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EU Paid For Report That Said Piracy Isn't Harmful -- And Tried To Hide Findings (thenextweb.com) 169

According to Julia Reda's blog, the only Pirate in the EU Parliament, the European Commission in 2014 paid the Dutch consulting firm Ecorys 360,000 euros (about $428,000) to research the effect piracy had on sales of copyrighted content. The final report was finished in May 2015, but was never published because the report concluded that piracy isn't harmful. The Next Web reports: The 300-page report seems to suggest that there's no evidence that supports the idea that piracy has a negative effect on sales of copyrighted content (with some exceptions for recently released blockbusters). The report states: "In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect. An exception is the displacement of recent top films. The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally."

On her blog, Julia Reda says that a report like this is fundamental to discussions about copyright policies -- where the general assumption is usually that piracy has a negative effect on rightsholders' revenues. She also criticizes the Commissions reluctance to publish the report and says it probably wouldn't have released it for several more years if it wasn't for the access to documents request she filed in July.
As for why the Commission hadn't published the report earlier, Reda says: "all available evidence suggests that the Commission actively chose to ignore the study except for the part that suited their agenda: In an academic article published in 2016, two European Commission officials reported a link between lost sales for blockbusters and illegal downloads of those films. They failed to disclose, however, that the study this was based on also looked at music, ebooks and games, where it found no such connection. On the contrary, in the case of video games, the study found the opposite link, indicating a positive influence of illegal game downloads on legal sales. That demonstrates that the study wasn't forgotten by the Commission altogether..."
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EU Paid For Report That Said Piracy Isn't Harmful -- And Tried To Hide Findings

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  • bury it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @06:57PM (#55241297)

    When the study doesn't fit the narrative, just bury it! If that isn't bias, what is?

    Piracy does and can hurt legal revenue, but nowhere near as much as many seem to think. A more interesting study might be: "What hurts legal revenue more- piracy, or DRM + region locking + overly high prices + time-locking + scarcity + poor legal choices to obtain content?" Care to wager which it is?

    • Re:bury it! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @07:13PM (#55241363)

      I stopped pirating games a decade ago, when they became legally available in my country at normal prices.
      Sadly, the same is not valid for music I listen to, and movies were always locked down for home viewing. I'd gladly pay for a virtual cinema ticket to be able to watch recently-released blockbusters from home. I'm sensitive to high volume sound and cinema "3D" with those plastic glasses give me severe headaches - so no cinema for me. I gave it another shot recently, went to watch "valerian and the city of a thousand planets" and came back with tinnitus and a 2-day headache.

      Lack of options force me to access torrent sites, where I can find blu-ray quality movies with surround sound and subtitles. If I could pay-per-view for the same quality, I would. But I can't. oh and there's also the "the movie isn't available in your country" bullshit, because some shady distributor signed exclusivity, even though they don't offer streaming service whatsoever.

      • >"I'm sensitive to high volume sound [...]. I gave it another shot recently, went to watch "valerian and the city of a thousand planets" and came back with tinnitus and a 2-day headache."

        Yep. Theaters think that LOUDER = more impressive or higher quality or more "experience." It is nothing of the sort. I take musician earplugs with me everywhere and I must use them almost always in theaters to protect my hearing and get the volume tolerable. I sprung for expensive silicone ones now which are quite co

    • Irrelevant (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mi ( 197448 )

      Piracy does and can hurt legal revenue

      This is not even relevant. If the creator does not want you to use his creation for whatever reason — or even without reason — you should not use it. Same goes for whatever strings he chooses to attach to it. If you find his position wrong/ridiculous/racist/profiteering/whatever, your only morally-acceptable recourse is to not use it.

      • Stand alone complex. Nothing is ever truly original and nothing is created in a void. Copyright is a crime against sentient kind and should be abolished.
      • "If the creator does not want you to use his creation for whatever reason â" or even without reason â" you should not use it."

        If the creator does not want you to use his creation for whatever reason -or even without reason, all he has to do is not making it... ahem... PUBLIC.

        Once it's public, it's public.

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        And how does this fit in with discrimination laws? Isn't refusing to sell in one country but not another a form of racial discrimination?
        If you sell something, you should sell it under the same terms and at the same cost to anyone who wants it.

        If you discriminate against me (by refusing to sell, or by imposing ridiculous terms not imposed on others) then i refuse to pay for your content. If you think i'm unworthy to have your content then i will obtain it by other means simply to spite you.

        • >"Isn't refusing to sell in one country but not another a form of racial discrimination?"

          No it is not. It might not be nice, it is irritating, and often seems unfair, but it is not racial discrimination.

      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        Ah, this is so cute.

        Copyright is an artificial, government backed monopoly on the publication and distribution of a "protected" work .

        You are not assured of any money whatsoever. Ever. The LGP edition of Ballistics from Grin, SE proved that out to me. Even if there wasn't the 5-10k units of pirated versions on The Pirate Bay out there, the thing probably wouldn't have been much more sold for Linux.

        Not because of the Linux market's "small". I know better. You appear to not.
        Not because of the piracy, th

        • by tibit ( 1762298 )

          > Do you have IP, which is to say, creative works protected by Copyright?

          We all do. Almost everything original you write down is automatically protected by Copyright. Every single picture you take, with very minor exceptions, is protected by Copyright. Every answer on stackoverflow. Every nontrivial comment on any social site. Pretty much all of the Tweets that are full-length. Etc.

          The widely spread myth is that Copyright is something special, only applicable to works made with a "purpose". It's not, and

      • This is not even relevant. If the creator does not want you to use his creation for whatever reason — or even without reason — you should not use it.

        How can I do so when shops selling the necessities of life force me to use it? By entering a grocery, I am exposed to the music that the shop has licensed to play using revenue from my grocery bill. And from that moment of "access" until my death, I am barred from writing a song that's substantially similar to what was playing at the time.

    • When the study doesn't fit the narrative, just bury it! If that isn't bias, what is?

      Well, I tend to agree, but I also think that before we get up in arms, we should try to understand this in a wider context. This is in fact something that has been in the news several times recent years - not about piracy, but about politicians not following the advice of their own experts. Most notoriously, the furore about David Nutt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Nutt), who was dismissed as a government advisor for criticising the UK drugs policy. He was IMO 100% right in his criticism, but I think

    • When the study doesn't fit the narrative, just bury it! If that isn't bias, what is?

      When a study produces no statistically significant result, publishing it will likely make the media spin it in the wrong direction.

      I can see both cases here. The media and public have enough problems with understanding statistically significant studies, let alone those which aren't. That said, the study was paid for by pubic funds, so it should have been published on those grounds alone.

    • What hurts legal revenue more

      rubbish blockbusters? Formulaic re-boots/re-hashes? Copycat me too genre films...

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday September 21, 2017 @06:58PM (#55241299) Homepage Journal

    the report concluded that piracy isn't harmful.

    vs.

    seems to suggest that there's no evidence that supports the idea that piracy has a negative effect on sales

    As we all know, absence of proof is not a proof of the opposite. Indeed, the quoted report explicitly says:

    That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect

    I would not blame anyone for not publishing a study that's so inconclusive...

    • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @07:38PM (#55241501)

      If you spent half a million dollars of public money to get get a report, you should publish it even if it was inconclusive. The question of whether piracy is harmful may not yet have a conclusion, but the question of "what was the result of the $428 million euros spent investigating the harm of piracy?" certainly has a conclusion.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by mi ( 197448 )

        you should publish it even if it was inconclusive.

        Huh? Why?.. What would the publishing of an inconclusive study have achieved? It was not paid for from some secret account, it was possible to obtain it — indeed, TFA explicitly says, it was obtained by perfectly legal means...

        And, BTW, TFA alleges attempts to "bury" the study, but offers no evidence to support the allegations...

        • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @08:46PM (#55241741)

          Huh? Why?.. What would the publishing of an inconclusive study have achieved?

          I don't know if you are aware, but it is customary to publish inconclusive scientific studies. There is useful information in the final report, even if there is no conclusion. That's why the report exists in the first place. It probably shows things like their methodology, what data they collected, etc, and might be useful in future studies if even to avoid making some of the same mistakes. Sometimes people even go back to old "inconclusive" studies and find useful data in them after the initial flawed analysis.

          Was the analysis flawed? Was the data truly inconclusive? No one would ever find out if it's not published.

          And, BTW, TFA alleges attempts to "bury" the study, but offers no evidence to support the allegations...

          The author released the correspondence with the European Commission trying to gain access to the document and being given the run around. Is that "burying" the report? I guess it depends on your personal definition of "burying". But it seemed pretty clear to me that they were not enthusiastic about making this report public. I don't know that I would assume the motivation is deception (e.g. maybe they are unenthusiastic about everything), but I don't think the author's allegation is ridiculous, given the evidence she has presented.

          • by houghi ( 78078 )

            I don't know if you are aware, but it is customary to publish inconclusive scientific studies. There is useful information in the final report, even if there is no conclusion

            There is a difference between "inconclusive" and "no conclusion". The first is that you have looked and there is no difference and the second is that you not have looked (or not enough data was available)

            So in this case if the MAFIAA says that there is a difference, you can say "Bo, there is not". In the latter you would have to say "Yo

          • As a European, I'd rather like to think that if half a million euros of our money is spent on anything that I'd at least see the outcome of it. Hell, if they spend half a million euros taking a shit, I'd expect some cut-price compost to be available somewhere.

      • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) <hackertourist AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Friday September 22, 2017 @03:01AM (#55242751)

        the $428 million euros spent investigating the harm of piracy?" certainly has a conclusion.

        The conclusion being that you're off by 3 orders of magnitude. We're talking about Euros, not lire.

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @08:01PM (#55241595) Journal
      While what you said is correct that does not mean that the report has no value. They searched for evidence of harm and did not find any. This means that if there is any harm it is not visible in the places where they looked and so the report is useful in that the next search for harm clearly needs to look somewhere else. In addition, if piracy really does not cause any harm, then all such studies will show no evidence of harm and we need to see that in order to be able to conclude that in fact there might not be any harm being caused.

      We use the same approach in physics when searching for evidence of new models. If we find nothing then we publish this result along with the areas where we looked and saw nothing. The next experiment then knows not to look there and to try a different approach that looks in a different area of the parameter space. If, after lots of searches, massive areas of parameter space are ruled out then at some point people start to think that the new model is probably not the way the universe works and theorists start to develop other ideas which is what is happening with something called Supersymmetry now which was once regarded as the most promising model to explain Dark Matter. None of this would happen if nobody published their unsuccessful searches.
      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        Bingo! Not sharing that you found nothing means you're trying to hide things...

        It is a requirement, though not often followed in any endeavor these days, to show your "homework" for a given conclusion or set thereof.

        Doesn't matter if you're talking a Law, or a bit of Physics research.

        Hiding things or discounting them because they don't provide you conclusive answers is not science, law, or the like- it's merely religion in other clothing.

    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      That's true, there's quite a bit of evidence that piracy increases sales.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      What's so inconclusive about it?

      The thesis is "Piracy has a displacement effect on legitimate sales."

      The results could not find evidence that the thesis was true, with the limited exception of "recent top films".

      They couldn't verify the thesis, so doesn't that mean the thesis is false? And even if the thesis is false, doesn't that at least strongly imply that its antithesis is true?

      I think there's other ways of criticizing the study, like their measurement methodologies -- how do you measure the displaceme

    • by spitzig ( 73300 )

      It is very difficult to prove that things don't exist. Like a correlation between piracy and sales. For example, there can be a correlation in a different way that was not looked for. Perhaps there is a time delay. Perhaps more people play a game, but are not in a hurry to get the game.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Piracy, drugs, it's all the same. Research is ignored to uphold the basis for negotiated international agreements.

  • Everybody knows that when you are paid to produce a report it should say what those that paid you want it to say. There are a dozen ways to say that piracy is evil without actually lying.

  • by BLToday ( 1777712 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @07:54PM (#55241577)

    When I was young I pirated Civilization and Wing Commander I from a friend. Then I bought every new release afterward of both series because I loved them. I even bought Crusader: No Remorse and Crusader: No Regret because of how much I loved Wing Commander. Origin System was just kicking ass in 1990s. I'm still waiting for Crusader 3: No Escape :(

    How many people learned Photoshop because it was easy to pirate?

    But I don't think the same applies to movies. I doubt there are a lot of people that pirated a movie and then bought the Blu-ray of that movie.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Honestly, when you see a move that sucks, the $0.00 fee of entry makes it much more palatable.

    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      Someone gave me a shitty video CD copy of Lord of the Rings, wife loved it and bought it and all the sequels and dragged me to the theatre a couple of time to watch it.Probably at least a couple of hundred bucks the studio, distributors etc made from that one pirated copy.
      We almost always buy used (a dollar a DVD at the local thrift store) and those are the only 2 times I've gone to a movie in a long time.
      I'm also pretty sure I've seen studies that show pirating is a net benefit for sales, though these stud

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Brittish kayaker was killed by pirates this week [nypost.com], so it is very clear that they do the most serious of harm.

    To compare pirates to people who infringe copyright is a travesty which dishonors the real victims of piracy. It is the equivalent of Colbert calling Mitt Romney a murderer [youtube.com]. Only Colbert isn't serious when he makes the accusation.

    BeauHD's continued insistence on using the word pirate in lieu of copyright infringement in article after article reinforces the framing language desired by the MPAA and

    • I think Beau is just using the terminology that is in the article. In keeping with /. tradition I didn't read the article, just the summary.
    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      Yep. Piracy is usually a criminal offense. Copyright infringement is usually a civil matter.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Thursday September 21, 2017 @08:21PM (#55241681) Homepage

    I bought 3 Lord Of The Rings extended versions disks sets at a pawn show for $5 each. Pissed me off as another pawn shop had them for $3. The movie studios lots huge on my sale today.

    • Would you have bought them at full price? No? Then they didn't lose anything on the sale.

      • by Svartalf ( 2997 )

        Not to hear them whinge about it. Each used sale takes money away from them in their own whines and words. Because if they could keep you from buying the used copy, they could sell you the new one (If I'm disinterested in spending the money, no, you wouldn't- but they don't see things that way...)...

        Here's an example of the thinking there...and a study that shows how dangerous the thinking actually might be... [wired.com]

      • Actually if this was 8 years ago I would have. I have 800+ dvd's atm which includes DVD sets. Hell I paid $60+ 8 years ago just for a season of OZ, that was before I finally said fuck it as it was the last season and it was prices 3x what the previous season where.

        After that I bought 99% of all dvd's at pawn shops. One of the local ons always has $10 for 10 dvd sale even their BR are now $5.

  • with some exceptions for recently released blockbusters

    Uhh, isn't that a very very large percentage of the movies people want to see?

  • They apparently didn't pay enough to get a real "study".

  • Arrrrrr [youtube.com]

  • Normally I'd say it's to make money, but if piracy isn't significant, then anti-piracy efforts are a waste of money and the resources should be spent on something profitable.
  • sorry, but she's very blunt at telling the story as she sees it.
    Piracy does in fact hurt sales very much, but some people have the notion that, 'otherwise I would not have bought it anyway' is counting as not a missing sale. But it IS a missing sale, as you have consumed the content without paying for it. If you only downloaded it and didn't do anything with it, then that case can be considered not a lost sale, but if you download it and consume the content, then it IS a lost sale.
    Piracy may not hurt larger

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      You're completely and utterly wrong. Your argument literally makes no sense.

      Whether something is viewed or not makes no difference to whether it was a lost sale. I could watch or not watch a pirated film that I was never going to buy and I would still never have bought it.

      The premise of your argument is that if someone was to watch something then they would ALWAYS have bought it, but that's just obviously not true.

      It's only a lost sale if the act of pirating content led to someone not making the purchase wh

      • And that's exactly what wrong with YOUR view. If you consumed the content you should have payed for it, it's just like a shopowner who got stuff lifted, he has to write off the stolen good as the shoplifter has 'consumed the content'.
        So you watch which means you didn't pay even though you should have (if you didnt' enjoy it or not doesn't make any difference).
        It's about you having consumed the content, if you didn't consume the content it's not a lost sale, if you did consume it is, as you should have paid

        • by Xest ( 935314 )

          "And that's exactly what wrong with YOUR view. If you consumed the content you should have payed for it, it's just like a shopowner who got stuff lifted, he has to write off the stolen good as the shoplifter has 'consumed the content'."

          But that's a different thing "Should have paid for it" is NOT the same as "Would have paid for it". It's a simple concept, and morality is subjective.

          Some might reasonably argue that not paying money to organisations that have been willing to pay millions to lobby governments

          • you watched it without paying for it, therefore it's a lost sale, it's as simple as that. and the last sentence you wrote is just BS..
            • by Xest ( 935314 )

              Nope, it's really still not. If they'd never have made a sale to me because I object to buying anything from them then there's still no sale to lose.

              Don't preach to me about how I'm killing content creation. I'm a content creator, I'm a software developer, and I make a perfectly good living whether people pirate software I produce or not because I have this thing called a job, where I keep working and producing to make money, rather than naively believing it's okay to do a few hours of work once and then to

              • you're really as dumb as an ass. you watched the content without paying, legally you can not watch a movie without paying (actually paying or for example through watching it on regular tv). So you watched it and therefore it's an incomeloss for them, as you should have paid for it but you're a f-ing moron and just 'stole' it.
                The fact you're a software developer yourself doesn't make it better. Movies costs millions to make, and the profits of one movie has to pay for the loss of another (studio system). And

                • by Xest ( 935314 )

                  "legally you can not watch a movie without paying (actually paying or for example through watching it on regular tv)."

                  Legally you can't speed either, wanna take a guess at how many people do it every single day without anyone giving a shit? Are you also going to stupidly argue each time someone speeds someone dies because of it?

                  "So you watched it and therefore it's an incomeloss for them"

                  Nope, still not. There'd still have to be a chance of them getting the income in the first place, if there isn't because

                  • You really are as dumb as a doornail....
                    Funny, because slander would mean I said something that isn't true, but you have admitted to illegally downloading movies/series and watching them without the permission of the rightsholder. So what I've said is true... go and get a brain because you really are just a real asswipe who is trying to defend his illegal/immoral behavior.

                    • by Xest ( 935314 )

                      "Funny, because slander would mean I said something that isn't true"

                      I'd like to remind you about what I said - accusing me of theft when I have never committed any such crime is slander. You're now saying again that what you said is true, that is, you're re-affirming your claim that I have stolen something despite me alerting you that's not the case. This means you are wilfully engaging in slander once more. In many countries it's possible to argue that you aren't guilty of slander if you can show that you

        • Why "consume" and not "view"? Why "content" and not "work"? [gnu.org]

          Anyway, find me a shop serving the U.S. market where I can purchase a lawfully made copy of the film Song of the South or the TV series Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea, and I'll consider your point of view more valid.

          • it doesn't matter if you cannot get it any other way. It's not your right to be able to watch it, it's still a luxury product.
        • Let's say I was pirating Game of Thrones. I'd watch it. I wouldn't consume it. All copies would remain intact. I haven't deprived the copyright holder of anything, because the copyright holder still has everything the copyright holder had before I pirated it. This has the exact same market and financial affect as me not watching Game of Thrones (except that I might recommend Game of Thrones to others if I pirate it). If I distribute copies, I might reduce the number of copies sold. If I give it bad

          • man, you really are thickheaded... watch it without paying means lost sale, how hard is that to get into you thick skull.. it's just that simple. it isn't hard to understand.
            But go ahead, be a moron and try to defend your illegal/immoral behavior..

            • by Xest ( 935314 )

              So what you're telling me is that each time you've visited a free art gallery or exhibition, you have, by your own definition, "stolen" the paintings each time by looking at them?

              You're really not very smart are you?

              • My god, you really have the brain of an peanut... a free art gallery or exhibition has all the work shown there with permission from the creators. If you really don't understand that concept than you really are as dumb as a doornail..
                • by Xest ( 935314 )

                  I'm not the one making fundamentally flawed arguments that if you consume something without paying for it then you have deprived anyone else of access to it.

                  You've really just proved my point - displaying at a free exhibition is not a problem because multiple people can see the product and enjoy it, and in fact, it doesn't matter how many people come and see it, it's still there - no one has "stolen" it for themselves by looking at it, it's still there for the creator to take home or show to others at the e

                  • OH MY GOD....
                    Your intelligence is really low if you really think the displaying at a free exhibition is the same as watching a pirated movie.. there is no sense in talking with you if you really are as dumb as that.. but I think you're just trolling..
                    If there is someone who doesn't comprehend the ideas even a 6 year old is capable of comprehending, than it's you.. Yes, you are as stupid as a doornail, there is just no talking to nuts like you who don't have even the slightest intelligent in a single hair.

                    • Your argument style seems to be a mixture of insults and a complete lack of understanding on your part. To the copyright holder, exactly what's the difference between me pirating something and not watching it in the first place? Please focus on answering that. It's the part you're completely disregarding.

                      As far as the six-year-old thing goes, I believed a lot of dumb things when I was six. Moral codes should not be based on what six-year-olds think.

                    • To the copyright holder, exactly what's the difference between me pirating something and not watching it in the first place?

                      by pirating you consumed the content (for which you should have paid), by not watching it you just didn't consume the content.. It's not that really hard to understand.

                    • I consumed nothing, except in your imagination. When I leave with my unauthorized copy, everything's the same as it was when I arrived. Consuming something implies that something is now gone or missing or transformed, which in the case of copies is false.

                      Again, to the copyright holder, who doesn't know what I personally am doing, what's the difference?

                    • oh please, you do consume the movie if you watch it. And what's the difference if I hit you over the head from behind without you knowing it was me? You still have a headache afterwards.
                      You watched the movie for which you should have paid (directly or through watching it on regular tv with commercials or whatever). But you just don't want to acknowledge that as it makes you feel uncomfortable doing something illegal/immoral.
                      Try to imagine (yes I know it's hard for people like you) you made a movie for a mil

                    • Okay, let me put this in very simple terms.

                      There's a movie out there. I can pirate it, or I can not watch it. Tell me what difference it makes to the copyright holder if I do one rather than the other. Make sure that this difference is something the copyright holder can notice. If I hit the copyright holder over the head from behind, that makes a noticeable difference. If I take something the copyright holder physically has, that makes a noticeable difference. If I change the copyright holder's bank

                    • You really don't have a grasp at reality or logic, but your logic really borders on the same logic many thiefs employ to try to sweet talk their illegal behavior. It's like if someone's beating you completely senseless and then just says, what you're complaining about, you're still alive..
                    • Being beaten senseless is something you can notice (temporarily, anyway). Are you saying that pirates beat copyright holders senseless? If not, it doesn't answer my question. Insulting me doesn't either.

                      It looks like you can't answer my question, so here it is again. If I either pirate a movie or don't watch it, what is the difference of the choice that the copyright holder can notice?

                    • I've already answered your question multiple times but you just don't want to accept my answer.
                    • I don't want to accept wrong answers. Lost sale? That happens whether I pirate or abstain. Consuming a good? Show me what's gone when I've pirated. Watching without permission? How does that affect the copyright holder?

                      It's a very simple question that you don't appear to have an answer for.

                    • As I said I already answered that many times before.. but go ahead be a moron..
  • With the £350 million a week from the EU we will be able to commission and bury our own report.

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