Major Sleaze Factor in Atari & Codemasters Anti-Piracy Campaign

Thursday’s newsletter from contains a terrific editorial on the controversial targeting of file sharers by five U.K. game publishers.

It’s a real eye-opener.

Although many gamers were incensed by the attack, goes beyond mere opinion and lays out some troubling facts behind the ham-fisted campaign being waged by Atari, Codemasters, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump and Techland:

None of the big publishers or platform holders have touched the action with a barge pole… A group of tier 2 and tier 3 companies… have hired a firm called Davenport Lyons to take action against private individuals for using file-sharing networks to distribute games. This, it appears, is a Davenport Lyons "speciality"…this is a company whose reputation is coloured by a history of threats against private individuals…


Davenport Lyons… appear to be using data from a company called Logistep… there have been serious concerns over the legality of Logistep’s methods in several European states. In… Switzerland, it stood accused of violating the law in its pursuit of pirates…  In France, a lawyer who was working with Logistep was recently banned from practising law for six months for almost exactly the same behaviour which Davenport Lyons has just demonstrated in the UK…


That seems to be why the shock-and-awe tactics of this mass mailing are being employed. £300 or thereabouts is a nice figure – enough to sting badly… but not enough for most people (innocent or guilty!) to be willing to go and hire a lawyer and fight the case…


In that case, "grubby" doesn’t begin to describe it – just as, when innocent people start receiving those letters and clamouring in large numbers to the media, as they inevitably will, "PR disaster" doesn’t begin to describe what will happen next. 


Fight piracy. Fight it with every weapon in the arsenal – but play fair. This kind of dirty, nasty and legally questionable action will do nothing other than bring the industry into disrepute…

GP: Bravo,!

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Anon posts GO!

    But long story short:
    You’re wrong and you’re getting caught in the hype. Piracy has been around since you could hit "REC" on a VCR and it will only become more elaborate and wide reaching in the future.

    Regardless of your personal stance on piracy do you honestly think the methods used to deter piracy are working? If they are not, why continue to use them? These recent cases of single moms being sued and whatnot sounds ridiculous to a avid pirate as myself. I’ve downloaded and uploaded countless terabytes in my life, I’m torrenting over a half a dozen files as we speak.

    How can you steal something that is infinite? It’s the basic opener in this kind of debate and one which no one here has addressed. Due compensation for IP and creation of products is the only reason I even purchase ANY digital media. There’s not a single movie or game I haven’t downloaded or illegally borrowed (yes, in many cases it is illegal to lend a game, movie or CD you’ve purchased).

    Piracy isn’t going anywhere, the methods to fight it don’t work and only serve to antagonize their legitimate consumer base, many of whom pirated the products before purchase.

    Common sense says "Pirate the hell out of the thing". Can’t beat common sense.

    Anon poster…AWAY!

  2. Anonymous says:

    People who steal games are assholes.  Period.  There’s no justification for it, and it works against the development of good or better games.  Publishers and developers deserve to make a profit.  If you don’t like the game, don’t buy it.  If you don’t think it’s worth full price, wait for the price to drop or buy it used.  If you want to try it before you buy it, rent it.

    There’s just no justification for sleaze bag lying cheating shit-eating pirates and the stealing of games.  And only a moron would think differently.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Major sleaze factor?  Are you kidding?  Pirates steal.  Period.  Is anyone really concerned about protecting the privacy of people who thieve?  It’s absolutely wrong what they’re doing and if they get found out, it’s just rewards.  The only reason NOT to pursue them in this way is the backlash from people who’d prefer not to get caught, and thus negative PR.  In other words, there’s no legitimate reason not to.

    Also, shame on GP for not being more clear about what exactly these questionable methods are on behalf of the solicitors.  There isn’t enough information here for anyone to be outraged over…

  4. Ace ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And what works in courts is what we’re going by now? 

    Our conception of theft comes from physical things being taken from us or made so we can’t use them. Theft of services would certainly apply to the creation of whatever digital product it is that’s being pirated. However, that does not change how casual media piracy really is. If I can record off the device that is showing the TV show or playing music I can pirate it. If I can access game files I can copy and distribute them.
    To fight piracy is inane and doomed to failure. You can’t stop it, ever.
    And that really is the bottom line.

    Stealing a game from a store =/= Torrenting same game

  5. Toastrider says:

    Nnf. This kind of intellectual sophistry might help you sleep at night, but it sure as hell doesn’t work in the courts. Plus, theft is more than just solid objects; there’s a concept called ‘theft of services’ which could apply here.

    I’m not a huge fan of piracy, but frankly the RIAA dug its own grave. They justified a brutal, excessive legal campaign with falling profit shares, despite (a) a mild recession in the economy, (b) a severe drought in the way of actual /talent/ in music, and (c) breaking their promise to consumers that ‘oh, CDs will drop in price as they become more common!’.

    It’d be a damn shame if the ESA followed them into that same grave.


    "Genevieve Aristide dug her own grave, and she’s going to have to make herself comfortable in it. Don’t be a f***ing lapdog and jump in after her." –Harlan Wade, FEAR

  6. Ace ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I find even using the word "theft" or saying that people are stealing anything should be analyzed.

    What we (pirates) are doing is taking a product that can be multiplied an infinite amount of times without losing its value and doing just that. I support piracy in that I participate, but also in that I believe this is the direction digital media is heading and there’s not a damn thing you, I or anyone else can do about it. I also believe that we must learn to work with a piracy "adled" media market, not try to fight it.

    Stealing a sandwhich is not the same as, say,  downloading and distributin a pirated copy of Call of Duty 4. If the game, tv show, movie, album or program is good and something I feel like using and supporting I’ll buy a legitimate copy. Why? Because I want the company or individuals that made it to get money so they can make more great products. Every single movie I own I’ve seen or had at some point in a pirated format. Same goes for almost all my PC games, with the exception of a few that are silly hard to crack and just not worth it (Anything running on Steam comes to mind, then again it being by Valve is enough guarantee of its quality for me).

    There’s a world of difference between taking something finite or unique without permission (like a sandwhich) and then taking digital media. The two acts are not the same except by that both are done without permission. The former is much much worse than the latter, the latter just makes sense.

  7. Shaoken says:

    Heavy-handed tactics like this are just going to give the Pirates more support. It doesn’t matter if the behavour is illegal and immoral, people will still support them because they view the other side as corrupt/money-grabbing/bullying etc. etc. The Video Game industry needs to understand why people download games and then work on correcting that. Making more Game Demos would be a positive step, and not making manuals a PDF would be a small step in the right direction.

    That said, they’ll never get rid of pirating completely, since there are people who can’t either legitametly buy the game, who are too cheap to get it or just like doing it because it’s illegal.

  8. Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    So 300 pounds is too little and 16 thousand pounds is too much according to GP this week.  Makes you wonder how much is the right amount or if the real claim here is that IP theft should be without punishment.

  9. HalfShadow says:

    In Canada, you can’t be held legally responsible for anything you download from a file-sharing program. It isn’t the downloader’s fault the file is there, it’s completely the fault of the file hoster.

  10. SomeoneElse says:

    I agree 100%

    I love Stardock (Impulse now) and Steam.  They offer me the games I want at reasonable prices and I can play with out the disk.  If you want me to go to a store and buy a boxed game, make sure there’s something in the box that really makes it worth while.  Bring back the days of maps, tech trees and beautiful manuals being in the box.

    Does anyone else remember Fallout?  I spent hours reading the manual because it was fun, well written and to be honest a work of art on it’s own.

  11. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    1. if someone lives in a middle of no where country and no place is selling it, and you cant buy it online…  I could care less if you download it for free myself
    2. I would say 40% of games have demos
    3. If I piss off a customer that much, then I am not doing my job right, therefore I dont deserve the money.
    4. I dont know which company you are talking about, but most of them charge you for all of that or tell you to buy a new copy and get over it.
    5. Again, #3.  I am not going to be a greedy asshole if customers seriously have that big of a problem with my games.  It means that I need to fix something, and not repeat it.

  12. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Then you also know as a developer that you make more money if they buy 1 game at full price instead of 2 games at half price.

  13. Woundwalker says:

    Nevermind, GP just hates Opera, posting in Firefox works fine.

    Anyway, I just opened up my copy of Sins of a Solar Empire, and it’s perfect example of how to beat pirates.

    Gorgeous Packaging

    Sheet of Keyboard Commands

    Big Thick Manual

    Poster-size Research trees.


    The pirates dont care about devs posturing and suing, they can protect themselves and it’s unlikely any onen person will be caught. Hurt them by giving legitimate buyers things a torrent file can’t reproduce.

  14. E. Zachary Knight says:

    You need to be using the standard editor not the plain text editor. If you are using the plain text editor, you need to wrap each paragraph with a <p></p> tags.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  15. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I will have to go with Eville and Drazgal on this one. Those are no reasons to pirate.

    Although, if there is abosolutely no demo available anywhere, I could justify a quick peek at the game from a download. Only if there is no demo available.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  16. Woundwalker says:

    How on Earth do I start a new line? I type out with paragraphs but my comment appears as a wall of text.

  17. Drazgal ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "5. it is worth only half of the money the game cost, and you just baught another game not long ago that was only worth half of the cost, so it equals out, or the game just sucks because it is way too short (20 minute long game) and isn’t worth $30 to you."

    I am also a developer and this point is in no way a justification. If you wait 6-12 months the game will be half price anyway or thrown into 2 for £15 offers etc. So if you want it cheaper, wait.

    Or if the game sucks, then why are you so desperate to get it to play it?

  18. Woundwalker says:

    Another reason to add to that would be that you bought a game and the copy protection is so crazily tight on it that it won’t let you play, even with the disc in the drive. That means you, Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty.

    It does encourage rather than discourage piracy as when that same developer/publisher brings out another game, you’ll be scared of ending up with another £20 coaster. Why take the risk?
    A legitimately bought game should provide better ease of use and far fewer problems than any pirate copy. Even taking the time to produce attractive packaging and a nice, deep manual/map instead of bunging it in a cheap DVD case with a .pdf manual file on disc can help loads.

    It’s like those unskippable minute-long warnings on DVDs. I just bought your DVD legitimately, why annoy ME with unskippable anti-piracy ads?

    Those responsible for either of those things ought to be tied to a tree and just left there, really.

  19. Eville1NSI ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    1.) Wrong. If you can’t otherwise obtain the game then you go without the game. See Food and Shelter. It’s just a game.

    2.) Demo the game. 99 percent of pc games have demos. This is just weaksauce excuses.

    3.)See #1 Don’t buy it. Justifying stealing by saying you’re "sticking it to the man." Is bullshit and a lame reason for saying you don’t want to pay for it. No publisher deserves to be ripped off. Are you going to pay the stock holders their money when they had no say in the decision making of the publisher? You’re hurting people who put money into something and didn’t have any say as to how it turned out.

    4.) Warranty. They will send you another cd with a upc or the install code. I’ve had that happen and was happy they overnighted me a disc. Another lame excuse.

    5.) See #1 and #2. Lame excuses. You buy something, you live with it.


  20. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There is justification for ‘stealing’ a game.  Either by the fact of:

    1. you can not otherwise obtain the game
    2. you want to test out the game to see if you like it but a buddy doesnt have it
    3. the cockmasters that make the game are care more about profit than making a good game and customers happy and deserve to be ripped off (like Extreme Aholes)
    4. your game isnt working that you did buy because the CD is busted and it is an easier way that doesnt require the CD
    5. it is worth only half of the money the game cost, and you just baught another game not long ago that was only worth half of the cost, so it equals out, or the game just sucks because it is way too short (20 minute long game) and isn’t worth $30 to you.

    As a game developer, these are all acceptable reasons in my opinion.  I have obtained games illegally before, then either they sucked so much I deleted it, or it was great and I bought the game because I wanted to make sure I could download it again if my computer got fried.  I have also downloaded games from online that I already have so I wouldnt need the CD because it was easier than deal with with trying to find a no CD crack, especially when I was playing a couple games within the same day and didn’t want to hurt the disc due to putting it in and taking it out of the drive.

    At the same time, if my game is over priced, then why should someone have to pay more than what it is worth to them?  Like Madden games, it is only a minor upgrade from the previous version, so why not just have proof of purchase and give them at least 25% off.

    I can see where someone can justify it, and as a developer, I am fine with that.  If my games are good enough, then they wont steal my games in the first place.

  21. Anonymous says:

    When you buy things you fund the investigators. These people deserve to be driven out of business.

  22. "1. if someone lives in a middle of no where country and no place is selling it, and you cant buy it online…  I could care less if you download it for free myself
    2. I would say 40% of games have demos
    3. If I piss off a customer that much, then I am not doing my job right, therefore I dont deserve the money.
    4. I dont know which company you are talking about, but most of them charge you for all of that or tell you to buy a new copy and get over it.
    5. Again, #3.  I am not going to be a greedy asshole if customers seriously have that big of a problem with my games.  It means that I need to fix something, and not repeat it."


    1.  Somehow I don’t think this is the case for many.  And it certainly isn’t for you.

    2.  Ridiculous.  A far greater percentage have demos.  And if it doesn’t have a demo, that doesn’t give you the right to steal it.  If you require a demo and one isn’t provided, then either take the risk or don’t play the game.  You don’t get to steal an Aston-Martin just because the dealer wouldn’t let you test drive one.

    3.  And you also don’t deserve to play the game.  Pirates need to get this through their heads:  The publishers don’t owe you a damn thing.  If you don’t like the company, then you don’t get to play their games for free or otherwise.  You are not sticking it to them by stealing their games, you are only justifying their current behaviour.  If you truly don’t respect them as a company, then you avoid them entirely.  Otherwise, you are just a thief.

    4.  Wrong.

    5.  See me #3.  They owe you nothing.  You want to play games, pay for them or find another hobby.

  23. You apparently don’t understand piracy laws. Reproducing a file that is copyright protected, either offering it up or obtaining it, is illegal and you can be prosecuted for either. Also, as a downloader (not just uploader), a torrent tracker shows your IP to other members of the swarm.

    Another anti-piracy tactic would be setting up a "honey pot", or basically potentially leaking a torrent out and busting those that download it. I don’t quite know the legality of this tactic, but it is something they could very well do.

    You shouldn’t be pirating games anyway, any of these "reasons" are just excuses. People being lazy and wanting a luxury without spending the money. Piracy hurts all companies in the industry, not just the ones that you’re stealing games from.

  24. odc04r says:

    It’s not really an invasion of privacy, by joining a .torrent swarm you are making your IP visible to everyone else in that swarm.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Its an upload they are after not a download… the act of publishing is what they are trying to hammer people for.  And since as an uploader you are freely providing your IP there is nothing illegal about them logging it.

  26. chadachada(123) says:

    So wait…I can download all I want from Limewire and not get caught? I just can’t UPLOAD any songs?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Well, the best way to continue is to point back to Stardock’s comments on said. Those kinds of people never were your customers in the first place. You’d never have gotten any real money out of them at all. They’d either have borrowed it from someone else or not bothered with it at all (assuming they couldn’t do the download).

    From what I’ve seen and read, people who download (books, CDs, Games, etc) fall into a small set of groups. You get those who download to try to see if it’s worth buying (if they like, they buy, if not, they don’t. These are also the people you don’t want to have them shell out 60 bucks just to hate the game. They’ll spread bad reviews like the plauge). You then get people who download and play, without buying. They aren’t your customers or target market. Screw em. The third categoty you’ll find are people who download because the game’s long dead and buried. There aren’t any other legal alternatives to getting the game for whatever reason.


  28. kielejocain ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    2 is the crux here; people act like they’re just going to try the game out (DURRRR), but you must actually turn around a BUY the game if you like it.  Many people don’t.  They ACT like they will, but they never do.

    As long as you’re actually turning around and buying the game, I think number two is defensible.  It is still illegal in the current system, but defensible.  To be honest, I used to do that with music at my undergrad university over the campus network.  But I always actually bought the CD’s, so no harm done.

  29. Anonymous says:

    There are two reasons that I pirate games, ones that I think make a decent amount of sense IMO. Note, I take the application of cracks to be something else (no CD checks, for example, but that’s another story)

    1) The game is no longer for sale/distributed. Anyone seen a copy of Mechwarrior 3 on store shelves recently? This is doubly true of my legit copy has suffered some mishap. Bout a year ago my copy of SE:IV somehow got some major scratches in it. Not usable. Try finding THAT game on the shelves. Or in used stores.

    2) I want to try out the game to see if it is worth me forking over a good chunk of change. A lot of demos end up being released as earlier versions, and may have crippling issues with them. Or, key parts of gameplay that make it fun/unique are not present. Or, there’s just no demo available. My consumer funds are limited, and I want to put them where I will get the most use. One generally dosen’t buy a couch with at least sitting on one of the same model after all.

    Where 2 is concerned, the game company has one of two possible outcomes: The game’s gimmicky and cheap, in which case I don’t buy it and then I delete the game (why clutter up my HD?) or it’s at least decent and I go and buy it.

  30. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The music industry dealt with it, and the game industry is going to have to learn to deal with it.  You can’t stop it, so either let it be, spend more money than it is worth to attack it, or make things so cheap that there is no reason for the consumer to even risk illegal downloads. (Especially with a country that has a failing economy at the moment.)

  31. Anonymous says:

    I suppose they make the pirating equivalent of Self-Defense.


    While murder is always a bad thing, if it’s Self-Defense, it’s justified.


    That’s just what I got anyway, I buy all my games.

  32. Malygris says:

    The fact that the industry is responding in a completely inappropriate manner to piracy doesn’t make file sharing any less greasy or inexcusable. I detest tactics like this, but people who trot out the tired old justifications of "trying before you buy" or "the game’s not worth what they’re charging" to rationalize behaviour that is illegal, immoral and damaging to the industry and other gamers make it very difficult for me to feel much sympathy when they get hammered with excessively punitive litigation.

  33. chadachada(123) says:

    We should be able to try things before we buy them. DURRRRR

    I’m a console gamer, and frankly, I hate it when new or upcoming games don’t have demos on XBL. Take Alone in the Dark for example. The game came out, but wasn’t at Blockbuster. There was no demo on XBL (there is now, go figure), so I pulled $60 from my bank and went out and bought it. It ended up being one of the worst pieces of crap I’ve ever spent money on. If I was a pc gamer, why would I be inclined to not download games that don’t have demos after just wasting $60 on a piece of crap?

  34. E. Zachary Knight says:

    You can not make an educated decision on risk if you don’t have enough information. Without demoes, you are basically closing your eyes and reaching into a bag of games and pulling one out and hoping it is a good one.

    Videos do not demonstrate the gameplay at all. Sure you see the game being played, but you do not get to experience the game at all. Sure the actions on screen look cool, but if the controls are screwed up, you will hate it.

    MOvies can sell based off of a trailer. After all, everything that you would experience in a movie can be represented in a trailer. Games cannot be. Sure you can show off story, cutscenes, dialog, graphics, physics etc, but the game is mostly about the gameplay. That cannot be well represented in a passive trailer. Reviews are the same. Sure someone will like the gameplay, but you may not and will need to try yourself. You need a demo.

    I know that there is a massive grey area around downloading to try the game before you buy it. There are other options like renting borrowing etc, but PC games cannot be rented (at least no where I know of). Many developer/publishers don’t release demos. Also, with renting, you don’t get a return on that rental. You pay $8 to rent the game for 3-5 days, if you don’t like the game you lose $8 but you also save $52 by not paying full price to decide you didn’t like it.. If you like the game and buy it, you paid $8 premium over the price of the game for the right to try the game first. Not really worth it. Why should that trial not be free?

    After all, they let you test drive a car for free. Any car you want to try before buying, the dealer will let you take it for a spin. Can you imagine buying a car just after looking at it?

    But of course, you can always wait a few months after release and get enough people to give you feed back on it. It does not take long for that to start pouring out of the internet. But still, wouldn’t you rather try it yourself?

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  35. Eville1NSI ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s simple. You don’t. You make a choice..Do I take a risk purchasing a game without a demo? Look at reviews on line if you trust them, ask people’s opinions. If all else fails then wait until it’s cheaper.


  36. ZippyDSMlee says:

    ..Wait…… half thos companies are so bad they can’t get money for their games illegitimately …

    The problem with distrobustion(IE uploading) is how do they know you are the first person to put it open the net or completed any significant full downloads, the whole thing is a joke.

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  37. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for making it easier for me to justify stealing everything I can just to make sure I don’t support you guys.

  38. E. Zachary Knight says:

    There is no justification for stealing something. None whatsoever.

    By you stealing their games, you are actually justifying in their eyes the behavior they are showing in fighting piracy. They see that every step they take makes the pirates more aggressive in their piracy, so to counter that aggression, they become more aggressive in their fight against piracy. It is an endless loop.

    The only way to really fight these kind of tactics is to avoid games made by these publishers completely. Don’t buy them new or used. Don’t steal them. Make it very clear that there is no way you will play games that are produced by a company with such practices.

    Sure you may have to go without a few games you may have wanted. But get over it. They are games. Not food or shelter. You don’t need games and you can skip a couple of high profile game releases.

    If these companies see that no one is buying their games, the first thing they will look at is how often they are pirated. If they cannot find any of their games being pirated, there are two possible things they could think. The first being they will think that pirates have found a new super secret way to transfer games. The second being, they will think there is something wrong with the game or themselves.

    That is when they will change their practices.

    Again, piracy only justifies the behavior of the RIAA and these game companies.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  39. Pinworm4545 says:

    I’ve never understood HOW they can track down pirates, at least downloaders anyway.

    If they accuse someone of downloading illegally, does that not prove beyond a doubt they were invading that persons privacy?

  40. Anonymous says:

    "I’ve never understood HOW they can track down pirates, at least downloaders anyway."

    They pretty much hop on a torrent and target the ips they see that they’re connected to.

    So, if you’re using usenet, ftp, irc bots, dc++ or anything else; these idiots really wouldn’t have any idea you are pirating anything.

    The ips they go after can change between users as well.  Even cable isps with semi-static ips do change them around on ocassion.

    So basically, there’s no foolproof way to catch someone pirating games.

  41. Pinworm4545 says:

    Sorry, I worded it incorrectly. I understand how they actually do it, what I’m wondering is how they can do it LEGALLY. Because monitoring what someone downloads is a blatant invasion of privacy.

  42. Verbinator ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Ah the verbal wonders that are euphemisms. And I just learned a new one from the Rationalization crowd …

    "Private Individual" is Rationalizer speak for "Criminal"

    Important to remember that law is not the same in all countries.

  43. odc04r says:

    Usually the company doing the donkey work will verify your address as being part of a torrent swarm uploading data, this is usually their evidence.

    Then it is a question of whether or not they can persuade a court that it is convincing enough to make your ISP reveal who you were behind that IP address at the time.

    This is a very simplistic version of events ofc! But it is basically on the money.

  44. Aliasalpha says:

    I’m very disappointed that Codemasters are in on this, they’re a company generally worthy of respect

    Also, typo: "Although many gamers were incensed by the attack, gies beyond mere opinion"

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