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Thread: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Really?

    Why didn't the RIAA ever sue the creators of blank audio cassettes back in the 1980's?

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,319276,00.html

    You, too, could be sued for thousands of dollars by the major record companies even if you've never once illegally downloaded music.

    That's because at least one lawyer for the Recording Industry Association of America, the Big Four record companies' lobbying arm and primary legal weapon, considers the copying of songs from your own CDs to your own computer, for your own personal use, to be just as illegal as posting them online for all to share, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Arizona.

    Jeffrey Howell of Scottsdale stands accused of placing 54 music files in a specific "shared" directory on his personal computer that all users of KaZaA and other "peer-to-peer" software could access pretty standard grounds for an RIAA lawsuit.

    However, on page 15 of a supplemental brief responding to the judge's technical questions about the case, the RIAA's Phoenix lawyer, Ira M. Schwartz, states that the defendant is also liable simply for the act of creating "unauthorized copies" by ripping songs from CDs.

    Schwartz is a partner in DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, the family firm of former Sen. Dennis DeConcini, R-Ariz.

    "It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings on his computer," the brief states. "Virtually all of the sound recordings on Exhibit B are in the '.mp3' format. ... Defendant admitted that he converted these sound recordings from their original format to the .mp3 format for his and his wife's use. ... Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs' recording into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs."

    "I couldn't believe it when I read that," New York lawyer Ray Beckerman told the Washington Post. "The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation."

    In other words, according to Schwartz's logic, every single person who's ever "ripped" a CD for portable listening on an iPod or other MP3 player could be liable for astronomical damages.

    Apple itself estimated earlier this year that only 4 percent of music on iPods worldwide had been purchased through iTunes, implying that most of the rest had been ripped from CDs.

    In October, Jammie Thomas, a Minnesota single mother, was ordered to pay the record companies $220,000, or $9,250 for each of 24 songs a jury found she'd shared online.

    The RIAA's own Web site is more conciliatory, but implies that the organization reserves the right to go after music "rippers" should it change its mind.

    "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings ... you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages," it plainly states before adding that "transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player won't usually raise concerns so long as the copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own [or] the copy is just for your personal use."

    However, Schwartz isn't the only RIAA bigwig who's recently implied that those concerns may be raised more often.

    Copying a song you've paid for in CD form is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,'" Sony BMG top lawyer Jennifer Pariser testified during cross-examination in the Jammie Thomas case in early October.
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    What a load...

    Sometimes I can't believe the gall these companies have..then I come to my senses, and remember that I live in corporate America.
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan View Post
    Copying a song you've paid for in CD form is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,'" Sony BMG top lawyer Jennifer Pariser testified during cross-examination in the Jammie Thomas case in early October.
    The last gasp of an industry which has seen a future that doesn't include them.
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    The last gasp of an industry which has seen a future that doesn't include them.
    And especially ridiculous considering the RIAA's own website used to say that copying for personal use was legal. They've since changed the website.
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Go Piracy Go.
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    post hype sleeper cincinnati chili's Avatar
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Many people don't know it, but it is now and always has been illegal for you to take a textbook or novel that you own, stick it on a photocopier, and make a photocopy for personal use.

    "Copy" "right" means that the copyright holder exclusively has the right to make copies. The letter of the law is pretty rigid, unless there is a statutory exception.

    For example, years ago, Congress passed a law saying that you could make an analog copy of your CDs or phonograph records for personal use (an EXCEPTION to the rigid copyright laws). Consumers assume that the law also applies to digital-to-digital. Consumers are wrong.

    Politically speaking, I think it's stupid for minions of the RIAA to spout off with a hardline stance like this. The industry is very unpopular now, as most people think they're getting come-uppance for decades of corporate grade. It would be better for them to just shut up about this small change stuff and go after the people who induce the more serious infringement.

    But this guy's interpretation of the law is correct.
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by cincinnati chili View Post
    Many people don't know it, but it is now and always has been illegal for you to take a textbook or novel that you own, stick it on a photocopier, and make a photocopy for personal use.

    "Copy" "right" means that the copyright holder exclusively has the right to make copies. The letter of the law is pretty rigid, unless there is a statutory exception.

    For example, years ago, Congress passed a law saying that you could make an analog copy of your CDs or phonograph records for personal use (an EXCEPTION to the rigid copyright laws). Consumers assume that the law also applies to digital-to-digital. Consumers are wrong.

    Politically speaking, I think it's stupid for minions of the RIAA to spout off with a hardline stance like this. The industry is very unpopular now, as most people think they're getting come-uppance for decades of corporate grade. It would be better for them to just shut up about this small change stuff and go after the people who induce the more serious infringement.

    But this guy's interpretation of the law is correct.
    Actually, it sounds like his argument might be a little more nuanced than that.

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20071231/124515.shtml

    I haven't gone through the arguments, but this article indicates that he's actually arguing that it wasn't ripping the CD which they are considering to be the violation, but storing the ripped CD files in a shared folder that could be made available over the internet. Correct me if I'm wrong chili, because it's been a while since I've looked at the Copyright Act, the DMCA, and the Napster and Grokster cases, but if ripping CDs to your computer is considered illegal under the Copyright Act, doesn't that make Microsoft, Apple and other software manufacturers that allow you to rip music CDs and store them in .mp3 format violators of the DMCA? IIRC the Grokster case came out so foreboding for producers of file sharing software that most of them closed up shop just to avoid DMCA violations. Considering the primary uses of software like the iTunes software and Windows Media Player, why do they have the ability to rip CDs into .mp3 format?

    It seems to me that, other than that Sony lawyer who said ripping a CD is like "stealing one copy," they really aren't arguing that ripping a copyrighted CD is per se infringement. Rather it's what you do with the file after you rip it.

    On your other point, I think we're already seeing the backlash on the recording industry for going after individual consumers, as many artists are starting to venture out into releasing their music on their own over the internet and handling their own promotion. Really what purpose does a record company serve when technology is making distribution and promotion of artists' works relatively inexpensive?
    Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that he constantly plays, it says nothing to me about my life.

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    post hype sleeper cincinnati chili's Avatar
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    For the non-law students out there, this area of law is completely up in the air. Just over 20 years ago, VCRs were found to be "legal" by a thin 5-4 Supreme Court decision. Imagine the different entertainment world we'd live in without VCRs, Tivo, etc!

    The confusion about the "rules" of digital copying and "fair use" is understandable. Further, after this YouTube case reaches the Supreme Court in a few years (which I think it will because there are now way too many plaintiffs for it to settle), the rules may change yet again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    Actually, it sounds like his argument might be a little more nuanced than that.

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20071231/124515.shtml

    I haven't gone through the arguments, but this article indicates that he's actually arguing that it wasn't ripping the CD which they are considering to be the violation, but storing the ripped CD files in a shared folder that could be made available over the internet.
    That would contradict the foxnews article that was posted to start the thread. A quote from that article reads:

    Jeffrey Howell of Scottsdale stands accused of placing 54 music files in a specific "shared" directory on his personal computer that all users of KaZaA and other "peer-to-peer" software could access — pretty standard grounds for an RIAA lawsuit.

    However, on page 15 of a supplemental brief responding to the judge's technical questions about the case, the RIAA's Phoenix lawyer, Ira M. Schwartz, states that the defendant is also liable simply for the act of creating "unauthorized copies" — by ripping songs from CDs.


    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong chili, because it's been a while since I've looked at the Copyright Act, the DMCA, and the Napster and Grokster cases, but if ripping CDs to your computer is considered illegal under the Copyright Act, doesn't that make Microsoft, Apple and other software manufacturers that allow you to rip music CDs and store them in .mp3 format violators of the DMCA? IIRC the Grokster case came out so foreboding for producers of file sharing software that most of them closed up shop just to avoid DMCA violations. Considering the primary uses of software like the iTunes software and Windows Media Player, why do they have the ability to rip CDs into .mp3 format?
    While the Grokster case was a 3-3-3 decision ("unanimous," but containing two disparate concurrences), the answer to your question is unclear. Souter's decision held Grokster (and several other file-sharing companies) liable on the common law theory of inducement. If you believe that the Souter reasoning is "good law," then you ask two questions:

    1. Do Macintosh, Dell, etc. "induce" infringement by putting "ripping" technology on their laptops and PCs?

    2. If so, do they "exercise a right to stop it?" (e.g. putting on filtering systems, copy protections etc., if such systems are feasible)

    Assuming Souter's Grokster test is legitimate, then I think you really have to look at how Macintosh and Dell advertise their products. Theoretically, if they were going on TV saying something like "buy a Dell, borrow your friends' CDs, rip them to your computer, NEVER BUY ANOTHER CD again," then I think they'd be in hot water. Otherwise, there's enough ambiguity in the law that they can argue the "substantial non-infringing use" defense from Sony v. Universal (the Sony Betamax case of the 1980s).

    Major retailers should also be careful how they advertise dual-use products (i.e. devices which could infringe, but also have substantial noninfringing uses). Even if Dell and Macintosh are advertising responsibly, the recording industry could sue Circuit City and Best Buy if they overtly "induce" infringement.

    [edit: as for Itunes software specifically - all music sold on Itunes is in a non mp3 format. It's apple's special format. The record companies have authorized apple to sell the music in that format only. Apple has since talked about licensing software to convert songs from the "apple" format to mp3 and the record companies are not happy at all. See also the recent lawsuit against XM radio. The record companies sold XM the rights to play their songs on xm channels. Everything was hunky dorey. Then XM started selling players that allowed the listeners to store/save (i.e. record) songs, and they go sued for doing so. The suit is pending]

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    It seems to me that, other than that Sony lawyer who said ripping a CD is like "stealing one copy," they really aren't arguing that ripping a copyrighted CD is per se infringement. Rather it's what you do with the file after you rip it.
    I agree. Most people in the recording industry - at least privately - take the more conciliatory view. This guy's belligerence is the exception at least over the last couple years.

    If I recall correctly, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in Grokster conceded that ripping was fair use during Supreme Court oral arguments (2005). That surprised some people in the blogosphere. It was sort of like Donald Fehr admitting that baseball needed tougher steroid testing. Everyone knows its true, but it would be a shock to hear it from him.
    Last edited by cincinnati chili; 01-03-2008 at 01:30 AM.
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by cincinnati chili View Post
    For the non-law students out there, this area of law is completely up in the air. Just over 20 years ago, VCRs were found to be "legal" by a thin 5-4 Supreme Court decision. Imagine the different entertainment world we'd live in without VCRs, Tivo, etc!

    The confusion about the "rules" of digital copying and "fair use" is understandable. Further, after this YouTube case reaches the Supreme Court in a few years (which I think it will because there are now way too many plaintiffs for it to settle), the rules may change yet again.


    That would contradict the foxnews article that was posted to start the thread. A quote from that article reads:

    Jeffrey Howell of Scottsdale stands accused of placing 54 music files in a specific "shared" directory on his personal computer that all users of KaZaA and other "peer-to-peer" software could access — pretty standard grounds for an RIAA lawsuit.

    However, on page 15 of a supplemental brief responding to the judge's technical questions about the case, the RIAA's Phoenix lawyer, Ira M. Schwartz, states that the defendant is also liable simply for the act of creating "unauthorized copies" — by ripping songs from CDs.




    While the Grokster case was a 3-3-3 decision ("unanimous," but containing two disparate concurrences), the answer to your question is unclear. Souter's decision held Grokster (and several other file-sharing companies) liable on the common law theory of inducement. If you believe that the Souter reasoning is "good law," then you ask two questions:

    1. Do Macintosh, Dell, etc. "induce" infringement by putting "ripping" technology on their laptops and PCs?

    2. If so, do they "exercise a right to stop it?" (e.g. putting on filtering systems, copy protections etc., if such systems are feasible)

    Assuming Souter's Grokster test is legitimate, then I think you really have to look at how Macintosh and Dell advertise their products. Theoretically, if they were going on TV saying something like "buy a Dell, borrow your friends' CDs, rip them to your computer, NEVER BUY ANOTHER CD again," then I think they'd be in hot water. Otherwise, there's enough ambiguity in the law that they can argue the "substantial non-infringing use" defense from Sony v. Universal (the Sony Betamax case of the 1980s).

    Major retailers should also be careful how they advertise dual-use products (i.e. devices which could infringe, but also have substantial noninfringing uses). Even if Dell and Macintosh are advertising responsibly, the recording industry could sue Circuit City and Best Buy if they overtly "induce" infringement.

    [edit: as for Itunes software specifically - all music sold on Itunes is in a non mp3 format. It's apple's special format. The record companies have authorized apple to sell the music in that format only. Apple has since talked about licensing software to convert songs from the "apple" format to mp3 and the record companies are not happy at all. See also the recent lawsuit against XM radio. The record companies sold XM the rights to play their songs on xm channels. Everything was hunky dorey. Then XM started selling players that allowed the listeners to store/save (i.e. record) songs, and they go sued for doing so. The suit is pending]



    I agree. Most people in the recording industry - at least privately - take the more conciliatory view. This guy's belligerence is the exception at least over the last couple years.

    If I recall correctly, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in Grokster conceded that ripping was fair use during Supreme Court oral arguments (2005). That surprised some people in the blogosphere. It was sort of like Donald Fehr admitting that baseball needed tougher steroid testing. Everyone knows its true, but it would be a shock to hear it from him.
    Actually, chili, with Apple and Microsoft, I was referring to specific software applications. The iTunes player not only allows me to purchase music from iTunes, it also allows me to rip CDs I already own into .mp3 format. I believe Windows Media Player does the same. They include instructions on how to do it and, while I can't think of an example off the top of my head, I seem to recall advertising about copying your music from your CD to your iPod or similar device. While there are non-infringing uses for such functionality, it is marketed and supplied to general consumers in a way that Microsoft and Apple are not only sure to know that consumers are using their software to rip copyrighted material from CDs, they're counting on it. It makes their product more attractive to those who want to put all their music on one device. Why else would they put that functionality in a music player instead of reserving it as a feature for professional recording software?
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    Actually, chili, with Apple and Microsoft, I was referring to specific software applications. The iTunes player not only allows me to purchase music from iTunes, it also allows me to rip CDs I already own into .mp3 format. I believe Windows Media Player does the same. They include instructions on how to do it and, while I can't think of an example off the top of my head, I seem to recall advertising about copying your music from your CD to your iPod or similar device. While there are non-infringing uses for such functionality, it is marketed and supplied to general consumers in a way that Microsoft and Apple are not only sure to know that consumers are using their software to rip copyrighted material from CDs, they're counting on it. It makes their product more attractive to those who want to put all their music on one device. Why else would they put that functionality in a music player instead of reserving it as a feature for professional recording software?
    Itunes cannot make mp3s. Unless something's changed drastically in the last couple months, the music that you rip from a CD into Itunes is converted to a format called .m4p or something like that. Yes, you can rip your CD to Itunes for personal use, but if you try emailing it to a friend, it won't work.

    I've also noticed that I can buy music from certain non-itunes companies, and Itunes won't play it (protected .wma files, etc).

    I realize that some music companies have not been so careful.

    Steve Jobs, understandably, would like to sell .mp3s on Itunes. But he knows that the RIAA would sue his balls off (see below).

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6337275.stm

    Steve Jobs makes online copyright appeal
    Steve Jobs, the boss of Apple, has urged the world's largest record companies to begin selling songs online without copy protection software.
    He said the abolition of copy protection software known as digital rights management (DRM) would be good for consumers and music suppliers.

    Copyright protection had failed to tackle piracy, he argued.

    The firm behind the iPod has been under pressure to make its iTunes music store compatible with other music players.


    It is clear that the record industry has some responsibility, but that does not relieve Apple of responsibility
    Torgeir Waterhouse, senior adviser to Norway's Consumer Council


    Consumer rights groups in several European countries have lodged complaints with the firm over the incompatibility of iTunes with other music players.

    "We welcome Apple taking this problem seriously, and addressing it at such a high level," said Torgeir Waterhouse, senior adviser to Norway's Consumer Council.

    'Best alternative'

    The abolition of DRM would enable all MP3 users to access music from any online music store, including iTunes, Mr Jobs said.

    "This is clearly the best alternative for consumers and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat," he said in a statement on Apple's website.

    Analysts said such a move would benefit Apple as the market leader in the digital music marketplace.

    Apple's iTunes store has sold about 2 billion songs since launching in 2003, and accounts for more than 70% of the US digital music market.

    Shared responsibility

    Mr Jobs said that if DRM safeguards were dropped, Apple would be in a position to create a download system that could work with devices other than iPods, including Microsoft's recently launched Zune music player.


    I think Steve is finally saying something he has wanted to say for a long time - he is not saying this just to grandstand, he really thinks this could open up the market
    James McQuivey, Forrester Research analyst


    He called on the world's four biggest music labels - Universal Music, EMI, Sony BMG Music and Warner Music - to begin selling their music catalogues without DRM restrictions.

    But Norway's Consumer Council said the issues at stake here go beyond those Mr Jobs have chosen to highlight.

    "It is clear that the record industry has some responsibility, but that does not relieve Apple of responsibility," said Mr Waterhouse.

    EMI said it was considering Mr Jobs' views, while a spokesman for Universal Music declined to comment.

    Music download site Emusic, which sells DRM-free songs in the universally compatible MP3 format, backed Mr Jobs' call for the major labels to drop their restrictions.

    "DRM only serves to restrict consumer choice, prevents a larger digital music market from emerging and often makes consumers unwitting accomplices to the ambitions of technology companies," said Emusic boss David Pakman.

    "Consumers prefer a world where the media they purchase is playable on any device, regardless of its manufacturer, and not burdened by arbitrary usage restrictions."

    Responding to Mr Jobs' comments, Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said: "I think Steve is finally saying something he has wanted to say for a long time.

    "He is not saying this just to grandstand. He really thinks this could open up the market."
    ". . . acquiring J. Blanton from Oakland for, apparently, Bailey/Cueto, Votto and a lesser prospect. I do it in a second . . . The Reds' equation this year is simple: Make Matt Belisle your #3 starter . . . trade for Blanton, win 85 or more, be in the mix all summer." - Paul Daugherty, Feb. 8, 2008

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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    How does this apply to trader-friendly artists whose shows are distributed with bittorrent. like bt.etree or dimeadozen? Alot of these are soundboard recordings that the artist is ok with, even though they are signed to a label.
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by 919191 View Post
    How does this apply to trader-friendly artists whose shows are distributed with bittorrent. like bt.etree or dimeadozen? Alot of these are soundboard recordings that the artist is ok with, even though they are signed to a label.
    For those who plugged directly into board, then federal "copyright" law doesn't apply. You're not copying anything, you're making the first recording. However, some states have bootlegging/wiretapping laws. In some other states, you may have adhesively promised not to tape the show as a condition for being at the show (see the back of your ticket).

    For those who get the recording off bittorent, they can't be liable for infringement if no copyright was infringed in the first place. The only way I can see you getting in trouble with the label would be if the recording label created the tangible work from the soundboard mix (Atlantic records recording the soundboard mix in hope of creating a live albume) and then somebody pirated a copy somehow and started distributing it.

    Some artists over the years, like Phish, have had enough juice with their recording labels to force the labels to promise not to hinder their fans from taping their shows. Others don't have that leverage.
    ". . . acquiring J. Blanton from Oakland for, apparently, Bailey/Cueto, Votto and a lesser prospect. I do it in a second . . . The Reds' equation this year is simple: Make Matt Belisle your #3 starter . . . trade for Blanton, win 85 or more, be in the mix all summer." - Paul Daugherty, Feb. 8, 2008

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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    What about if it's the other way around? If I buy a song on i-Tunes and then burn it to a CD, is that illegal, too?
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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Just applying logic to this situation, if I buy a CD, I have purchased the right to use if for my personal use in whatever way I please, which includes manipulating the data so that it can be used with a different medium, which is all ripping music off my CD to my personal computer does. It really doesn't matter if I don't have the CD in the player.

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    Re: Ripping CDs to your own computer for your own personal use: Illegal!

    Quote Originally Posted by cincinnati chili View Post
    Itunes cannot make mp3s. Unless something's changed drastically in the last couple months, the music that you rip from a CD into Itunes is converted to a format called .m4p or something like that. Yes, you can rip your CD to Itunes for personal use, but if you try emailing it to a friend, it won't work.
    I'm looking at my itunes right now. Under the "importing" tab it says "import using MP3 encoder" and under the "burning" tab for disk format it says "MP3 format".

    I just imported a song from a CD as an Mp3 and when I looked at the file extension via windows explorer, the extension was MP3.

    You are correct that if you just hit "import CD" that it will import as MPEG 4, but you can convert a store bought CD into a straight MP3 by changing a couple of settings. Now, maybe you are refering to some other process but on the surface it looks like you can do it.
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