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RIAA Not Suing Over CD Ripping, Still Calling Rips 'Unauthorized' 175

Posted by Zonk
from the so-it's-only-halfway-evil dept.
An Engadget article notes that the Washington Post RIAA article we discussed earlier today may have been poorly phrased. The original article implied that the Association's suit stemmed from the music ripping. As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing files in a shared directory. Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies' ... "something it's been doing quietly for a while, but now it looks like the gloves are off. While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market factor of fair use, it's never actually been ruled as such by a judge -- so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here."
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RIAA Not Suing Over CD Ripping, Still Calling Rips 'Unauthorized'

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  • Shooting in foot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matt867 (1184557) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:39PM (#21858888)
    "so paradoxically, the RIAA might be shooting itself in the foot here." Somehow or another the bullet will wind up in the foot of a consumer.
    • Re:Shooting in foot (Score:4, Informative)

      by voisine (153062) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @07:17PM (#21860118)
      I'm not sure they're shooting anything. Ripping a CD *is* unauthorized by the copyright holder. Fortunately, copyright law does not require authorization for such things.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mi (197448)

        I'm not sure they're shooting anything. Ripping a CD *is* unauthorized by the copyright holder. Fortunately, copyright law does not require authorization for such things.

        A very good point. Normal backing-up is permitted under "fair use". However, if the directory holding all these "backups" is shared with millions over the Internet:

        As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing files in a shared directory.

        then it is no longer "fair use", and RIAA is right to come

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sudog (101964)
          Unless the alleged infringer is in Canada, of course.
        • by HTH NE1 (675604)

          Normal backing-up is permitted under "fair use". However, if the directory holding all these "backups" is shared with millions over the Internet:
          "Real Men don't make backups. They upload it via ftp and let the world mirror it."
          -- Linus Torvalds
          • by mi (197448)

            They upload it via ftp and let the world mirror it.

            Sure — as long as the license of "it" allows for such a method, or if the method falls under "fair use", or some other license-overwriting principle.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Workaphobia (931620)
        That's what made me groan about this article. It confirms that the RIAA isn't actually (necessarily) questioning the legality of ripping, but they are twisting the words and facts as any good lawyer would, to insinuate that there is something immoral about a defendant that rips CDs and takes "unauthorized" actions. I just hope that the jurors in any case where they use that BS implication would be smart enough to see through it, but I'm not optimistic.
        • I think their game plan is a bit more nefarious than that. While common sense tells us that device shifting and format shifting are valid extensions of the concept fair use, they haven't been tested in court. What the RIAA would like to do here is set a precedent against device and format shifting being allowable, the idea being that we'd need to pay again and again whenever new devices or formats are developed.
    • They're definitely shooting themselves in the foot though. By saying that legally allowed so-called "ripping" is "unauthorised", What they're doing is essentially saying is that they don't recognised the law's jurisdiction.

      This could easily come back to haunt them in a court of law, if it's able to be presented as evidence of intent or behaviour. Somehow I think they'll get away with it though. A company with enough time and lobbying power on its hands can easily direct (usually pervert) the cause of jus
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or am I the only one that remembers when they went before the supreme court they said it was okay to rip from CDs to put songs on their iPods?
  • imagine that (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:42PM (#21858934) Journal

    Comment I posted in a firehose [slashdot.org] story (which took all of 30 seconds to realize the summary was simplistic and wrong):

    More Info

    here [washingtonpost.com] and here [arstechnica.com]

    Looks like the person in question was using Kazaa, which listed his mp3 files, although they weren't actually shared (uhh ... does kazaa publish them if they're not shared?) Media Sentry found them (but didn't actually download them?). He represented himself and lost big time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Misleading stories are no stranger to slashdot of course.

      The amazing thing is that we actually have a new story to correct the old?! In nearly 10 years I don't think I've ever seen something so close to an actual retraction on slashdot!
  • Nope, try again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pla (258480) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:42PM (#21858936) Journal
    As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for 'old-fashioned' song downloading.

    Still wrong.

    They sued him over uploading, or at least, having the files in question in his Kazaa shared folder.

    Yes, they may have "taken the gloves off" regarding their terminology, but this case has the exact same underlying "offense" as the thousands of other RIAA lawsuits we've heard about in the past few years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:43PM (#21858942)
    These copies are unauthorized!

    However, these copies are not illegal.

    Under fair use, you are allowed to make copies for your personal use, and it is perfectly legal.

    In this case, "unauthorized" is used in the sense of "Britney Spears Unauthorized Biography" instead of "Britney Spears Authorized Biography". Both are perfectly legal.

    • by mangu (126918) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:04PM (#21859098)
      When "unauthorized" is automatically equated to "illegal" we have a problem in our society. Are we required to ask for authorization from someone to do everything now?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Are we required to ask for authorization from someone to do everything now?

        No. That comes later.
        • by jamstar7 (694492)
          Personally, I'm wondering when RIAA is going to force the manufacturers to make car radios that require you to plug in a credit card before you can turn it on.

          It's the next logical step.

      • by CajunArson (465943) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:31PM (#21859328) Journal
        Maybe people on Slashdot have a problem when they equate "unauthorized" with "illegal" which they have done countless times in order to make the RIAA look bad. The RIAA is arguing in court filings that it does not "authorize" ripping of CD's.... which is 100% correct... it does NOT authorize you to rip from a CD. However, that is also completely meaningless as well. If I buy a car, the car maker does not "authorize" me to drive the car, paint the car, put gas in the car, etc. etc. etc. So what, authorization is completely irrelevant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mangu (126918)

          The RIAA is arguing in court filings that it does not "authorize" ripping of CD's.... which is 100% correct... it does NOT authorize you to rip from a CD. However, that is also completely meaningless as well.

          So, the RIAA is allowed to make frivolous statements in court? I remember that the last time (in 1992) I had a conversation with someone at the IRS about my income tax, one of my arguments was rejected on the basis that it was "frivolous" (i.e. completely meaningless), and the person there told me that

          • Now I'm not a lawyer and all that, but my bet would be that while calling a fair-use copy "unauthorized" doesn't change the legality, a copy's being explicitly authorized would certainly impact the validity of their argument, or at the very least require further examination of the specific terms under which authorization was granted. If that's so, then clearly specifying whether or not a copy was made with authorization suddenly becomes quite relevant.

            (And as a postscript, even if the word were truly me
      • Well, to be fair, copyright is all about making "unauthorised" equal "illegal", with a few caveats. It's a sad sign of the state of fair use, that it's so eroded and ignored, that people assume that, just because the RIAA imply so, ripping is illegal.
      • by syousef (465911)
        Are we required to ask for authorization from someone to do everything now?

        Yes we are! How else do you explain Vista UAC?!

        Cancel or Allow?
    • Yeah- and who uses AAC/MP3 for backup??? If anything the lossy file is for primary use and the CD/FLAC is for backup.
    • Right. I don't authorize the existence of RIAA, and it means about the same thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cfulmer (3166)
      Well, that's not quite right. There is no blanket "personal use" exception in fair use. Other countries have something like that, but it doesn't exist in the US.

      In the Betamax decision, for example, the Supreme Court differentiated between "time-shifting," which it ruled to be a fair use, and "library-building," which was not. Both are personal uses, but one is a fair use and one is not.

      Also, look at Section 1008 of the Audio Home Recording Act, which immunizes certain home audio copying -- you can't imm
  • You mean the "editors" or should I call them janitors at slashdot not bother to read an article before posting?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      They may have read the article, but the article sucked. If you put any amount of thought into it, you would wonder how the RIAA would randomly pick someone and sue them for ripping CDs for personal use. A google later you'd find out that he was originally identified as a kazaa user, went to court without a lawyer, and lost.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:45PM (#21858962)
    But is it illegal?
  • by crankyspice (63953) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21858992)
    I think, if a judge were ever to rule on the specific question of song ripping, it would be held as a fair use, extending the thinking in RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia (which extended the Audio Home Recording Act to 'space shifting' a track -- copying it from a computer to a handheld, for instance. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=9th&navby=case&no=9856727 [findlaw.com]

    Just because something has a fair use defense, however, does not mean it was authorized. In fact, asserting a fair use defense is a tacit acknowledgement that the copyright holder did not authorize the use, hence the need to rely on the fair use doctrine.

    Finally, even if ripping tracks is a fair use (likely), putting them online for someone else (especially if that someone else is not within the sphere of your private household, going by the text of the AHRA and the legislative record behind it) to download is certainly unauthorized and (per every court that's looked at it, e.g., Napster, Grokster, Aimster, etc) not within the fair use doctrine.

  • Still not accurate (Score:5, Informative)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21858998) Homepage
    What the RIAA said in their court filing was that copies that are ripped and placed in a shared folder are unauthorized copies. They did not say anything about copies that are ripped but not shared.

    This is significant because fair use depends on the purpose of the copying. Copying to put on your portable player would be a totally different situation under a fair use analysis than copying to give away to strangers on the internet.

    At least in this case, they aren't trying to argue that all ripping is illegal--just this defendant's ripping. (And in other cases, they have said that ripping for your portable player is OK).

    I believe that there are similar considerations if a defense under the Audio Home Recording Act, rather than under fair use is considered. The nature of the defendant and the reason for ripping would be relevant as to whether that covers him.

  • by rdean400 (322321) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21859000)
    If the judge doesn't go along with their argument, they'll have to shut up about ripping being unauthorized.

    If they get mp3's from ripping ruled to be unauthorized usage, that will just drive another nail in the coffin of CD sales. Consumers will turn to digital download services and completely eschew physical media. Artists will see the dwindling usefulness of the record companies and go independent.

    Either way, the RIAA member companies will lose out. It would be far better for them to compete in the new arena than to use litigation to drive their way of thinking down everyone's throat. If they continue to ignore the cluebat beating them over the head, they'll wind up in the same boat with other organizations that have tried a similar approach (*cough*SCO*cough*).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slashdotard (835129)
      This is a business that seems to regard it's customers as the enemy. The way it's going, they will eventually start suing anyone just for buying their product.
  • They're right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:49PM (#21859004) Homepage Journal
    They're not authorised by the copyright holder.
    Fortunately, you don't need their authorisation, so that's OK.
  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:50PM (#21859006) Homepage Journal
    Did the person copying them have authorization? No.

    Fortunately for most of us you don't need authorization for fair use purposes as you have the right to make such copies (depends on the law where you are of course).

    However if you are using them for purposes that aren't covered by fair use then the fact they are unauthorized is very relevant as your copying was not permitted by right.

    The RIAA aren't being tricky here, they are stating the plain truth.
    • Here's an interesting quote from one of the legal briefs in the case:

      "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" [Supplemental Brief [ilrweb.com], page 15, lines 16-18, emphasis added].

      The phrasing that they used seems to indicate that the MP3 files were authorized until they were placed into the shared folder. Now, I'm not a lawyer, so it's possible that this means absolutely noth

  • Zombie News? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @04:54PM (#21859030)

    Is this the same retread story that's been making the rounds for the last two weeks?

    Short summary: Guy ripped CD and placed MP3 in P2P shared directory. RIAA sues him for "making available" an "unauthorized copy". Media ignores first part and reports that RIAA is suing the guy for simply ripping a CD (how would they know if that's all he did?). Frenzied and completely incorrect stories are reported and posted to slashdot, with hundreds of comments posted by people who can't (or choose not to) read and correctly comprehend the actual events.

    Will somebody please put a bullet in this undead zombie beast of a story? It seems to be submitted every day and the summary is damn near always wrong.

  • The rips in the brief are unauthorized because they have been placed in the share directory. Here's how it breaks down:

    • A CD ripped to your hard drive for personal use: OK.
    • A CD ripped to your hard drive and then copied into your Kazaa share directory: unauthorized.

    Thus, the very same ripped MP3 file can go from "authorized" to "unauthorized" just through the act of making it available for sharing. "Personal use" is the big deal here, and I think everybody will still continue to argue over what "person

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darthflo (1095225)
      Nah. CD ripped to hd for personal use: unauthorized, legal under fair use doctrine. CD ripped and shared: unauthorize, illegaly redistributed.
      • by shark72 (702619)

        I stand corrected. While from time to time various record label mouthpieces have acknowledged that ripping for personal use is okay, agreed that it'd be nearly impossible to get one of them to sit in the stand and state that it's officially "authorized."

        The point I was trying to make is that the record label was not stating that the mere act of ripping is illegal. Some may draw that inference from the Engadget's use of "authorized" but as you correctly point out, they are different things.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fredklein (532096)
      unauthorized because they have been placed in the share directory. Here's how it breaks down:

      A CD ripped to your hard drive for personal use: OK.


      What if (thru Windows File Sharing), my hard drive itself is shared?? What about Administrative (C$) shares than many are not aware of?
      • by shark72 (702619)

        "What if (thru Windows File Sharing), my hard drive itself is shared?? What about Administrative (C$) shares than many are not aware of?"

        I can't answer this one for you. It's one of those Schroedinger things: it all depends on what the court decides. But first, the record companies would have to catch you, and then opt to take you to court.

        Practically speaking, I wouldn't worry. If you're sharing your music with your workmates (as many, many people do), I suppose your biggest risk would be a disgruntl

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stewbacca (1033764)
      I'm normally not a paranoid cynic, but I'm actually quite bothered that the RIAA can try to dictate how I organize the files on my personal computer. What I suspect they are doing, by wording it they way they did, is to create as much of an accusatory tone as they can without having to actually prove any illegal activity. It would be one thing to say, "User X seeded Song B to a bittorrent client", but then they'd actually have to prove that, or face libel/slander charges.
      • by mpe (36238)
        It would be one thing to say, "User X seeded Song B to a bittorrent client", but then they'd actually have to prove that, or face libel/slander charges.

        In order to actually do they'd at minimum need to download the file in question. Using a client hacked to never upload. Even then all they'd be able to say is "This material was made available by a machine with that IP address..."
        • "This material was made available by a machine with that IP address..."

          This is what they did in the case against that woman who actually went all the way to court without settling. This totally pisses me off, since they can't prove that I'm the one who did the download. Who's to say my machine wasn't totally pwned by some remote hacker? Perhaps a thief snuck in while I was at work, or a drunk friend at a party used my computer (or a sober friend for that matter).

          This is the same thing that pisses m

  • by jesboat (64736)
    Am I the only person who finds it bitterly ironic that, when a correction about a misleading summary is *finally* posted to Slashdot, the misleading summary was actually in some other news source?
  • are doing is seeing if the judge is going to call them on the carpet for calling personal copying infringement.

    The idea is that they want to establish a few things:

    1. If the judge is favorable to their interpretation of copyright law, or:
    2. If the judge is neutral, perhaps that neutrality can be shifted by their suggestion that personal copies are illegal, and
    3. The implication that the copies are illegal presumes the defendant was engaged in illegal activity irrespective of the copyright claims. So, the
  • by vux984 (928602) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:06PM (#21859108)
    This is a stupid article.

    They ARE unauthorized copies. There really has NEVER been any debate about that. The label didn't specifically authorize them therefore they are unauthorized. ITS THAT SIMPLE.

    That said, the ENTIRE POINT of fair use is to legalize 'unauthorized copies' in limited 'fair use' circumstances. Fair use, by definition, operates on unauthorized copies. You have to make an unauthorized copy in order for fair use to apply. If the copy was authorized you wouldn't need fair use -- because you've got explicit authorization directly from the rights holder.

    The RIAA calling these cd rips unauthorized is about as salient as when they 'over' identify the defendant... if they mention that Jane Doe is a 35 year old woman who works as a bookkeeper, they are not suggesting that being 35 years old, a woman, or a bookkeeper are issues in the case, they are merely identifying the defendant.

    Similiarly identifying the unauthorized songs ripped from CD by the defendant merely identifies the songs in question. The fact that they are 'unauthorized' vs 'authorized' is as irrelevant as the fact they were ripped from CD instead of Sirius/XM-Radio.

    The judge certainly knows this. The lawyers certainly all know this. Maybe the defendant isn't aware, but that's why he should have a lawyer.

    Knee-jerk reactions by bloggers who seize on irrelevant facts without knowing or understanding how copyright works is the real issue here. I propose we have another front page article... "prominent journalists and bloggers somehow don't know making a copy without explicit authorization results in an unauthorized copy, DUH!"
    • Thing is you have to know the context in which the question was being asked. In the Hotaling case the copies were illegal copies. The court used the term "unauthorized" as synonymous with "illegal". In Howell the judge was asking the question in light of the Hotaling case. When he asked if they were unauthorized, he meant "were they illegal?".
      • by vux984 (928602)
        Except that if they are unauthorized copies they can be presumed illegal, because the onus is on the defendant to successfully argue fair use before they aren't. (Fair Use is a -defense- against a charge of infringement... and to use it infringement has to occur first.)

        The RIAA is essentially free to assert unauthorized copies are illegal... its up to the defendant to prove they aren't.

        That doesn't violate the presumption of innocence... because of course the defendant himself is presumed innocent of wrongd
    • by hyades1 (1149581)
      Sigh. And people wonder why "lawyer" and "asshole" are so often treated as synonyms.
  • by Frater 219 (1455) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:08PM (#21859124) Journal
    I am "unauthorized" to walk around town or drink my coffee. Nobody, certainly not the RIAA, has granted me any permission to do so. However, I also require no authorization. This is the important thing to learn here: when someone says you have no permission to do something, ask yourself whether any permission is needed. You need nobody's permission to exercise your rights. As soon as you accept the lie that you do, you're lost.
  • Of course ripping is not an authorized copy, but it's not illegal. It doesn't have to be authorized by the RIAA to be legal. It's legal because of fair use.
  • Users aren't going to give fuck whether they are "authorized" to rip CDs or not, or even if it is fair use -- they are simply going to do it. The only thing that will stop them would be DRM, and DRM on CDs is pretty much ineffective anyway.
  • by yeremein (678037) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @05:25PM (#21859278)
    The following has been removed from the RIAA's website, but the Internet Archive remembers [archive.org]:

    If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail.
    • The following has been removed from the RIAA's website, but the Internet Archive remembers [archive.org]:
      If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail.
      Good catch.
    • by srleffler (721400)
      Heh, this would seem to kill any attempt to sue over CD ripping, by estoppel.
  • Sue someone...this is what we call a tipping poing, a well over due tipping point...push that envelope just a little further and see what happens...
  • INAL, but from my understanding, If you repeatedly accuse someone (individual or group) of violating your rights and/or property and refuse to press legal action, that is, as far as I know, textbook libal/slander...we need to form a coalition of music fans who rip CDs to digital file formats and sue the RIAA for character assassination.
  • has any judge not made an unauthorised copy of a copyrighted work?
  • Call that paradoxical? I bet it wouldn't make a humanoid robot's head explode.

    Perhaps you meant "ironically". Or even, "counterproductively". But "paradoxically"? No.
  • > As it actually stands the defendant isn't being sued over CD ripping, but for placing
    > files in a shared directory. Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA
    > is deliberately describing ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies'

    Apparently Engadget is confused as to what a "backup" is for and what a "shared directory" is for.

    May I quote from a Speedy Gonzolez cartoon, where the fat oaf cat is looking for something to put out his friend, on fire. He grabs a bucket:

    "P - E - T - R -
  • If you rip your CDs to an MP3 player, and don't share the files, the RIAA will never know. Even if it's illegal as hell, you won't be sued if the would-be plaintiff doesn't know it has a case.
    • by mark-t (151149)
      I believe you have touched on the precise reason why such personal use copying is typically considered exempt from copyright infringement in the first place.
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday December 30, 2007 @07:06PM (#21860026) Homepage
    > Engadget notes that the difference here is that the RIAA is deliberately describing
    > ripped MP3 backups as 'unauthorized copies' ...

    They are 'unauthorized copies'. So are copies made under fair use. Unauthorized is not a synonym for illegal. It just means that you don't have the copyright owner's permission. However, there are many things you can legally do with a copy without the copyright owner's permission.

    > While there's a pretty good argument for the legality of ripping under the market
    > factor of fair use,...

    You mean under the Audio Home Recording Act exception. "Fair use" is something else entirely (it is, though, an example of something you can legally do without the copyright owner's permission).
  • ANY directory is a potential "shared" directory. Filesharing software doesn't limit sharing to C:\Share, or any other fixed name. By the RIAA's contention, any music file on a computer can potentially be shared, so any music file on a computer must be illegal.

    Would someone just go out and metaphorically shoot these guys so that we can just be done with them please.

  • You format shift when you place a vinyl disc on a turn table and change those wavy groves into electrical signals.

    You format shift when you place a CD in a drive and turn pits into a stream of digital bits.

    You format shift when any physical medium is transformed into compressions and rarefactions in the air beyond the speaker surface.

    You format shift when your ear drums translate compressions and rarefactions into nerve impulses.

    The whole concept of listening to music is a series of format shifts.

  • ...but the first thing I do is rip them and put them away. Makes a nice backup.

    If this is illegal too I might as well just get the music off some file share network.
    • by wpiman (739077)
      Perhaps the idea is to have people stop buying CDs, and move people over to getting their content from a place like iTunes. If you RIP your content from a CD, you can put it in whatever format you want. Their is no content control.

      If you buy from a place like iTunes, there is some form of control, and in the future they can alter the form of control. Power is in their hands.

      I think the whole premise that record companies want to continue to sell media is flawed. It costs them money to produce the medi

  • you're safe.

    After a little research I can tell you that its:

    * Arista
    * BMG
    * Capitol Records
    * Elektra
    * Fonovisa
    * Interscope
    * Lava
    * Loud
    * Maverick
    * MGM
    * Motown
    * Priority
    * Sony
    * UMG
    * Universal
    * Virgin

    Just don't buy any music from any of these companies and you should be safe.


  • Seems to me they just took away another reason to buy a CD. If I can buy from iTunes or other online service, sync my iPod to that or make playlists and burn CDs but face the threat of lawsuits for buying and ripping a CD of the same material and then doing the same things with it, why should I buy any more CDs?

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