Lamar Smith Looking To Sneak Through SOPA In Bits & Pieces, Starting With Expanding Hollywood's Global Police Force

from the learned-anything? dept

While it didn’t get nearly as much attention as other parts of SOPA, one section in the bill that greatly concerned us was the massive expansion of the diplomatic corp.’s “IP attaches.” If you’re unfamiliar with the program, basically IP attaches are “diplomats” (and I use the term loosely) who go around the globe pushing a copyright maximalist position on pretty much every other country. Their role is not to support more effective or more reasonable IP policy. It is solely to increase expansion, and basically act as Hollywood’s personal thugs pressuring other countries to do the will of the major studios and labels. The role is literally defined as pushing for “aggressive support for enforcement action” throughout the world. A few years ago, we detailed how, at a meeting of these attaches, they bitched and complained about how copyright “activists” were making their lives difficult and were a “threat” who needed to be dealt with.

In other words, these people are not neutral. They do not have the best interests of the public or the country in mind. Their job is solely to push the copyright maximalist views of the legacy entertainment industry around the globe, and position it as the will of the US government.

It was good that this was defeated as a part of SOPA… but now comes the news that Lamar Smith is introducing a new bill that not only brings back this part, but appears to expand it and make it an even bigger deal. Politico has a short blurb:

SMITH, OTHERS UNVEIL IP BILL — House Judiciary Committee chief Lamar Smith and other members are unveiling today their new Intellectual Property Attache Act, which realigns the Commerce Department a bit. The measure as proposed would move the current attache program housed with the USPTO to the full agency, complete with an assistant secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. The proposal is slated for full committee markup on Tuesday. Named as supporters on the measure are a number of panel Dems and Republicans: Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Mel Watt, Darrell Issa, Howard Berman, Howard Coble, Steve Chabot, Jason Chaffetz and Adam Schiff

You can see the current draft of the bill (pdf and embedded below), but it has not yet been officially introduced. However, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to mark it up in the morning, suggesting that it’s on the fast track, with almost no public scrutiny. In fact, I’ve heard from people worried about this bill that they were only told of its existence on Saturday.

The specifics of the bill appear to go further than the version in SOPA. It is clear that the bill itself is framed from the maximalist perspective. There is nothing about the rights of the public, or of other countries to design their own IP regimes. It notes that the role of the attaches is:

to advance the intellectual property rights of United States persons and their licensees;

The bill also “elevates” the IP attaches out of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and sets them up as their own agency, including a new role: the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. Yes, we’ll get another IP Czar, this time focused in the Commerce Department.

When even the USTR is recognizing the importance of limitations and exceptions to copyright, to have Congress push a bill that basically ignores limitations and exceptions and only looks to expand Hollywood’s special thugs within the diplomatic corp. seems like a huge problem.

But the even bigger issue is a simple one of process. Shouldn’t Lamar Smith have learned by now that you don’t try to sneak through SOPA or any of its components without first getting widespread public opinion on these things?

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Comments on “Lamar Smith Looking To Sneak Through SOPA In Bits & Pieces, Starting With Expanding Hollywood's Global Police Force”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

eventually people are going to learn milk and cookies are not free no matter how much you want them to be…

learn your manners and ask permission, politely.

what I find fascinating about so many of these conversations is the proof that free works, because some artists chose to give their work away. OK, if there’s so much great content being given away for free, why do you care if other people want to charge for theirs?

Take what is given, do without what is not. Ultimately this is about enterprise level organized crime… and ultimately, no matter how much people liked gangsters, that story didn’t end to well for them either… or, the black hats in the wild west…

change, it’s the only think you can count on…

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

why do you care if other people want to charge for theirs

I have no problem with people charging for things. However, once I’ve purchased it, I should be able to do with it what I want. If I buy a hat, I should be able to copy it and give the original and/or copies away. If I buy a DVD, I should be able to copy it and give the original and/or copies away. Why do you expect me to respect your IP rights when you won’t even respect my physical property rights.

Ultimately this is about enterprise level organized crime

Too true. Corruption of politicians and bribery are enterprise level organized crime. Chris Dodd admitted to it, yet he’s not being charged, nor his cohorts, nor the politicians he’s bribing. That’s definitely enterprise level organized crime. Are you aware that you support criminals?

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I understand copyright all too well. Your copyright is a limitation on my physical property rights. How else can you have copyright unless you prevent me from making copies of things I own. Copyright isn’t possible without limiting the rights of others. Copyrights (and the same is true with patents and trademarks) are not brand new rights that governments found lying in a bin some where. IP is not something granted to you, it’s something taken away from everyone else. Every one can and has always been allowed to freely copy whatever they own and to hand out those copies in whatever way seemed best to them. Copyrights, patents and trademarks remove that right from everyone except the holder in order for the holder to have that right exclusively.

In order for me to respect your IP rights you have to necessarily disrespect my physical property rights. In fact, in order for me to respect your IP rights, I have to necessarily disrespect my physical property rights.

We can argue about whether or not that tradeoff is worth it, but whether it is or not is separate from the fact that that is the tradeoff.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

First, I’m not with Google. That their interests in some things happen to align with mine is a happy coincidence.

Second, lobbying is not the same as bribing and corruption.

Third, Chris Dodd has admitted to out and out bribery.

Fourth, even if lobbying were the same as bribery, you’re rebuttal would be merely admitting that you are scummy.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Google are criminals? Oh yes, the devil called Big Search from someone who doesn’t seem to understand what search engines do except that they don’t do what trichordist wants them to do which is rig the returns.

Still, when Big IP is blowing the bank of several small nations lobbying the US Congress and you want to be heard above the cash register rings then you gotta join them as does the rest of the tech industry.

If they’re criminals file a criminal complaint. You can do that you know. You’d be laughed out of court but there’s the teenie tiny chance they might get convicted in a private prosecution. Why not try it?

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Huh. I figured you might have retracted that ridiculous parody once you realized you were openly advocating against transparency in government, affordable internet access and user privacy rights — and calling all those concepts “absurdity”

But, no, I see you’re standing behind it. I said it before and I’ll say it again: interesting…

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

OK, if there’s so much great content being given away for free, why do you care if other people want to charge for theirs?

That’s the only bit of your comment worth responding to, so here goes.

I don’t care if you want to charge for content your created.

Things I do care about:
-I care about that content being locked up behind copyright for life+70 years, and preventing others from making use of it for going on a century.
-I care about fines and penalties for copying that content being thousands of times for severe than criminal acts which endanger public safety and people’s lives.
-I care about the corruption of public officials and a dying industry’s inordinate influence on legislation
-I care about our tax dollars being used to enforce said legislation in what is obviously a business model problem
-I care about our tax dollars being used to spread this pernicious view that ideas and culture can be owned to other countries’ laws

In short, I don’t care if you want to charge for your content – I care what happens when people refuse to buy it at your unrealistic prices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This article addresses this problem. It presents the results of a groundbreaking study of 31 CEOs, company founders, and vice-presidents from technology companies, the recording industry, and venture capital firms. Based on in-depth interviews, the article offers original insights on the relationship between copyright law and innovation. It also analyzes the behavior of the record labels when confronted with the digital music revolution. And it traces innovators? and investors? reactions to the district court?s injunction in the case involving peer-to-peer (p2p) service Napster.

The Napster ruling presents an ideal setting for a natural experiment. As the first decision to enjoin a p2p service, it presents a crucial data point from which we can trace effects on innovation and investment. This article concludes that the Napster decision reduced innovation and that it led to a venture capital ?wasteland.? The article also explains why the record labels reacted so sluggishly to the distribution of digital music. It points to retailers, lawyers, bonuses, and (consistent with the ?Innovator?s Dilemma?) an emphasis on the short term and preservation of existing business models.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Whenever I see these trolls, I almost think they are bots. They always post completely off topic things in the comments. Seriously, what does “milk and cookies are not free” have to do with the guy he is replying to, talking about Darrell Issa supporting this bill? And what does it have to do with this SOPA like bill being passed? Did he even mention it? Completely off topic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re right. There’s no free milk and cookies and the expectation of free milk and cookies along with a money printing license for life is really what these monopolists are about.

They will find to their detriment that there is no free for life milk and cookies for the anti-innovation monopolist thugs. They will find that the people while quiet in sleep are a hornet’s nest roused.

They best hope only finances are at stake. People are beginning to utter “treason”, “usurping democracy” and other such criminal words and phrases in increasing numbers.

Jess Lohse says:

Re: Re: #9

I see this comment as insightful and don’t know why it has been flagged by the community. Everyone has a right to their views and intelligent debate should be encouraged, not stifled. Sharing different views is a great way to find a better way. If you already know everything, maybe there isn’t much you actually have to contribute except to silence others.

On that note, I contacted my congressman and requested a transparent drafting process and also asked what is being done about the way big business, private, special interest groups are steamrolling the public interest in a wave of IP legislation & proposals. Something very simply needs to be done.

Seebs (user link) says:

Re: Re: Not the point

I have no problem with people charging whatever they want for their property.

I have a huge problem with them being able to destroy large swathes of stuff in their efforts to crack down on people who are allegedly ripping them off.

I am all for people getting paid for their work. I am not okay with the liberties of everyone else being collateral damage from efforts to eradicate unauthorized copying. It’s not cost-effective either economically or socially.

ak says:

Re: Re:

Issa already proved that he’s in the pocket of private industry. The Research Works Act was a bill pushed by Elsevier and other for-profit scientific publishers. After a huge outcry and boycott from scientists and journal editors, Elsevier retracted their support for the bill, and lo and behold, so did Issa and Maloney.

Issa is for sale, plain and simple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I doubt very much has happened since this was not one of the controversial parts of the other bill.

My only question here is the alignment of supervisory roles. The individuals named as attaches would not be under the direct line of supervision of the Director of the USPTO (or at least this was my quick read interpretation), and yet the bill places them under the Director’s supervision via what I term (as is done in industry) a “dotted line”.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I haven’t looked into this gerry mandering stuff too much, but is it that difficult to just say districts have to be square with a little bit of weirdness at the edges of states? And if GPS coordinates are too difficult couldn’t you just say districts have to be square but follow the nearest road whereever it cuts through property?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

c’mon, reject, you know better: the gerrymandering you and i learned about in 7th grade civics class as evil and anti-democratic, is now -you know- officially double-plus GOOD ! ! !
BOTH parties (different faces of the same korporate duopoly) are in favor of gerrymandering, ’cause it makes for ‘safe’ districts… THEY DON’T want ‘competition’, they want to divide the spoils amongst themselves…
guess what ? we’re the spoils…

just like, well, everything, it seems, kongresskritters simply legalize that which was illegal…

bribes ? ? ? no, you see, those are -you know- free speech units, not dollars to influence behavior… *snicker*

the system is broken and there are no courageous souls left to fight for us, only those looking to fleece us…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s easy to say it. You can say it all you like, you can even yell it out the window if you want to; the people who created those odd shapes on the map are the ones who would have to unmake them into a “square with a little bit of weirdness”… and then they’d promptly lose their jobs.

So… yeah, they ain’t gonna do it.

mudlock (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It actually is quite difficult. Variations in population density are your first hurdle. Then there are guidelines about majority-minority districts (which actually require some degree of gerrymandering) and then concerns about keeping communities together, which immediately leads to the question “how do you define community?” When drawing lines, is the road more important than the river or the ridge? If we go with roads, then will politicians start building roads to manipulate the district borders? Can’t we all just get along? (Politicians answer: NO!)

The best (human) results I’m aware of are from Canada, where committees made up of judges and appointed (by a non-partisan officer) community members draw the lines. They don’t really have a problem with gerrymandering. But Texas judges are elected, and tend to be partisans themselves, so good luck with that there.

You could try an algorithmic method.

Shortest splitline:

Shortest distance-to-center:

There are others. But they have detractors too (mostly because they still occasionally come up with horrendously inelegant districts; look at the splitline for Colorado, or the distance-to-center for Virginia (particularly the end of the DelMarVa peninsula.)

Or you can throw the whole idea out and use proportional representation But changing the electoral system is a whole other kettle of fish (and currently against Federal law for US House seats.)

To recap: No, there isn’t an easy answer.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 How Canada does it.

I am from Canada and you’re right in that a Committee headed by a respected jurist who is selected from a list submitted to the Speaker of the House Federally and in each province.

Actually it’s rubber stamped as the short list is selected by other judges.

The rules are fairly simple. The riding boundaries are drawn up strictly on the basis of representation by population. The idea is that each MP represents the the same number of people plus or minus a certain percentage. Municipal boundaries may be taken into account, natural boundaries such as rivers, straits, mountain ranges may vary the number of constituents. Remote area ridings may be adjusted in terms of size so the MP can properly service the constituents.

There was an idea of taking minority populations into account in the 1970s which was dropped when it was discovered that election by election the result of riding distribution based on overall rep-by-pop resulted in equal representation of such groups. As a result the system is colour blind.

Since the current system was adopted there have been no allegations of gerrymandering where before it was there were more than a few. It doesn’t mean people are always happy with the results of the changes though by and large most Canadians like it.

Parties may complain every now and then but they like it too as it’s predictable even if the riding boundaries are not and everyone knows how the system works. Parties move their supporters list from the old riding to the new one and just carry on. The result is that each MP has a similar workload.

A lovely side effect of this system is that when their constituents in neighbouring ridings are sharing the same issue it forces the MPs to work together even if they’re from other parties.

It’s a good system.

Jason (profile) says:

Perfect Obedience of the Law

I am so sick of the copyright maximalist and they quixotic dream of laws so immense and all encompassing that no one can ever abuse their valuable IP ever again.

If criminal activity in the IP arena is so horrible that corporations need what basically amounts to police powers to keep all of us in line, I think we must take even bolder actions.

Since the elimination of all criminal activity with respect to IP is desired, I must contend that we need to redouble our efforts in curbing criminal activity of all kinds.

To that end, I think the Movie and Music industries should be forbidden by congressional law from making any movie or musical recording that references, depicts, or glamorizes lawbreaking of any kind. The internet has encouraged enough lawbreaking, and we are on our way to eliminating that lawbreaking with this legislation. Think how much more criminal activity could be stopped if our entertainment didn’t present any scenarios that showed our children how to break the law, or glamorized those that do break the law.

The entertainment industry, with their extreme zeal for following the letter of the law, should be overjoyed to sign on to this and promote legal obedience for all of us buy only creating content that promotes subserviently following the law. Right, right?

Bribed politicians says:

Lamar Smith - on the take

I wonder how much in bribes people like Lamar Smith receive? The only reason I can see the USA government has become the puppet of Hollywood/recording industry is because they have been paid off. Otherwise, why would they be shoving bad legislation down voters throats? Congress should be investigating these bribes and the corrupt members within it.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Lamar Smith - on the take

i’d actually say that the riders and the party system are your two biggest issues.

the party system makes getting rid of those who take the bribes almost impossible (and it’s massively worse in countries where the concept of a party whip is an actual thing. … … though most of them, correspondingly, also have less of the bribery issue in the first place because you have to convince the party leadership (more than one person) in order to change Anyone’s vote. though a two party system is still a disaster. )

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Lamar Smith - on the take

They’re contributions, to be sure. But we could also be hopeful that all the IP industry money he’s taking is that he’s getting ready to retire and augmenting his pathetic congressional pension plan.

As for Issa, well, you can easily play both sides against the middle when it suits you.

I suspect that the diplomatic US IP cop will be about as welcome as the CIA types who are in embassies around the world. Maybe less.

America The Beautiful — Marked Down at WalMart!

Joe says:

Re: Re: Lamar Smith - on the take

No, that would be having your term limits expire, then going to work for the same company or organization you regulated or wrote laws for. Oh and if you play your cards right, you can go from Senate to a company to the head of one of the executive branch’s agencies all in one lifetime. Corruption all around!

Lobbying and career politicians are just the tip of the iceberg, here, I hate to have to say. 🙁

Dave (profile) says:

Re: Lamar Smith - on the take

Let’s step back a bit and look at a few things.

Federal Oath Of Office –

“The current oath was enacted in 1884:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Each and every one of our esteemed congresscritters, and the members of the Executive branch, are blatantly violating their oaths of office. In most cases, they are also violating the duties of their offices. They are sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution. Instead, they are attacking it at every turn.

They are sworn to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter”. Instead, they ignore or directly violate those duties with impunity. They seem to regard Federal service as license to print money, curry favor with the rich and powerful, and directly ignore the reason they were elected or appointed.

Somebody needs to grab them by the scruff of the neck and shake them up a little. Some prison time wouldn’t hurt.

I don’t know, yet, what to do about it. They’re pretty deeply entrenched. But there must be an answer somewhere.

ChronoFish (profile) says:

“…Lamar Seeligson Smith is the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 21st congressional district, serving since 1987. The district includes most of the wealthier sections of San Antonio and Austin, as well as nearly all of the Texas Hill Country….”

How does a Texan, Republican, career politician get so cozy with Hollywood. I thought they were the enemy?


[citation needed or GTFO] says:

Re: Lamar Smith: Enemy of the Internet still lives...

Because the “wealthier sections” of Texas don’t give a crap about netizen’s rights. They had their chance to get rid of him, but Hollywood keeps funding him, making it virtually impossible to take him down. The billboards did nothing. The commercials did nothing.

It would take nothing short of a PR screw-up to topple him. And if it’s something that Hollywood’s good at, it’s making any negative aspects take a backseat to what the Texas 21st district want to hear to keep him there.

Whoever is his PR manager must be laughing at the futile attempts to dethrone him…

Zos (profile) says:

lamar smith is a piece of crap. Every single time his name comes up, it’s attached to some abhorrent anti citizen piece of legislation, or eating the poor, or kiling a bill to end the drug war in committee.

He’s a meat puppet, being worked by the corporate fist shoved up his ass. I hope he reads this. So that even if he doesn’t believe it, he’ll know just for a moment what real people think of him and the way he’s sold out his constituents, and his oath.

Lamar Smith, you are whats wrong with america. I heard your mother seduces bears.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

With a line like this:

to advance the intellectual property rights of United States persons and their licensees;

Somehow I doubt it’s the first. It may simply mean that they’re to be pushing for enforcement of US copyright law, but given how nuts US law is compared to just about any other country, enforcing US law would almost certainly require pretty drastic changes to another country’s laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

so basically, Smith is doing in the USA what de Gucht is doing in the EU, trying to reintroduce the bits that have already been rejected from a particular bill/law by incorporating them into a different bill/law. why is this allowed? the only difference is the name of what it’s being made part of. the effect will be the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: About that headline...

Bawwwwk, bawwwwk…. the sky is falling. Look the bill has IP in the title, therefore it must be part of a larger MPAA scheme to dominate the world. As further evidence, the MPAA has obviously brainwashed anti-SOPA activists Issa, Chafetz and Schiff into co-sponsoring this bill. Dear God, will they stop at nothing?????? You are a total goofball Masnick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: About that headline...

Hey, hurricane head! Were you there cowering under Lowery’s desk because the big bad Europeans voted no for ACTA? Or how about the one where the judge ruled against Eminem’s label for refusing to pay his royalties? Why you no defend the labels, Mr. I-have-nothing-to-do-with-labels-but-will-fight-to-the-death-to-defend-them?

Have you reminded Phil to start marketing his spit as shoe polish? Must be working better than that recording studio he runs; if he’s running a recording studio I don’t think he’d have time to come here and complain!

Sad Mac says:


Spread the news to every news agency in the US that you can. Online, CNN, FOX, CBS, almost every piece of news you can spread to online, it’s time to stop this in its tracks. Just spread it and don’t keep this story exclusive because the more people that know about this in the US the better.

Mamameea (profile) says:


This just shows how much we are all hurting them that they cannot accept that they have lost and are openly calling for a force to put pressure on countries to expand copyright this is not only a bad move but a move that could backfire on them so much that they are actually in a position much worse than they are in now. Governments do not like being forced to do anyone’s bidding, yes they accept bribes/donations but that is under there conditions, to think that the Industry can just force governments to just roll over and allow one minor part of the entertainment industry to randomly sue there citizens is just not going to happen, if anything the blowback from the public could force governments in Europe and the rest of the world to demand that copyright is being used for terrorist activities and cancel all copyright laws until the public is involved in implementing something that works. If not i suspect those bowing down to the industry thieves will find themselves hounded out of power in most countries via boycotts and other nefarious activity.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Seriously...

Every time the public pushes back it is going to be harder for the IP maximalists to get anything done. Eventually politicians in the US are going to be voted out of office for their support or non support on these issues. You are already seeing this in the EU.

Just a thought, maybe we could get the tea party to take IP minimalism as a core value.

Jessie (profile) says:

My god, has Lamar Smith learned NOTHING from the last time when we kicked the butts of SOPA and PIPA, not to mention ACTA?

Apparently not! He’s got a bunch wad of money stuffed into his ears and thus, he doesn’t care abut the American people. He is pure scum and should be voted out of office NOW before this new bill called IPAA/Real original Lamar can get out of hand.

Call up your representatives, send in emails, send petitions, I don’t care. If it worked with SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA/I’m pretty sure that they did work, we should rise up and do it again.

Let’s vote Lamar Smith out of office while we’re at it as well.

ebilrawkscientist (profile) says:


I’m thinking it would be a really good idea for these so called “IP attaches.” to get straped into ‘splody vests and set free to wander the deserts of the world vanishing themselves; they are after all, the true clear and present danger “that needs to be dealt with.”

Like Agent Smith these copyright maximinalists anomalies like their Sith masters in hollywoodland need to back off and release the web from their oppresive regime. Thus allowing the glorious free internets to seek its own equilibrium and purpose in the world.

Dave says:

To serve?

I thought this person was supposed to serve the public – not Big Content. Does sound suspiciously like he’s in someone’s pocket, eh? Of course our fine, upstanding British politicians would never do that sort of thing. It’s just not cricket, chaps. Oh wait. A message is coming through. I see a tall dark stranger – stranger than most, it has to be said. Ah yes….a certain Mandelson is flying his true colours.

hmm (profile) says:

Re: To serve?

How DARE you suggest Mandelson was bought off?

thats disgraceful, because as anyone knows he STARTED corrupt before he even entered politics..his only political goal was to serve his hollywood masters…..and he blackmailed his way back into government multiple times.

Hell he’s been bitter and corrupt so long, his mother could have strapped a vinegar bottle to her chest and baby mandelson wouldn’t even have noticed.

Jason Andreas says:

why can't they stop?

I think people should be paid for what they do. Whatever it is they make whether that be movies, music, etc. But what i don’t agree with is the United States government using their power to oppose our laws on other countries. How exactly would any of you feel if China decided to pass a similar internet censorship/copy right protection law and you got extradited to China for uploading a Chinese game show clip to youtube and eventually get found guilty by a bunch of people from another country, not by a jury of your peers? This to me is going to accomplish nothing but more resentment and anger towards the United States. Copyright laws already exist, leave it the fuck alone….

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