because it's a pain in the ass to deal with, and he really doesn't care.

      This, btw, is one of the things about the DMCA that erally sucks; rather than forcing the complainer to get a proper court order to down the site, where they would have to show some evidence of harm, etc, they can just send out letters and force everyone into defence.
    • If the IDSA was smart...
      There are a couple of concepts known as good faith and goodwill.


      +12 Funny!

      -
  • by pclinger (114364) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:40PM (#6268760) Homepage Journal
    The notice tells the owner of the site to stop offering for download a few specific items that the letter claims were on it's site. There was nothing in the letter which stated the entire site must be taken down.

    I can understand ROM images to some extent, but 25 year old coin-op operator/tech manuals?

    Read the letter. It doesn't say to take down any manuals. The person who shut down this site shut it down on their own accord. They could have just removed those specific items for download and they would be in the free-and-clear.
    • He says

      Sorry everyone but stormaster.com has been taken down! I'm tired of dealing with DMCA lawyers.

      So I would guess that after being bothered numerous times he doesn't care if he can remove a few more manuals and make that lawyer go away since another will be pestering him next week.
    • I agree. The letter's wording:

      IDSA has a good faith belief that the Internet site found at http://www.stormaster.com/ infringes the rights of one or more IDSA members by offering for download one or more unauthorized copies of one or more game products protected by copyright, including, but not limited to:

      Dig Dug
      Donkey Kong
      Frogger
      Mario
      Pac Man
      SWAT
      Tron 2.0 (game)

      Indicates to me that IDSA mistakenly thinks the site is offering the game ROMs for download, which it is not. In any case, removing th

      • Maybe in legalese "game product" and "including, but not limited to" have precise defenitions, but I really think this was a call to remove all content in anyway related to games. Manuals are "game products" and the list of games is not exclusive. To be safe, this guy really has to take everything down, then track down (not easy -- game companies change hands so often) game owner and see if it is OK to post manuals OR go to court to show that publishing manuals for obsolete games online is OK.

        The latter
        • Not that I understand legalese, but I don't think there is any court I could take the manual for say my DVD player in and refer to it as the DVD product.

          I wonder if they look at it somehow as providing some sort of help to MAME, which is obviously designed only to traffic in stolen ROMS :)
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:40PM (#6268764) Homepage
    Such a site is illegal under copyright laws going back to at least the Copyright Act of 1909, and probably back well before that.
    • you're right, this site is in violation of Copyright laws. however, the problem is that the DMCA did step in on this one. Perhaps because of the first word, Digital. Either way, the DMCA shouldn't be getting involved in this.
    • Pay attention. The DMCA gives them the ability to request that the content must be taken down immediately, without further proof or court ruling that it is indeed infringing.

      Hence the part "IDSA has a good faith belief". I'm not sure what the punishment for not following a DMCA notice is though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:41PM (#6268772)
    The guy was distributing game manuals for Dig Dug and Frogger... when you read 20-year old video game manuals, you're reading COMMUNISM!
  • Is it just me? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oaf357 (661305) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:45PM (#6268798) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me or does it seem like these DMCA claims are always targetted at people who can't really fight them?
    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Naikrovek (667)
      that's how you get precedents. you weasel your ass into places that people can't give you your just deserves, then claim that "if i was wrong they would have stopped me."

      hopefully someone somewhere is cooking up some ideas of revenge using these same rules.
    • If you want to check out your theory, you can look at Chilling Effects [chillingeffects.org], an archive of threat letters like this.
  • Why risk? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Glendale2x (210533)
    Okay, now I'm not aware of what was on the site beyond what the letter on the site and the /. story say, however...

    In today's litigation happy world, why even risk having ROM images available? Such things are just begging for trouble. The cease and desist letter sounds like some copy of the game itself (beyond tech manuals) was available.

    If it was just tech manuals, then yeah, it's stupid. For ROM images, whoever put them there is stupid. It doesn't matter what we think about the software in question, if
  • archived (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oohp (657224)
    There is still an archive [archive.org] from the 4th of July 2002 at the Wayback Machine. Mirror it and make a Freesite on Freenet.
    • ...Wayback Machine. Mirror it ...

      The Wayback only has a few text pages, not the actual files hosted.

      Here's the text of the opening page; it did have ROMS, as well as manuals. So unfortunately it was blatantly illegal -- though definitely done for love, not money.

      Welcome to the Arcade, Pinball Collectors Archives

      An Ad Free Web site (Don't want them, Don't need them!)
      Be Cool be Banner Free!
      Al Kossow Arcade Game Collector's Archive (Mirror)
      R.G.V.A.C Manuals
      Pinball Machine Manuals, Score Cards and More

  • Bot. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrseigen (518390) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @03:48PM (#6268826) Homepage Journal
    I think this is a bot; the IDSA has gone after tons of innocent game sites before with their scripts. I severely doubt a real human would confuse "manuals for download" with "ROMS for everyone".
  • Looking at the manufacturers of the games in question -
    Dig Dug - Atari/Infogrames
    Donkey Kong - Nintendo
    Frogger - Konami
    Mario - Nintendo
    Pac Man - Midway
    SWAT - Sega
    Tron 2.0 (game)
    Okay I think I may understand the Tron 2.0 [gamezone.com] given that a new PC game is soon to be released. The only other game that is still "current" with successful sequels is Mario. I can understand protecting all rights with those two. Frogger? Every sequel has sucked monkey nuts (Swampy's revenge anyone?). Dig Dug Deeper? The other game
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @04:15PM (#6268961) Homepage
    25 year old manuals are still copyrighted for many years to come, and is fairly common worldwide (not that that equals good, but anyway).

    The parts I really don't like about the DMCA is that is makes it illegal to use my own property, like play my DVD under Linux, or make a back-up of it for my DVD-less laptop.

    Soon it'll get here too with the EUCD. Sigh.

    Kjella
  • by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Sunday June 22, 2003 @04:17PM (#6268969)
    a coin-operated video game manual and tech information archive

    Instructions
    1) Select manuals to be read.
    2) Insert coin(s) to buy time.
    3) To extend time, press the red button and insert more coins... ... and don't you dare post a ??? PROFIT!!! joke after this...
  • Step 1: Contract with web host in Vanuatu
    Step 2: Move site to their server

    So what is the problem?

    It should be standard practice now for any site admin based in the US who thinks their site has any chance of violating the dmca to host it in a country such as Vanuatu, and keep the owners identity unknown.
  • Just did a search and I'm seeing similar results - c64 had a dmca notice [c64.org] for Diablo,Dig Dug,Donkey Kong,Frogger,Mario,Pac Man,Soldier Of Fortune, Spider-Man (Game),Tron 2.0 (game). Same with mame.net [216.239.39.100] for Pac Man They're even chasing dcc's [frgp.net] eDonkey [open-files.com] .. They're chasing eveything. The most interesting thing is the Incident #'s. Most agencies prefix their incident #'s with year, but this isn't the case.. their #'s are linear. Have they already submitted almost 1,000,000 ceast and decists?
    -B
  • ... they can still sue him. Quote from the end of the email:

    Note: The information transmitted in this Notice is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, reproduction, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete th

  • This has nothing to do with the DMCA, such activity was copyright infringement even under Berne.
  • Is this a case where offshore web hosting might be a good idea?

    Come to think of it, for any content even slightly "controversial" (or heck, the way the DMCA is being used, that might mean all content), would hosting it completely offshore on offshore servers actually help anyything?

    Does the DMCA apply overseas?

  • This is not a DMCA issue. Those manuals are copyrighted works, and they have at least another 50 years on them. The Directors of the corps involved could easily be sued by their shareholders for not properly protecting their intellectual property if they didnt ask the work be taken down.


    P.S. Btw the same legal theory can be used against the operating officers of SCO for not properly protecting what were the property rights to unix for the 10 years linux was out.
  • I just don't get it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by krelian (525362)
    Their are thousands of warez sites on the web, a few major p2p programs with millions of users, a flourishing IRC network used mainly for warez trafficking and the only sites that are brought down are the unique, special nische sites who serve a small community that are just trying to share their unique hobby. They will never stop piracy that way. The only thing that they are going to do is show us their stupidity and upset some decent people while they are doing that.

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