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  • Sep 2nd, 2021 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Nope

    That's a very good point you've made, Sumgai. I haven't time to do the research right now, but is there anything in Texas law to stop FB, et al, from simply applying an increasingly-chunky rental fee to users it deems undesirable?

    Even arguing against something like that would seem tricky for the supposedly pro-business Republicans. I mean, the government forcibly setting rates for non-essential private businesses to charge their customers? Their speechwriters would be dying from aneurysms in droves.

    I could well be wrong, but it sounds an awful lot like an excellent plan to me. >:D

  • Aug 4th, 2021 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Is it Sony's right?

    I doubt it's the controllers themselves, so much as the use of trademarks to promote essentially unrelated goods and services. Sony's always been very big on getting hefty licensing fees from anyone doing anything other than the most straightforward retailing of Sony products -- it's a major part of how and why the UK's independent PS1 game-rental and grey-import markets were all but completely shut down, back in the day.

    Without knowing more about Australian law, I can hardly guarantee it, but if it's anything like UK law, the courts would most likely side heavily with Sony. I don't think that Sony should have quite so much power, but under Aussie law, I suspect it probably does.

    I must admit, I'm tempted to side with Sony, as well. If anyone in the world should have the lawyers to know about licensing rights and can afford to pay an exorbitant license fee, it's McDonald's. Their not doing so seems like rude, unprofessional hypocrisy at best and a deliberate attempt to evade their legal obligations at worst.

    They should have known better.

  • Jun 7th, 2021 @ 9:48pm

    (untitled comment)

    Well, there's a thing. For those unaware of the background, Mr Masnick's article -- while perfectly sound in itself -- leaves out some details that I suspect most of us might find at least a little bit relevant.

    Nigeria had a police unit called SARS -- the Special Anti-Robbery Squad -- which was notable for it's high levels of corruption, theft, violence, rape and murder, far more so than even the worst police departments in the USA. The #EndSARS movement -- very much the Nigerian equivalent of BLM -- protested strongly against the unit, which was finally disbanded by the government late last year, following the Lekki Gate Massacre.

    #EndSARS was largely organised on Twitter and had the public endorsement of much of the internet -- including Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey, who provided a unique Twitter emoji for the campaign, as well as promoting donations to the movement via BitCoin.

    This, more than anything else, is what lined up Twitter and the open internet for a kicking by the Nigerian government. While there's little doubt that a general crackdown was going to happen sooner or later, getting directly involved with Nigerian politics more or less instantly guaranteed that Twitter would be the very first head on the chopping block -- and so it is proven.

    I've no doubt that Twitter's involvement was very much the right thing to do. I've also no doubt that popping your naughty bits in a hyena's mouth, just before giving it's testicles a good, hard smack with a metal ruler, is something that's guaranteed to have some form of consequences.

    I've every salutation for Twitter, here -- and every condemnation for the government that's used this as an excuse for censoring it's citizens. For the Nigerian people who must now live with the outcome, all I can offer is my sympathy.

  • May 17th, 2021 @ 5:13pm

    (untitled comment)

    not knowingly take any action to censor, selectively suspend, or anonymous content or user ban a journalistic enterprise based on the content of its publication or broadcast.

    There are times when I am inclined to attempt to write posts that are intelligent and thoughtful.
    At other times, all I can say is "that's just fucking gibberish." So it is here.

  • May 17th, 2021 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re:

    ^ These two AC posts, right here. Pushing major sites out of the UK and into the EU would effectively make those sites subject to EU copyright law, but without the IP-promoting industries having to pay for the much more expensive and difficult lobbying effort to get the UK's copyright laws changed.

    Laws like this always have big financial backers, quietly doling out money and favours to the great and good behind closed doors. I wonder who paid for this law?

  • Apr 27th, 2021 @ 2:22pm

    (untitled comment)

    A good article, but it would benefit from one correction: the NSPCC is not a part of the government, as the last paragraph suggests. It's actually an independent charity, albeit one with a fair bit of reach in the UK.

    It does have former civil servant Peter Wanless as it's CEO (and presumably other staff with ties to government), so it seems likely they're pushing the anti-encryption narrative on behalf of vested interests, but -- as far as I know -- there aren't any formal dependencies that would compel them to do so. The NSPCC is just as likely to be adding it's voice on behalf of a high-paying donor, as anything else.

    The NSPCC is (or should be) entirely free to speak as they wish, on this and any other subject. Unfortunately, while they've a long history of helping children to escape abuse -- and helping the guilty to find justice -- they also have a history of peddling nonsense, like the satanic ritual abuse scare that did the rounds some time back.

    That the NSPCC have chosen to push the side of the latest fraudulent moral panic, rather than seek out anything resembling the truth, is sadly no surprise.

    -

    About those vested interests... this is somewhat speculative, but after reading this article, I can't help but think of Oracle and their insane quest to obliterate Google at all costs.

    There have been three massive lobbying and PR efforts directed against the internet in recent years -- to abolish US net neutrality, get rid of Section 230 protections and ban encryption. Each virulently anti-consumer campaign seems to have had a similarly-distinct flavour of disinformation and lying, pushed forward with a similar level of misguided complaints, often coming from wide-ranging parties I wouldn't normally expect to have an opinion at all.

    While there's little doubt that US telecoms were the biggest beneficiaries from the repeal of net neutrality, I can't help but wonder how much behind-the-scenes activity was actually quietly organised by Oracle, who openly supported the campaign.

    It's not impossible for these three campaigns to use common methods to achieve similarly-situated goals, by any means -- but the more I think about it, the more these campaigns seem more like the hand of just one player -- or at the very least, a singular architect.

    While each separate campaign serves the interests of any number of parties, there's only one obviously-interested player that seems motivated and well-resourced enough to involve itself in all three at the same time -- and they're also the only ones who seem like a good fit for the kinds of multinational lobbying subsidies that would be involved.

    I think the entire free world would benefit greatly from everyone taking a very, very close look at Oracle's business, round about now.

  • Apr 23rd, 2021 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Re: Do ZOMBIES count for diversity?

    Hi, there. :)

    I don't normally bother with troll comments, but, currently, this one is nearly at the end of the comment section, so I feel more comfortable offering an opinion without it derailing the genuine conversation for the article.

    Please, forgive me for answering your sensibly concise questions with such a lengthy response, but I think a comprehensive reply may be of some benefit, for those few readers who might be unwisely inclined to take the troll's claims at face value.

    The short answers to your questions are:

    1. Your observation is correct and the troll's talking nonsense;

    2. It's nonsense predicated on false, illogical assumptions and no-one should care about it, particularly;

    3. He's recycling a knackered trolling tactic that worked before, but is increasingly ignored by TD's commenters. He only cares if it successfully wastes people's time or sabotages an honest conversation.

    The longer response is that -- from what I can see -- the troll's comments are just trollish nonsense, making little sense when subjected to any kind of scrutiny.

    The first and most obvious contradiction is, for me, the fact that I make comments on another site in exactly the way the troll claims is proof of sockpuppetry here. I used to comment all the time on Torrentfreak, but I got sick of both the excessive trolling (at the time) and the continuing hassle of enabling Disqus' ludicrous number of scripts and wandered off elsewhere.

    I still pop up every now and then, but only when it's a topic of particular interest, where I think I might be able to add a comment of greater value or substance. Otherwise, there are large gaps, usually of several months or years in length. I'm reasonably confident I'm not a sockpuppet.

    That's also the most plausible explanation for the accused commenters' activity here: they've a particular interest in those particular topics. If the troll you replied to looks hard enough for coincidences -- and considers all such coincidences to be automatic proof of sockpuppetry -- then it's effectively impossible for him not to "prove" himself right, in short order.

    The probability that it actually is just a coincidence -- and that, given a large-enough dataset, unlikely coincidences must happen surprisingly often, usually unnoticed -- is something he can't consider without his entire thesis unravelling.

    Taking his claims seriously -- for argument's sake -- and looking closely at the accused accounts suggests they are more probably genuine than not: the language and communication styles used are not an easy fit for any of Techdirt's regular columnists, commenters or trolls. The most skilled writers around -- working in any medium -- usually have to fight to not sound like themselves (or another established identity that they're more used to) when they write. Even when they do it well, there are usually hints, here and there, that they're not writing in their 'natural' voice.

    This is especially the case when it's multiple comments on very similar topics. The very recognisable writing-styles exhibited over time by TD's very small number of regular trolls is proof enough of that. Even on a 'slow news day', writing sockpuppets as effectively as would be required here requires far more time and mental effort than would be justified by any conceivable benefits in this context.

    Also, the number of accounts he has asserted (on numerous threads) to be pro-TD sockpuppets is high to the point of absurdity. Given that some of them have extensive online presences, the amount of work needed to create so many distinct identities -- and have them comment -- seems to exceed anything a few working professionals could easily knock together on their lunch hour.

    You'd need people working on this for something close to a full time job. TD's trolls might be able to do it -- since quite a few of them seem like they might be unemployable -- and they certainly have more motive, by way of a false-flag setup, although their writing skills are rather limited for the task. A third-party lobbying firm or government propaganda outfit is also more plausible, although what their gain might be is unclear.

    Famously, the first rule of investigative journalism is 'follow the money'. Techdirt gains very little from adding minor fictional commenters, especially those that appear only rarely and largely tend to agree with TD's articles. The troll here has yet to articulate a credible theory as to why TD should even want to do so, much less expend so much time and effort on the job.

    They could be said to gain something from creating hostile trolls themselves, since such comments commonly increase engagement among genuine commenters responding to false claims -- although such false-flag activity seems somewhat unlikely, given how far it falls outside of normal modes of leftist operation and ethics -- not to mention the great reputational harm, should such deception come to light. The trollish far-right can easily survive such exposure. The left, not so much.

    The troll is just trolling. It's just coincidence. :)

  • Apr 22nd, 2021 @ 5:46pm

    (untitled comment)

    Beyond the technology angle, I didn't think too much about these cases, when TD reported on them previously. Looking again today, a few rather unpleasant thoughts on this spring definitely to mind.

    Now that I consider the matter, I can only presume these cases have drawn a measure of heightened scrutiny because of the deficiencies of the technology used. However, if they're this sloppy all the time -- and always grabbing faces that just happen to vaguely fit the crime -- how many other supposed criminals are still in jail, without such an obvious investigatory failing that would let them push back against similarly-false allegations?

    Following on from that -- and considering that both the suspects in these known cases are black -- I have to wonder just how many of the unknown number of falsely-accused suspects are also from ethnic backgrounds. It's hardly a revelation to say that the job of policing attracts all sorts of people, from the very best to the very worst -- including some of the most virulent racists in society.

    I don't know how to locate career histories for individual police officers, but if what they've done in these two cases is any indication, then they could well have made decades-long careers for themselves, just by mostly arresting and charging semi-random suspects, purely on the basis of their skin colour.

    I'd hope that Detroit PD would look very carefully at the history of these two officers and take the opportunity to get its house in order. Sadly, with American policing being what it is -- especially the world-infamous Detroit PD -- I doubt this will actually happen.

    Inferences and suppositions about two questionable officers can only be that -- but all signs suggest to me that there's far more here that's rotten than just the technology.

  • Mar 29th, 2021 @ 5:47pm

    Re:

    Thanks for the kind comments, all. :D

    You know, it's funny, but here I am, all just trying to be sensible, but not too cool and reasonably coherent and everything, yet somehow, one Sunday mention on TD and my brain goes all dribbly with happy-happy-joy-joy. I quite forgot how much fun my more everyday brain chemicals could be.

    It's really very nice to have validation, especially when you're stuck at home without the usual mental reinforcement provided by co-workers. Even without a pandemic, I can see why some people end up addicting themselves to Facebook and the like.

    It's been an edifying and enlightening experience. :)

  • Mar 28th, 2021 @ 7:26pm

    (untitled comment)

    I got an Ed's Insightful! Good lord! I'm quite amazed.
    Thank you very much, guys!
    :D:D:D

  • Mar 26th, 2021 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re:

    Hi, there. :)

    Here in the UK, bandwidth caps are theoretically still a thing on some services. At the moment, all the big providers have suspended their data caps because of the pandemic, but it's a fair guess that those caps will be back, as soon as the ISPs can get away with it.

    On higher tier fixed-line services, Unlimited data is available -- and since we have trading standards laws that are actually fit for purpose, Unlimited usually means unlimited, providing data usage isn't constantly running to appreciable fractions of a petabyte.

    Net neutrality isn't controversial for anyone here, mainly because we have something of a relatively competitive market and a much better communications regulator. Since our ISPs can't get away with as much bad behaviour as US ISPs anyway, there's far less incentive for them to attack the rules.

    Regarding my earlier post, now that I've looked for it, it turns out I'm actually referring to an Ars Technica article, not a TD one. My bad. Here's a choice quote (slightly edited for clarity):

    California's net neutrality law allows zero-rating when it's implemented in a neutral manner. Specifically, the law bans "zero-rating in exchange for consideration, monetary or otherwise, from a third party," and bans "zero-rating some Internet content, applications, services, or devices in a category of Internet content, applications, services, or devices, but not the entire category."

    The law further states that "[z]ero-rating Internet traffic in application-agnostic ways shall not be a violation... provided that no consideration, monetary or otherwise, is provided by any third party in exchange for the Internet service provider's decision whether to zero-rate traffic."

    AT&T could choose a category of content, such as streaming video, and exempt everything in that category from its data caps. AT&T wouldn't be able to charge other video providers for the zero-rating, but providing such a perk to customers could help AT&T earn more revenue by signing up new customers and retaining existing ones who care about the perk.

    T-Mobile used to do something similar when it zero-rated video and music applications without seeking payments from the video and music providers, albeit with some technical requirements that online services had to meet to qualify for the zero-rating.

    (Update: T-Mobile still offers the music and video zero-rating, and said that it does not violate the California law because it zero-rates the entire category and doesn't charge online service providers for the data cap exemptions.)"

    Link: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/03/att-lies-about-calif-net-neutrality-law-claiming-it-bans -free-data/

    If T-Mobile is already doing an identical thing for another class of service, without any apparent regulatory issues, AT&T has absolutely no excuse. It's entire claim is pure fraud.

  • Mar 26th, 2021 @ 6:09am

    (untitled comment)

    Additionally to what's mentioned in the article, the TD article from a few days back indicates that it's only if one service is prioritised over a competitor (for whatever reason) that the net neutrality rules come into play.

    This suggests to me that - surely? - there's nothing at all stopping ISPs from exempting all recognisable customer healthcare services, as a singular field, from those customer data caps.

    It's not like it would cost them a massive amount. If they honestly gave a damn about anyone but themselves, they'd do this without even having to be asked.

  • Mar 22nd, 2021 @ 12:47pm

    (untitled comment)

    While I think it very probable that there is a better standard for libel to be found than NY Times vs. Sullivan, I am also reasonably confident that Justice Thomas and Judge Silberman are, by far and away, the judges least likely to find it.

    Impartiality in forming legal doctrine surely requires one to at least manage some awareness that being anywhere to the left of far right extremism does not necessarily make a person into a raging communist. Based on their publicly-stated views, I highly doubt that either judge is capable of doing so.

  • Mar 16th, 2021 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

    A silent march in New York, 1917, demanding a ban on lynchings. I didn't know about that one.

    All the same, that one protest would undoubtedly still fall afoul of the 'no disruptions' clause: 10,000 people marching down the road can hardly avoid causing some kind of nuisance. Also, given that it was 104 years ago and didn't work even then, it's probably not likely to be the most helpful of models for future demonstrations.

    Still, it's interesting, so thank you for the link. :)

  • Mar 16th, 2021 @ 8:19am

    (untitled comment)

    Absolutely appalling. Is there even any such thing as a completely non-disruptive and virtually silent mass protest?

    While the text of the bill pays lip-service to the idea of a lawful protest, I can see no way in which this amendment can't effectively and easily be used to shut down almost any public protest of any kind. Moreover, it's so loosely worded, it would be at the whim of almost anyone in any position of authority, from the government right down to the most senior officer on duty, who need be no more than an ordinary beat constable.

    Whatever its supporters may claim, this is no mere revision or clarification of existing law, it's the government giving itself the optional right to a de facto ban on any and all public protests, in all but name -- and anyone found guilty under it would face anything up to the maximum sentence of either just under a year in prison or a £2,500 fine (a little over $3,473, at the time of writing).

    Something's badly wrong with Priti Patel, I think. She's extraordinarily right-wing, even by the standards of the Tory party -- and openly hostile to almost everybody, including (but not limited to) ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, ecology campaigners, lawyers and even women's rights protesters.

    If it weren't for her mixed-race background, I'd have no hesitation in labelling her a thinly-veiled white supremacist, on par with any of Donald Trump's worst employees.

    She's in the Conservative safe seat of Witham, so she's not likely to be voted out anytime soon. That's quite a shame, since -- with the exception of our useless buffoon of a Prime Minister -- I can think of no-one in government more thoroughly deserving of unemployment.

  • Mar 4th, 2021 @ 4:21am

    (untitled comment)

    Further to this, I've been looking at Frogwares' blog-post / open letter from August of last year, along with the various links they've given. Beyond the actions this article focuses on, which is bad enough behaviour in itself, it really does seem like Nacon has been conducting itself quite poorly.

    Aside from the alleged financial misconduct and other contractual breaches, it appears, amongst other things, as though Nacon wants to claim whole ownership of Frogwares' IP, but without having any actual legal right to do so.

    Frogwares has been very consistent and clear that Nacon is only the strictly-limited licensee for Sinking City, not the owner. Nacon has - or had - the rights to distribute the game on certain platforms, but apparently no right to claim it as their own work.

    For it's part, Nacon has been putting it's own copyright notices (in both it's current name and it's former name of Bigben Interactive) on various marketing materials, claiming IP ownership for themselves, while stripping out and relegating Frogwares' name and logo to the back covers, if they're even mentioned at all.

    It appears they've even gone as far as authorising a tabletop RPG based on the game, presumably taking licensing fees for it, without apparently having the slightest right to do so and with no mention of Frogwares in the copyright notice.

    One curious thing about this: as the Frogwares post points out, Nacon's official stock market prospectus has a list of four licensed action / adventure games, but describes Nacon working "[...] avec IP propriétaires", which - depending on the translation - might be interpreted as either working with IP rights-holders, or once again, claiming whole ownership.

    That list includes a Warhammer title. If Nacon's trying to imply - much less claim - actual ownership of a licensed Games Workshop property, then I can see their current difficulties suddenly becoming rather sharper, if GW's lawyers get wind of it.

    As Nacon's public reply points out, the French courts have sided with Nacon, thus far - apparently on the basis that the contract was improperly terminated by Frogwares.

    Nacon also says that one of the provisions of that contract allows them to use a third-party to adapt the game, if necessary - which is why they evidently feel they have the right to pirate the game and strip out the logos and other indicia of Frogwares and Gamesplanet.

    I'm of the view that - whether or not a given court agrees with Nacon's actions - this is an appalling way to behave: even actual, commercial videogame pirates don't generally go so far as to remove the developer's logo and claim ownership of the titles they're pirating.

    That a publicly-traded company like Nacon thinks it's appropriate or professional to do so utterly defies belief.

  • Mar 3rd, 2021 @ 9:04pm

    (untitled comment)

    Note: I don't speak French, so I'm only going by statements made by both sides and the various press reports. Perhaps a native French speaker might be able to dig out the original case records and see what's what, in more accurate detail than I can obtain.

    While I tend to agree that the publisher's probably far more in the wrong, here, things might be a little trickier than that in practise.

    This is a Ukrainian developer fighting a French publisher in a French court. From what's been reported, French courts have generally favoured their own nation's financial interests over and above what seems morally or even legally right, over the past few years - or so it seems to me. Frogwares may face an uphill battle, just from that factor alone.

    From what I gather, Nacon asserts - and so far, the French courts apparently agree - that they had a contractual right to publish the game. I have the impression that Frogwares may have had no legal right to pull the game from sale, without first getting some form of prior judgment authorising it. If pulling the title was wrong, I can envisage Nacon claiming that they've merely made whole their injury, when the matter eventually gets back to court.

    I can then see the average judge then preferring to write both sides' improprieties off as tit-for-tat vigilantism that should be ignored, rather than getting deep into the weeds of who did what to whom. After that, said judge would only have to look at contractual details, rather than go through reams of terrifying technical details presented by Frogwares. Most judges aren't renowned for their love of technology, after all, either in France or anywhere else.

    Who might win the case seems therefore to be very much an open question.

    All that said, I do get the impression that Nacon threw the first metaphorical punch, here. Reading between the lines of their statement on the cracked game's subsequently-pulled Steam page suggests to me that they did owe Frogwares royalties - they don't exactly deny it - but were sore about paying it, since the game hasn't made enough money.

    I get no sense that the publisher's in serious financial trouble, or anything - it just seems like they don't want to pay, until they've got more money to justify their alleged €10 million investment.

    Whether we start out rich or poor, desperate times do push many of us to desperate measures - and in my view, there are certainly some sins that deserve forgiveness, even in the corporate world.

    Merely being too damn greedy to pay your developers what you know you owe them really isn't one of them.

  • Feb 23rd, 2021 @ 9:01pm

    (untitled comment)

    From Mr Bode's article of November 2019:

    "The biggest complaint most developers have with Stadia is the fear is Google is just going to cancel it. Nobody ever says, 'Oh, it's not going to work.' or 'Streaming isn't the future.' Everyone accepts that streaming is pretty much inevitable. The biggest concern with Stadia is that it might not exist.["]

    [...] Maybe Google succeeds in the space, maybe it doesn't. Maybe Google sticks with the project, or maybe like Google Fiber Alphabet execs get cold feet and hang up on developers mid-stride in a year from now.

    One year and three months for their internal dev team, perhaps not too many more months for the rest of the venture. If anyone has any faith left in this project, I can only salute their optimism.

    Oh, well. At least it lasted longer than Quibi.

  • May 17th, 2020 @ 3:49am

    Re:

    Hello, Mr Stone. :)

    According to wiki, Mastodon's an open-source protocol, released under AGPLv3. Such licensing doesn't give Eugen Rochko the legal ability to order Gab to cease and desist. He has no power over them.

    By contrast, Disney's Club Penguin materials are proprietary. The clones make use of Disney's copyrights and trademarks, in a way that's very probably not supported by the fair use doctrine. Disney has the legal right to order the Club Penguin clones to stop. They'll almost certainly win, if it gets as far as a courtroom.

    While there isn't an exactly on-point case to guide, Disney having the exclusive right and ability to control the assets being used puts them very close to the established definition of vicarious liability. It's not far-fetched to imagine someone going into court with that. Cases have gone as far as discovery with far less. It might not ultimately prevail in the US courts, but it's a colourable theory.

    All it takes is one one case - one chancer looking for a payout, or one genuinely-aggrieved parent, or one special interest group looking to fight anti-Semitism, or one zealous prosecutor pushing a state cyber-bullying law - to convince a sympathetic judge and then it's into discovery, where Disney has to spend a small fortune fighting an ugly, expensive and entirely unnecessary case, over something that was never their fault to begin with.

    Even if the attackers don't win, it's still a bunch of resources to fight them off or settle the case. How much time, money and energy are Disney supposed to spend defending what is basically 4-chan with pirate copies of Disney's penguins?

    This is just the US example, by the way. There's any number of countries with more aggressive hate speech / child protection / anti-harassment laws, where Disney could potentially be held liable under any number of legal theories and doctrines.

  • May 16th, 2020 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Update added

    Hello, Cdaragorn. :)

    Not being a lawyer, I don't have an exact, on-point example to give. This wouldn't stop Disney getting into some trouble for not stopping a problem when they've the power to do so.

    Disney's a much, much bigger and wealthier target than other businesses that may have been in the same situation. It's also a worldwide business. America's AGs may be in Disney's pocket, but all those other countries...?

    People will sue over almost anything, if they think there's a nuisance-payout to be had. Can you honestly say you think that something like this wouldn't attract civil actions from anywhere and everywhere?

    Can you honestly say you think there aren't any European prosecutors who'd jump at the chance to have a go at Disney and its executives, for allowing the promotion of hate groups using their assets? Anti-semitism's apparently a thing on these clones, so how about the Israelis?

    Even if Disney got lucky and dodged every legal bullet heading towards them, it's a sure bet that it would be closely reported by the media. Would you want to be the Disney executive who had to go on TV and say "free speech is more important to us than our customers' children's safety"?

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