For Staunch Copyright Defenders, Big Singers From Big Labels Seem To Copy From Others A Lot...

from the just-saying... dept

Reader Dan points us to a long, but fascinating article by someone tracing a number of stories involving famous Western pop stars copying famous songs that originated in Cameroon, without any credit (or, of course, money) -- including the song by Shakira that is currently the World Cup theme song -- which some folks did some online detective work to track down its origins:
Ze Bella who had retired from the Presidential Guards in 2002 was enjoying a quiet retirement in his village when he got a call from an acquaintance in France informing him that Shakira had just released a version of Zangalewa. This information was soon confirmed by Emile Kojidy another Golden Sounds alum now living in the United States. They were both right.

A few days earlier, the Internet had been inundated with buzz about the new song by Columbian pop star Shakira titled "Zaminamina" which was rumoured to be the official anthem for the FIFA 2010 World Cup. To many listeners, the song was eerily familiar and many bloggers and journalist sought to find out the origins of the song....

To Cameroonians and many African, the origins of the song was no mystery as they instantly recognized it as a remix of "Zangalewa". Thus began a frenzied online campaign to alert the world that this was not a Shakira original but a remix.
After the evidence became overwhelming, and people started complaining, Shakira's label (Sony) was forced to come to the table and settle (some believe that FIFA pushed them to make sure that the song was "cleared" before they would use it as the World Cup official song). Now, I, like many don't think there's anything wrong with musicians building on the works of others. It's how music has pretty much always been created. However, it does seem very hypocritical for all these big labels and big musicians to be whining about copyright infringement, when it appears that they try to get away with it themselves when they can.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:32am

    not just songs from cameroon

     

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  2.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:42am

    "it does seem very hypocritical for all these big labels and big musicians to be whining about copyright infringement, when it appears that they try to get away with it themselves when they can"

    Sony does care about copyright. It only cares about making money. If it can make money via copyright. It will. If it can make money violating copyright. It will.

     

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  3.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:42am

    This is an interesting movie

    I will now watch this movie for free. Thanks chris. Good post.

     

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  4.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:53am

    Re: This is an interesting movie

    check out steal this film II as well:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMaE0xBxf6o

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Copyright Lover

    LIES!!!!!
    ALL LIES!!!!!

     

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  6.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Unsurprising. Copyright only matters to these people when they think they're losing money - even when the facts suggest otherwise. I'm sure it won't stop them going after those "stealing" the Shakira version, despite them being the ones guilty of actual copyright theft and causing non-imaginary monetary loss in the first place.

    However, it does make you wonder how they thought they'd get away with it if they intended to use the Cameroon song as a World Cup song from the beginning. Since, you know, the World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world, Cameroon have a rabid football fanbase and their team tends to qualify regularly.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:07pm

    "it does seem very hypocritical for all these big labels and big musicians to be whining about copyright infringement, when it appears that they try to get away with it themselves when they can." - typical fast to damn those who are on the other side, without a whole bunch of information.

    first off, where did the song come from? was it from a writer, producer, whatever who submitted the song for shakira to record? did she claim to write it all herself? was it written by someone else? did a third party attempt to pass it off as original? who wrote the song?

    it is very typical, just like the slam at viacom earlier on. you try to make it as if these big companies are the borg, with one collective mind, knowledgeable of everything. they are not. they cannot climb into the minds of individual song writers to see if everything they do is 100% their own. there is no way. essentially, shakira and sony may be victims of fraud.

    sorry, but your moral outrage about the situation is laughable, where there is so much you are leaving out.

     

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  8.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:08pm

    The irony

    What's funny is when you watch the first movie posted. The ones that got rich off of the old folk tales of the past are the same ones suing to be protected by the government.

    Basically copyright is owned by the biggest whiners out there.

    Don't get me started on ASCAP or BMI...

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    Doubt it.

     

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  10.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    I side with the Africans

    I think proper credit should always be given. I don't want to encourage people to lift others' songs and claim them as their own.

    It's not like you can't already record what someone else wrote. Everyone is free to record another songwriter's song. And then the proper royalties are supposed to get back to the songwriter.

    Even if we get to a point where no royalties are paid, I think we should always acknowledge where our ideas come from, which is what I think was the point of Tande's piece. Pay respect and homage when it is due.

     

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    Jnomics, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    Any chance the tune was in the public domain or from a country that lacks well structured IP Laws?

    Regardless, I agree that it appears hypocritical. Independent of the financial issues, lack of attribution in art drives me crazy. Moreover, I often find understanding the origins of a work make it that much more appealing; the context provides a new dimension from which to view or listen to the piece.

    JNomics

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    Essentially, We all may be victims of fraud.

    Sweet defense, dude. Going to use that at the next copyright infringement trial I attend!

     

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  13.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    In reference to IP laws and cultural theft

    Some of you might find this of interest.

    Call To Sue Malaysia Over "Rasa Sayang" Unrealistic, Says Rais :: Bernama.com: "The call by Indonesian lawmakers for action against Malaysia for using the 'Rasa Sayang' folk song in its 'Truly Asia' tourism campaign which Indonesia has claimed to be its traditional song, has been described as unrealistic."

    Tourism Jingle Has Indonesia, Malaysia at Odds : NPR: "SULLIVAN: It's a pretty safe bet neighboring Indonesia won't be joining that celebration. In fact, many Indonesians are demanding Malaysia pull the song from its tourism campaign, claiming 'Rasa Sayang' belongs to Indonesia. The country's tourism and cultural minister is considering suing Malaysian for copyright infringement. The governor of Indonesia's Maluku province says it's a matter for the International Court of Justice.

    Malaysian officials seemed baffled and a bit bemused by the whole thing, but shouldn't be. Indonesian have long felt slighted by their smaller but more prosperous neighbor, which imports Indonesian laborers for construction a work many Malaysians won't do, and Indonesian maids to care for the children of Malaysia's middle and upper class; workers who are sometimes cheated or mistreated by the Malaysian employers."

    Where is the love? -- A saga in copyright! : Internet Business Law: "Malaysia however has rejected the allegations of breach of copyright saying that the song has origins in both countries. Its tourism minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said:

    'Indonesia cannot claim ownership of the song. Rasa Sayang is a folk song for Nusantara (the Malay Archipelago), so Indonesia cannot claim that the song is theirs.'

    In fact, Indonesia's copyright council pointed out that Indonesia cannot sue Malaysia if nobody knows who wrote the song."

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: I side with the Africans

    I agree fully, I think it is fine for her to copy a song and remix it. Having listened to both, I actually enjoy both, albeit for different reasons. What I don't like is it seems like there was an intentional hiding of where something came from and there definitely wasn't an attempt to say that she remixed it until after she was caught, which can be an implied way of saying she did it herself.

     

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  15.  
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    Michael, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    Yes, once again, you argue against yourself. Seriously, aren't you embarrassed?

    Sony also argues that YouTube should be able to "figure out" which clips on their site are infringing. At the same time, they are (as you have argued) unable to determine if their own catalog infringes on someone else's copyright.

    If they did not intentionally try to slip the infringement past everyone, they must have infringed "accidentally". If they cannot get it right, how can they expect anyone else to?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re: I side with the Africans

    I think you may be talking about performing another person's song. Anyone can perform a song written by someone else, and you just have to pay the songwriter. However, you can't record another person's song without getting their permission.

     

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  17.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: I side with the Africans

    However, you can't record another person's song without getting their permission.

    Oh, yes you can. Once the songwriter has recorded it (or possibly even just performed it in public -- I'd have to check), it is available for anyone to record as long as you pay the proper mechanical royalties. That's what the Harry Fox agency does.

    I'll find the proper citations for you, but anyone who wants to cover a song by another songwriter doesn't talk to the songwriter or publisher personally. You just contact the Harry Fox agency, get the paperwork and pay the money.

     

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  18.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: I side with the Africans

    Here is one such reference. Now I didn't bother to read closely to see if these African songs were previously recorded or whether they were distributed in the US, but I would imagine there are similar rules elsewhere. Usually you can cover someone else's song without permission as long as you pay the proper fees.

    Mechanical Licenses: "However, the Act provides that once a copyright owner has recorded and distributed such a work to the U.S. public or permitted another to do so, a compulsory mechanical license is available to anyone else who wants to record and distribute the work in the U.S. upon the payment of license fees at the statutory 'compulsory' rate as set forth in Section 115 of the Act."

     

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  19.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: I side with the Africans

    Here's another citation.

    The Straight Dope: Must you get permission to record someone else's song?: "Surprisingly enough, if somebody is determined to do a cover version of your song, it is well-nigh impossible for you, Joe Composer, to stop them. In general, the right to record somebody else's song is called a 'mechanical license,' and usually it's negotiated in a routine manner between representatives of the copyright holder and the would-be cover artiste. (Outfits like The Harry Fox Agency in New York generally handle the publisher's side.) However, in the rare event that negotiations fail, the copyright laws contain provisions for a type of mechanical license called a 'compulsory license,' which, in effect, give anyone the right to record any song he or she wants to, as long as notice is given to the song's copyright owners within 30 days after the recording is made and before it is distributed. Compulsory licenses were written into the copyright laws in 1909 in an attempt to break up a monopoly in the piano-roll industry--an industry which has since been pretty well broken up, period."

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Re:

    first off, where did the song on YouTube come from? was it from a writer, producer, whatever who submitted the song and had copyright permission to upload? did the uploader claim to write it all themself? was it written by someone else and permission for upload given? did a third party attempt to pass it off as original and give permission for upload? who wrote the song?

    it is very typical, just like all your slams earlier on. you try to make it as if YouTube, Rapidshare, the torrent trackers are the borg, with one collective mind, knowledgeable of everything. they are not. they cannot climb into the minds of individual uploaders to see if everything they do is 100% their own. there is no way. essentially, YouTube, Rapidshsare and the torrent trackers may be victims of fraud.

    sorry, but your logical arguments about the situation is laughable, where there is so much you are leaving out.

     

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  21.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Awesome response. +1

     

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  22.  
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    Karl (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    Re: In reference to IP laws and cultural theft

    Interesting, but perhaps not so relevant to this particular discussion (Shakira wasn't performing a folk song, she was performing a song written by a specific, living person).

    But in my opinion, Indonesia's argument seems full of hooey. Folk songs should belong to the people, not to a particular government. If someone in France wants to record a traditional Irish jig (which is in the public domain), they should be able to do so without the Irish government's blessing.

     

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  23.  
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    Karl (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: I side with the Africans

    Suzanne is right. You don't need permission, you just need to pay the songwriter (or publisher) a compulsory licensing fee for a mechanical license.

    If you pay the fee, then you can legally cover the song, even against the songwriter's will.

    In the United States, anyway. (Probably the U.K. as well.) Europe has a "moral rights" view of copyright, so it might be different there, I'm not sure.

     

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  24.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: In reference to IP laws and cultural theft

    Interesting, but perhaps not so relevant to this particular discussion (Shakira wasn't performing a folk song, she was performing a song written by a specific, living person).

    No, not the same situations. I just wanted to mention that sometimes people contest the use of a song even though it is in the public domain.

    However, as I have said, I think if a song originally came from someone else, credit is due. It's true that sometimes people don't realize they are using a song very similar to something already out there. If they discover this to be the case after the fact, and there are remarkable similarities, then acknowledge that and pay the person who wrote it the necessary royalties.

    You can record other people's songs. You just can't claim that you wrote them if they wrote them first.

     

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  25.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: In reference to IP laws and cultural theft


    You can record other people's songs. You just can't claim that you wrote them if they wrote them first.


    Yes, plus if you claim copyright when in fact the material is not yours (whether public domain or the work of a recent author) then that is also against the law.

     

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  26.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 3:45pm

    Re:

    first off, where did the song come from? was it from a writer, producer, whatever who submitted the song for shakira to record? did she claim to write it all herself? was it written by someone else? did a third party attempt to pass it off as original? who wrote the song?

    All of those questions are answered in the link.

    You do read before you attack, don't you?

    it is very typical, just like the slam at viacom earlier on. you try to make it as if these big companies are the borg, with one collective mind, knowledgeable of everything. they are not. they cannot climb into the minds of individual song writers to see if everything they do is 100% their own. there is no way. essentially, shakira and sony may be victims of fraud.


    I did no such thing.

     

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  27.  
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    RD, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    Re: your TAMhole is showing again

    "it is very typical, just like the slam at viacom earlier on. you try to make it as if these big companies are the borg, with one collective mind, knowledgeable of everything. they are not. they cannot climb into the minds of individual song writers to see if everything they do is 100% their own. there is no way. essentially, shakira and sony may be victims of fraud. "

    And yet, you expect YouTube to be able to "know" what videos on its site are Viacom owned. You forgive your Big Media Corporation assmasters for any violation (how can they know! they cant know everything!) and yet on the other hand, expect YouTube to know (they should know! they should preemptively do something!) when Viacom THEMSLVES (by your own definition) CANT know.

    So, you are a hypocrite.

     

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  28.  
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    Karl (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: In reference to IP laws and cultural theft

    Not only is this unlawful, it is actually criminal, under Title 17, §506 (c).

    I don't know the law about attribution, however. You can't claim you wrote the song, but it might be enough to put "copyright 1969 Sony/EMI" if you cover a Beatles tune, since they're the ones that hold the publishing rights.

    I mean, I've never heard of anyone doing this, since people who cover others' works want to give credit to the songwriters. But it's an interesting question, I think.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 6:05pm

    "the new song by Columbian pop star..."

    I know there's a Col[u]mbia in the US, but ethnocentrism aside, the name of country is actually Col[o]mbia.

     

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  30.  
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    Media Mafiaa, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 6:34pm

    Do as I say - not as I do

     

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  31.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 8:00pm

    woudl be a 20000$ fine regardless of settlement in canada, PER infringement

    20K per each infringement
    ....adds up and i have to say .....OUCH would be a word

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2010 @ 10:20pm

    Re:

    sorry, but your trolling is just bad, not even laughable, where there is so much you could do to at least be entertaining...

    the one thing that impresses me is the fact that you can type even though your head is so far up your ass only your fingertips are visible at this point.

     

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  33.  
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    AC & Your Sunshine's Banned, Jun 15th, 2010 @ 12:33am

    Re: Re: Re: In reference to IP laws and cultural theft

    A similar (but different!) "cultural song theft" situation happened with the African folk song that was eventually turned into "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" which was a worldwide hit song years ago. That case is interesting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_Sleeps_Tonight

    The original song (that was derived from a traditional tune) was composed in 1939 but the proper attribution and composer's credits were only legally straightened out in 2006, and only because the song was used in "The Lion King" and probably only because Disney has deep pockets and was/is a very *large* target.

     

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    Niall (profile), Jun 15th, 2010 @ 4:42am

    Re: woudl be a 20000$ fine regardless of settlement in canada, PER infringement

    Yes, this would be a typical case for willful damages if the situation were in reverse. And don't forget the public performance licence! Playing it at the World Cup to up to 1 billion people means.... $$$... :)

     

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  35.  
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    Mike Rice (profile), Jun 15th, 2010 @ 5:34am

    Hips

    They don't lie.

     

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  36.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 15th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    Hold the phone...

    I'm looking back at Shakira and I'm finding two articles that say this may have been meant more as a tribute:

    here Quote: The original MySpace starlet Lily Allen threatened to quit the business last year when a barrage of abuse came her way after her very public scolding of illegal downloaders. The Featured Artists’ Coalition criticised Allen’s draconian views, and the Columbian star Shakira made a point of publicly denouncing the singer.

    and here:

    Quote -
    "Shakira said: 'I like what's going on because I feel closer to the fans and the people who appreciate the music."

    Perhaps we are looking at this in the wrong light.

     

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  37.  
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    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 7:13pm

    Perhaps you're right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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