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Everyday Copyright Violations

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the copywrong-extortion dept.

Patents 431

Schneier has pointed out a great law review article about the problems with copyright. The author takes a look at normal daily practices and how many commonplace actions actually result in what can be considered copyright violations. "By the end of the day, John has infringed the copyrights of twenty emails, three legal articles, an architectural rendering, a poem, five photographs, an animated character, a musical composition, a painting, and fifty notes and drawings. All told, he has committed at least eighty-three acts of infringement and faces liability in the amount of $12.45 million (to say nothing of potential criminal charges). There is nothing particularly extraordinary about John's activities. Yet if copyright holders were inclined to enforce their rights to the maximum extent allowed by law, he would be indisputably liable for a mind-boggling $4.544 billion in potential damages each year. And, surprisingly, he has not even committed a single act of infringement through P2P file sharing."

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Imminent destruction! (5, Funny)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21481855)

From the .pdf the article quotes:

In the late afternoon, John takes his daily swim at the university pool. Before he jumps into the water, he discards his T-shirt, revealing a Captain Caveman tattoo on his right shoulder. Not only did he violate Hanna-Barbera's copyright when he got the tattoo--after all, it is an unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work--he has now engaged in a unauthorized public display of the animated character. More ominously, the Copyright Act allows for the "impounding" and "destruction or other reasonable disposition" of any infringing work. Sporting the tattoo, John has become the infringing work. At best, therefore, he will have to undergo court-mandated laser tattoo removal. At worst, he faces imminent "destruction."
Look on the bright side, at least we wont be seeing more of the Zune tattoo guy.

Re:Imminent destruction! (1, Interesting)

bconway (63464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21481913)

Unfortunately for the author's hyperbole, tattoos of copyrighted art on one's person fall under fair use.

Re:Imminent destruction! (2, Interesting)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482169)

Was there a court decision which has verified this?

Re:Imminent destruction! (5, Informative)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482509)

Based on a cursory Westlaw search using the terms 'copyright' & 'fair use' & 'tattoo', this issue has not been litigated in the US. A personal tattoo does not fall into the listed categories of fair use such as criticism, teaching, scholarship, or research. See here. []

Ordinarily, non-commercial uses that do not affect the value of the copyrighted work tend towards fair use. This limitation applies regardless of the medium of the purported infringement. In order to get some real closure to our tattoo debate, what we need is a porn star with a Mickey Mouse tattoo clearly visible in a video.

(warning: puns incoming) That would give us reproduction in a commercial context, and someone with deep pockets to sue. /ducks

Re:Imminent destruction! (2, Informative)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482767)

"Ordinarily, non-commercial uses that do not affect the value of the copyrighted work tend towards fair use."

Yep. More reasonably the copyright holder would sue the tattoo artist, who would be the one performing the actual copying and the main commercial beneficiary of the possible infringement. As far as I can recall, simple possession of an infringing copy has rarely been considered illegal for the purpose of copyright law.

Re:Imminent destruction! (4, Funny)

sledge_hmmer (1179603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482801)

That "Mickey Mouse tattoo in a porn flick" sounds like an interesting idea. Quick, find out which one of us geeks does the IT for Hustler magazine. That way we might be able to get in touch with Larry Flynt and see if he wants to take on another fight! I do have a suggestions to make though - the tattoo should be Donald Duck and the man can get a blowjob while we have that audio clip of DD getting a bj actually being the soundtrack. I wonder how many copyright laws that would violate?

Re:Imminent destruction! (2, Insightful)

masterzora (871343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482813)

But a professionally-done tattoo is indeed a commercial use, which could potentially make the tattoo artist liable, giving John liability for knowingly aiding blah blah blah. And he's still the work, and thus subject to destruction.

Re:Imminent destruction! (5, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482381)

Unfortunately for the author's hyperbole, tattoos of copyrighted art on one's person fall under fair use.

Well, thanks for clearing that up.

I had no idea that a functional majority of the Supreme Court of the United State (A) had issued a writ of certiorari [] in an appellate case involving copyright and fair use; (B) has chosen to collectively blog on Slashdot under a single pseudonym "bconway"; and (C) has decided to publish a definitive opinion on the scope of fair use in personal body art under the aforementioned pseudonym in the aforementioned Slashdot. As opposed to, say, The United States Reports [] , which is the oh-so-last-century "official" recording mechanism for SCOTUS decisions.

I personally think you're right. But since Section 107 of US Code Title 17 doesn't call out "personal body embellishment" as one of the explicit examples of fair use, it's a judgment call. Not your judgment, not my judgment, but a court's judgment. And, if the appeal process runs far enough, the Supreme Court's judgment.

ObDisclaimer: IANAL, but neither are most of y'all.

Re:Imminent destruction! (3, Funny)

amokk (465630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482401)

You know what, people like you are the reason that Slashdot has such a bad reputation for providing dubious legal advice. You are one of the people that must firmly believe "If I read it on a blog, it must be the law."

Since you are such a damn good lawyer, I'm sure you'll have reasonable sources to back up the claim that you're making. As another poster has already asked, please provide us some sort of peer-reviewed documentation to support your claim. Claiming that something is fair-use just because you don't like the alternative does not make it so.

More statements along those lines:

Killing somebody in self-defense is completely justified.
Making 14,567 copies of a song is fair-use.
Ripping an encrypted broadcast and distributing it to my group of friends is fair-use.

Note, I'm not defending copyright law, as I personally think it's gotten to the point where it's ridiculous. Basically, the purpose of this post is to call you a fucking retard. Thanks.

Re:Imminent destruction! (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482493)

This was a decent discussion on BoingBoing [] not too long ago.

"Is it true that it's 'not infringement once fair use kicks in' ?

Fair use is a defense to infringement where you admit infringement but say it was justified, isn't it? You affirm the boundaries of copyright but justify crossing them, rather than arguing that the boundaries should be moved. This is why it's argued on a case-by-case basis.

This article suggests some good reasons to move the boundaries, I think."

Not sure if that's right (IANAL), but it sure sounds like it to this lay-person.

Re:Imminent destruction! (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482499)

There's a great short story about a guy who gets a tattoo from a world famous tattoo artist. He ends up not being able to pay the artist, who donates the work to the state, and the guy's not allowed to leave the country because of restrictions on exports of "national treasures". I wish I could remember who it's by.

Re:Imminent destruction! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482601)

Unfortunately for the author's hyperbole, tattoos of copyrighted art on one's person fall under fair use.
Unfortunately for your credibility, the author provided citations to support his opinion, while you have totally failed to provide any such thing.

Sorry, you lose. Better luck next time.

This is by design, not by accident. (5, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482031)

> At worst, he faces imminent "destruction."

He has no time to survive! Make his time! (Move Zune! For great injustice!)

Sorry. I had to.

Since we've all seen and we all know Cardinal Richelieu's "Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him." quote, and Rand's "There's no way to rule innocent man..." quote, let's go for something a little closer to home in US jurisprudence.

"With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him."

-Former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice, Robert H. Jackson [] , April 1, 1940

Unfortunately, it wasn't an April Fool's joke.

Re:This is by design, not by accident. (1)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482265)

You win the thread. Lots of luck educating the masses. ;)

Re:This is by design, not by accident. (1)

D.A. Zollinger (549301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482781)

Exactly, and this was a point brought up in the article. Copyright infringement is nothing new, people have been recording songs off the radio, passing mix tapes to their firends, etc. However, now that a lot of infringement is done on the internet, thus there are IP addresses and logs with which to find and prosecute (did I say persecute?) casual infringers who otherwise would have gone unnoticed. The article goes into detail about how copyright holders are using technology to enforce their copyright into domains with which they knew infringement was taking place, yet could do nothing about it. He even theorizes that the day may come when your radio will record you singing along to the songs on the radio, convert voice to text, match to lyrics, and send you a monthly bill licencing you to sing those songs you sang!

Encoding and Distributing (4, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482157)

O.K. if I encode the opening chords of Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" into a barcode and have it tatooed on my schlong, then sleep around, and then the RIAA comes after me, do I have a leg to stand on? Do I have a shot? Will they cut me off? Am I in violation? Can I be infected by a rootkit? Does taking viagra count as intent to mass distribute?

duh (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21481861)

Well, I've always said, as the rapid pace of technological change continues to force a reconsideration of the
vitality of our intellectual property regime, it is tempting indeed to cite the
"communications revolution" of our time -the Internet- as disrupting to the
delicate balance struck by pre-digital copyright laws between the rights of owners
and users of creative works. After all, it was no less than the Supreme Court that
succumbed to this inexorable urge in its first encounter with cyberspace by
famously proclaiming the Internet "a unique and wholly new medium of
worldwide human communication."

that was a freebie (5, Funny)

fmobus (831767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21481901)

for Bruce Schneier!

Why a link to his blog, when all he says is boilerplate comment about the original article. Yeah, I know it's a PDF, but anyway. I believe does not need techniques like Roland's Piquepaile to get hits.

hmm maybe I should watch my back now, considering I have bad-mouthed Bruce Schneier... brb, unplugging my box from the netwoGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAfldsfjadlkfw35r$@#%$ETW#TE%$T

Re:that was a freebie (2, Funny)

fmobus (831767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482105)

good God, this guy is fast! look what he done to the grammar on my previous post! I don't remembert typing it like that!

Re:duh (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482625)

Everyone treats the internet like laws can't apply, but were the laws reasonable there would be no problem. Take copyright for example - if copyright law were written in such a way that noncommercial use of a work would automatically be non-infringeing, there would be no problem.

IMO, anyone who believes that P2P really costs artists money has not given much thought to the matter. Clearly, if I've never heard of you I'm not going to buy your CD or book.

Plagairism is another matter entirely; it should be severely punished.


link to the actual article (4, Informative)

UnCivil Liberty (786163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21481899)

Link in the story is a blog, here is the pdf that the blog links to: []

As an earlier poster pointed out I found the caveman tattoo bit about destruction quite funny, was also shocked to hear that "Happy birthday to you" is still under copyright, according to wiki it will expire in 2030 in the United States.

Re:link to the actual article (4, Informative)

djones101 (1021277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482143)

The validity of the copyright for Happy Birthday to You is also greatly in question, given the origin of the song itself. The copyright information on that can be found here [] .

Re:link to the actual article (2, Informative)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482205)

Yup, if you ever wondered why all the Chotchkie's and Flinger's of the world sing their own obnoxious and flamboyant versions of the birthday song... now you know.

Re:link to the actual article (1)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482325)

The sad part is if any of their flamboyant birthday songs got popular, they'd rely on the same laws to extort money out of people using it.

I know the people who made laws establishing copyright went into it with noble intentions, but it's hard to see that now. The whole concept needs to be revisited, the system needs some kind of check against exploiting society the same way it was originally intended to prevent exploitation of creators.

Re:link to the actual article (2, Interesting)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482331)

I was also quite surprised by the following passage:

Clearly, we are only beginning to grasp the massive changes afoot with the advent of digital technology. Yet amidst the flux, one constant emerges: the 1976 Copyright Act lies always at the heart of these debates, inextricably mediating our relationship with cyberspace and new media. Three decades have passed since the current Copyright Act went into effect. Without dispute, tremendous economic, technological, and social changes have occurred in that time. And although these changes do necessarily warrant concomitant reform, this symposium follows on the premise that we have reached an appropriate point to evaluate the efficacy of the extant Act and think holistically about the issue of reform.
I had no idea that the Copyright Act was made in 1976. Such a recent law, yet I thought the copyright law was from antiquity. Definitely something I'll have to read up on. I agree completely that we need to rethink copyright law, but how can that be done when the money is all on the side of the copyright maximalists? (RIAA, MPAA)

Re:link to the actual article (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482393)

I was just rereading my message and since I quoted the article, I engaged in illegal duplication of a copyrighted work for public display -- Wow, neat! Slashdot is full of copyright law breakers then, in fact, you might say html is built for it because of the blockquote tag.

Re:link to the actual article (2, Informative)

davetd02 (212006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482851)

No, quoting parts of a work for the purpose of criticism (which is exactly what you were doing) is the prime example of fair use. No liability, you're OK. Look, I'll even quote yours to prove it:

since I quoted the article, I engaged in illegal duplication of a copyrighted work for public display

If you had quoted the entire article on your blog and just added one or two sentences of commentary then it's unlikely that you'd be engaging in fair use, but here you quoted a very small part of the total article and added a substantial amount of commentary (even if it was in part inaccurate). Fair use saves the day.

Re:link to the actual article (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482617)

Didn't you wonder why all the chain restaurants have their own version of a birthday song instead of just singing "Happy Birthday"?

Re:link to the actual article (4, Insightful)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482765)

it will expire in 2030 in the United States

No. It won't.

Sometime before that, DisneyCo will go to Congress and instruct them to extend Copyright terms again.

And Congress will obey, like the subservient little corporate bitches they are.

Puh-lease! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21481925)

That's nothing! I upload 90 gigabytes of copyrighted material every day! This 'John' ain't got shit on me. Whodaman?!

Re:Puh-lease! (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482107)

That's nothing! I upload 90 gigabytes of copyrighted material every day! This 'John' ain't got shit on me. Whodaman?!
Your IP address has been noted.


As easy as booting Linux (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21481965)

Some would argue that just booting Linux causes copyright and patent violations. They are so big and so common that they become difficult to distinguish.

Yay for something everyone hear already knows! (2, Insightful)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482001)

Any good /.er can see that copyright is reaches way too far, but now what good is that doing us. The only way this can change is to break through the lobbying stranglehold that the content-producing cartels have on our legislatures. Short of that there isn't much that can be done other than just hope you aren't one caught by someone trolling for a lawsuit.

Re:Yay for something everyone hear already knows! (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482759)

The only way this can change is to break through the lobbying stranglehold that the content-producing cartels have on our legislatures.

And there's the rub - you're talking about making fire cold, at least in the US. Sony gives ten million to the DemocRATs and ten million to the Re(prehensible)publicans and it doesn't matter which candidate loses, Sony wins. And as they own all the politicians, the only two chances this will change are slim and none.

You should not be able to "contribute" to more than one candidate in any race. That's clearly a bribe. Clearly bribery is legal in the US.

You should not be able to contribute to the election of someone you aren't eligible to vote for. John Shimkis is supposed to be MY representative, not Sony's or Bill Gates'. But a Sony lobbyist Bill Gates has easy access to Shimkis, while I have next to none.

We have the best politicians money can buy. So long as our laws are for sale to the highest bidder, I refuse to respect them and will instead follow my own conscience.


PS- I have a friend who reports to prison on the 1st for a drug posession charge. I have another friend whose brother spent five years in prison for loaning a drug dealer money, while the dealer spent 2 years. There is no justice in the US!

Applicable for all laws? (5, Insightful)

TheGoodSteven (1178459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482019)

Isn't this concept applicable to laws in general? How many of you think that you could drive to work without making a single violation? Hell, when was the last time you got on the highway and the majority of the traffic wasn't going at least 5 mph over the speed limit? And depending on what state you live in, you have varying laws that you most likely break every day. The law is getting so intricate that few people understand exactly what it entails anymore. Ideally, the law should be easily understood; written in the vernacular. We shouldn't need lawyers to translate it for us.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482239)

Alot of speeds limits are set to low for the road and it can be unsafe to try to go the limit. This is not the same thing as alot of Copyright rules are not posted like a speed limit is.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (1)

TheGoodSteven (1178459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482399)

However, the effect is the same. Go about your daily activities as you normally would, and you are breaking the law.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (1)

glaswegian (803339) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482451)

Be careful if you live in Britain - it is an act of treason to put a stamp on an envelope if the queen's head is upside down. []

Another one from the same article that we may all be guilty of :

"It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing"

Re:Applicable for all laws? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482869)

On the other hand, it seems pregnent women have a very wide choice of places to relieve themselves, to include a bobby's helmet.

'Excuse me sir, I require the use of your helmet for a minute...'

I heard on the radio a few times last week. Source []

Re:Applicable for all laws? (2, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482455)

Ideally, the law should be easily understood; written in the vernacular. We shouldn't need lawyers to translate it for us.

Yes, someone should come up with a short list of laws. Ten seems reasonable. And they should be very concise and to-the-point. But something tells me that even then, people would still have a hard time obeying them...

Re:Applicable for all laws? (1)

TheGoodSteven (1178459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482539)

The point is that the law is to the point where you violate it in your daily activities. If you steal, lie, kill, or commit adultery in your daily activities then I think that being subject to punishment would be justice. However, the rest of us are doing normal activities in our daily routine; none of which we might consider to be illegal.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482841)

My first version had fifteen, but some got dropped.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482571)

Yeah, I live in Oklahoma and every time my wife gives me a blowjob she is breaking the law. I guess she just doesn't like to break the law.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482775)

I guess she just doesn't like to break the law.
Oh yes she does! A lot.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482735)

One big difference, I think, is that going 5 mph above the limit on the highway is not going to burden you with 12.5 million bucks in punitive damages: you'll get a small fine (if that!), and that's it.

Re:Applicable for all laws? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482831)

How many of you think that you could drive to work without making a single violation?

Me. The cost.benefit ratio isn't worth it. Why should I NOT signal when I change lanes or turn? What's the use of breaking the speed limit when your speed is determioned not by the speed limit laws, but by traffic signals? I could have renewed my license by mail as it's been over a decade sinse I've gotten a ticket, but for the first time in my life I have no vision restrictions (click the sig for details).

However, I agree completely with the point you are making. I don't worry about the law, although I try to be careful around law enforcement personnel.


And Fonts... (3, Interesting)

popo (107611) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482025)

Does anyone even understand copyright on fonts?

Re:And Fonts... (1)

TofuMatt (1105351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482125)

Fonts have copyrights?


Re:And Fonts... (1)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482129)

Yeah. But it would take me so long to explain you'd literally die of old-age before I was done.

So use whatever you feel like until you have to do a corporate project, then pray there are open-source fonts similar enough to what you'd normally use.

Re:And Fonts... (3, Interesting)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482153)

Their copyrightability is questionable. The U.S. Copyright Office will not register them.
My 2 second google search brings up this [] . Disclamer: I haven't read that page though other than the title.

Re:And Fonts... (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482217)

Also, the main reason that the are not copyrightable most likely is because they are considered to be "useful" tools.

Re:And Fonts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482341)

It's pretty easy, actually.

* Font *faces* - i.e., the actual font designs - are not copyrightable.
* Specific font *implementations* - e.g., TTF files etc. - are copyrightable (and thus, these days, copyrighted).

That's all there is to it. If you buy a font from a design company, you can't copy the files without violating that company's copyrights, but you can reimplement *exactly* the same font without doing so.

Re:And Fonts... (5, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482167)

Does anyone even understand copyright on fonts?

I believe I have a semi-reasonable grasp of it, but welcome anyone to correct any errors I might make. The outlines of the characters in a font are not themselves copyrighted (nor can they be). However, the digital representation of these characters is copyrighted (i.e., the font files you buy or that come with software). This also includes derivatives based upon modifying the original digital files. However, if you were to print out the characters in a font, then redraw them in FontLab or Fontographer, you could claim the copyright to your new creation. However, you will then be scorned by the typographic community for doing so unless you at least make a few modifications to some of the characters. It's somewhat similar to software in that a disassembly and reimplementation of it must take place.

Re:And Fonts... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482219)

I should add that the digital font files are considered software and are subject to all of the same copyright laws that protect other pieces of software.

Re:And Fonts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482691)

Is this the same typographic community that charged such ridiculous rates for fonts? If so, and you're one of them, please, tell them that they've lost my both my patronage and my respect. Thanks.

Re:And Fonts... (2, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482889)

It's the same typographic community that is charging the price for fonts that the free market will bear. If you don't want to pay the going rate, don't use the product. It works the same way for fonts as it works for DVDs or any other bundle of bytes that costs money to make. It's hardly a difficult concept to grasp.

Maybe you should make your own high quality fonts and sell them at a price you consider reasonable? If you're right that the current going rate is "ridiculous", you could undercut them massively and still make a tidy profit. Think of the market share you could grab! I mean, it's not like making fonts requires a massive time investment up-front with no guarantee of any returns whatsoever or anything, is it?

Re:And Fonts... (4, Funny)

RealErmine (621439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482725)

However, you will then be scorned by the typographic community for doing so

I wonder exactly how it would change my life for the worse should this occur. Would I be relegated to dictating correspondence to a shady "letter merchant" in dark alleys? Would the psychological oppression from being a typographic outcast cause me to break under the steady gaze of traffic signs and theater marquees? Would all children's educational programming be mysteriously absent from all the PBS channels I receive? Would the BIC company blackball me from future writing implement purchases? Truly, these are the questions that keep one awake at night.

Re:And Fonts... (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482747)

That's pretty much it: a typeface as such is not copyrightable in the USA (note that this is not the same everywhere in the world), but a modern TrueType or OpenType font file is effectively a computer program that generates the typeface, and computer programs usually are copyrightable.

Note further that when you buy a font, you enter into a contract with the seller where you almost certainly agree to many other restrictions on what you can do with it. These contracts are always available for viewing before you make the purchase, so they are not shrinkwrap or clickwrap EULAs of the sort that Slashdotters generally believe to be invalid.

There are plenty of freeware and even open source fonts available, as well as the range of high quality commercial fonts bundled with Windows and OS X -- and even Linux users can get part of the Windows bundle perfectly legally -- so there's really no excuse: anyone who doesn't want to pay for fonts should simply stick with fonts whose creators are happy not to be paid by them.

most violations are or were 'fair use' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482095)

current "Intellectual Property" laws are simply trying to commercialize the fruits of mind, but since we depend on the free exchange of ideas, such laws hinder society and must be resisted

when thought is commercialized only commercials will have thoughts ;~)

Re:most violations are or were 'fair use' (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482541)

when thought is commercialized only commercials will have thoughts ;~)

When thought is commercialized, only commercial entities can be permitted to have thoughts.

There, fixed that for you.

That could also make one wonder about the possibility of a hidden agenda behind the decline of education for common (read: not-rich/powerful people or their families) people.

If one has no words for a concept, it becomes hard to think about or communicate to others.



Re:most violations are or were 'fair use' (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482873)

"Intellectual property" is a fiction in the US, as the Constitution makes plain. You have a "limited time monopoly", not "ownership".

"Imaginary Property" is a far more useful and honest term.


Are emails copyrighted? (0)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482133)


Each unauthorized reproduction of someone else's copyrighted text--their email-- represents a separate act of brazen infringement, as does each instance of email forwarding.
Is that really a copyright violation? How is an email copyrighted? I thought something has to pass through the copyright offices in the basement of the LoC to actually have a copyright.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (4, Insightful)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482161)

Copyright is automatic, you do not need to register a piece in order to have copyright on it.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482263)

That is correct. Emails, however, often fall into the "conversation" realm and would lack the necessary creativity to gain copyright protection. So you can't just say all emails are copyrightable because some, if not most, will not be.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482435)

Besides, I would imagine that you, the sender, give implicit license to every node between you and the recipient to reproduce the bits for sending to the next node / to the recipient, and give implicit license to the recipient to reproduce the e-mail on-screen (if not in print) so that they can actually read it.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

bishop32x (691667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482609)

Are emails correspondence or conversation?

Correspondence is copyrighted(see TFA) while conversation is not.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482881)

This probably just depends on how they are written. This is a good point though. I think they might actually fall into correspondence more often. Chats would be more like conversation.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482687)

If it is not registered, you can not sue for money. Therefore, it shouldn't have been included in his violation/$ total.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482743)

Do you have a source for that claim? I have never heard it before.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482837)

A work has to be registered for you to sue for copyright infringement [] but it doesn't have to be registered before the infringement takes place before you sue. It does, however, need to be registered before the infringement takes place to be able to get statutory damages [] . See 17 USC 411 & 412.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482193)

There's these litting things called Footnotes. See the part you didn't include... that little number 31 up in the air actually means something:
17 U.S.C 102(a)(1), 106(1), 501(a). Although one could attempt to distinguish the existing case law on the matter, courts have deemed fair use rights to a previously unpublished work, such as a piece of correspondence, to be exceedingly limited. See, e.g., Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enters., 471 U.S. 539, 555 (1985) (noting the strong presumption against fair use of unpublished works); New Era Publ'ns Int'l. v. Henry Holt & Co., 873 F.2d 576, 583-84 (2d Cir. 1989) (noting that "a small, but more than negligible, body of unpublished material cannot pass the fair use test" and that under ordinary circumstances "the copying of 'more than minimal amounts' of unpublished expressive material calls for an injunction barring the unauthorized use" (quoting Salinger v. Random House, Inc., 811 F.2d 90 (2d Cir. 1987))).

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

djones101 (1021277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482201)

Common Law Copyright []

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482209)

No, at least for those countries that have signed the Berne Convention, anything "original" you write has automatic copyrighted status granted. It might be easier to enforce that copyright in the courts, however, if you register your work with the Copyright Office.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (2, Informative)

geoskd (321194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482215)

Is that really a copyright violation? How is an email copyrighted? I thought something has to pass through the copyright offices in the basement of the LoC to actually have a copyright.

The copyright act of 1976 basically dictates that, unlike previous copyright law, all new works are automatically covered by copyright law, and are afforded its protections. This means that all new original and derivative works are protected by copyright whether they are registered or not, and whether the owner chooses to enforce their rights or not.


Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

praksys (246544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482255)

Used to work that way - a long time ago. Now original works are protected by copyright as soon as they are committed to a tangible medium (i.e. written down, recorded, etc). Copyrighted works still have to be registered with the LoC before any legal action can start - but that is just a formality that the copyright holder can satisfy at any time prior to taking legal action.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (3, Informative)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482279)

Theoretically, a copyright exists the moment a document is created, which is to say that if I have a half-written story somehwere which someone takes and finishes, I still have copyright to the original story and they have violated my copyright without including the section I wrote via attribution a.k.a. without my express consent. Now, copyright law was a lovely idea when the world was traversable in months, only a small fraction of the population could read and write, and everything was committed to paper, but the dawn on fast travel, the Internet, and digital media makes it iffy, because it requires much more effort to establish that a work is in fact yours to begin with and then the possibility a work gets onto the Internet will cause so many copies to be created that anything short of a global corporation is going to have the resources to sue everyone for infringement. The gist of the article is simple -- the old way of handling copyright (and by extension, intellectual property) is ineffectual at best.

Take a look at Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482311)

Google News was considered to have broken copyright merely by aggregating news. They were REQUIRED by the belgian company to request for each and every infringementto enter into a contract rather than the belgian company put a meta tag or userobots.txt (because that isn't a contract).

So, yes, according to the (so far successful) attempt by Copiepresse you DO have to ask for permission for each and every copyrighted work (and copyright law doesn't say "but not emails").

Yes, it makes no sense, but the law hasn't made sense for centuries.

Re:Are emails copyrighted? (1)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482315)

Not at all.

Copyright starts the moment you create something.

Going through any process is just to prove that you created something. But if no one contests, for example, that what you scribbled on the back of an envelope was created by you when you said it was, you have copyright to it.

The spectre of selective enforcement (3, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482173)

That's a very good article. The example surprised me. I thought that one would need to be much more far-fetched than he was to get the total that he gets.

It even failed to mention some potential liabilities. When he "emails his family five photographs of the Utes football game he attended the previous Saturday," the point is the infringement of the copyright of his friend who took the pictures. He doesn't pile on the possibility that the images themselves contain copyrighted team logos, or that... this is so weird that I'm not sure I'm remembering it correctly, but I believe the owners of some buildings are now claiming that the appearance of the building itself is copyrighted and that photographing the buildings infringes... so the photographs might be infringing by showing the stadium itself.

What he does not mention is the spectre of selective enforcement. It is very convenient for authorities if everyone is a law-breaker, because then you always have a valid pretext for prosecuting/persecuting them.

Re:The spectre of selective enforcement (2, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482335)

I believe the owners of some buildings are now claiming that the appearance of the building itself is copyrighted and that photographing the buildings infringes...
We had to take pictures of a building complex downtown for a college class, and security came out and asked me and my partner to leave. Our teacher had to sort it out with the building's manager to get us a special permission for educational purposes.
All of that before 9-11 of course.

Re:The spectre of selective enforcement (1)

phorest (877315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482619)

See this item about I.M.Pei's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Trademark Lawsuit []

I know of this because I know the photographer Charles Gentile and worked with him on a few projects in the '80s

Where's the "No Duh" tag on this one? (1)

Sleeping Kirby (919817) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482231)

Anyone who's worked in the entertainment industry knows that the industry themselves violate the copyright laws more than anyone else. But if you think about it, anything and everything we do on the internet, email, heck, anything digital is a "reproduction". After all, when we view a html or a gif or hear a midi, it's a reproduced on our local computers. If these companies had their way, every word we speak would be copyrighted. But yeah, apparentally, even repeating what someone else said is copyright infringement. Or viewing a webpage or even you posting an e-mail sent to you can be considered copyright infringement.

Any quoting of this post without the owner's consent is copyright infringement and will be pursued to the full extent of the law... just kidding :p

Why Fair Use doesn't help (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482245)

I'm guessing someone will raise the point of Fair Use, so I'll repost the comment I posted on Schneier's blog as to why that doesn't really help you any. Oh, and a bonus link to USC 17 (copyright law) [] so you can see that I'm not making this crap up. Mind you, IANAL, but you need one to make sense of that. Any layman can figure out where and how it does NOT make sense, though, which is why I encourage you all to read it.


You guys realize that Fair Use is something you have to *prove in court* right? By the time you're proving that your use was fair, you're already on the hook for big money in legal fees.

And how many of the copyright rules do you know? Did you know that having a TV that's too large can be copyright infringement in some cases? You can rent console games that meet very specific requirements, but you can't rent PC software (I really have to wonder where the X-Box games fall, legally speaking, given that the X-Box is just a PC, but it doesn't seem like Microsoft cares to test it and they may still meet the statutory requirements).

Honestly, read USC 17 sometime. It's positively mind-boggling. We've got everything from international treaty created super-trademarks (the Olympics & Red Cross spring to mind), loads of crap meant to serve various lobbies, and so many screwball statutes that I don't understand at all.

Granted, IANAL, but I think that the average person would be surprised by just how many rules there are. And those are just the statutes!

God help you when you find out that, while "facts" aren't copyrighted, facts about a fictional work aren't really "facts" according to at least one court! That's right, the fact that Harry Potter attends Hogwarts may not be a "fact" per the law. So I might just have infringed upon Rowling's copyrights right there.

She won't sue, you say? Actually, she IS suing someone right now over that very issue because they want to publish an unauthorized encyclopedia...

Is it really Fair Use when there are so very many confusing rules you have to follow to maybe, hopefully be protected (with that assuming the courts decline to make a new precedent or extend existing law)?

Or to sum up this entire post, isn't it bad if we each need our own personal lawyer just to be able to *OBEY* the law?

Re:Why Fair Use doesn't help (1)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482811)

You can't rent PC software? The local library seems to be able to.

Olig. quote (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482261)

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
-Ayn Rand

Of course the same applies to copyright. The copyright laws have become so over reaching that everything we do on a daily basis could be construed as breaking a law, so if we displease the wrong person then they already have something to pin on us.

Re:Olig. quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482457)

that's why the "I have nothing to hide so I'm not concerned about government intrusion" is so misguided.

You can then imprison anyone who you object to based on these rules. Of course, the current moves to suspend, or reinterpret the US constitution ("Habeas Corpus is not a right") only help in achieving these goals.

Law on Everybody (4, Interesting)

Gadzinka (256729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482309)

Watching as US Copyright goes south is particularly painful for someone who grew in a communist country. I was old enough before '89 to take part in political discourse, which often took form of political jokes. It was a kind of very bitter humor, uninteligible for someone who didn't breathe this air of suspicion and fear. So this is a kind of nasty flashback for me, as it reminds me the joke/saying from those times: there is a law on everybody*. As soon as you stick your head too high, to far, put your nose where it doesn't belong, someone will find a law that will punish you severly. It's kind of bitter irony, that it is US, the mythical Land of the Free of my youth.


* pl. na kazdego jest paragraf

PS The nineties called and they want their "iso-8859-1 hardcoded webpages" back. Need I wait for "Web 5.0" to be able to use non-latin1 characters in /. comments?

Re:Law on Everybody (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482717)

Original crime - guilty of being alive. Somewhat like original sin (which is quite unoriginal), except that you accumulate it along the way.

there is a law on everybody

That means each and everyone has committed a crime, it's just that authorities haven't figured out - which ones. Al Capone anyone?

Re:Law on Everybody (2, Informative)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482845)

PS The nineties called and they want their "iso-8859-1 hardcoded webpages" back. Need I wait for "Web 5.0" to be able to use non-latin1 characters in /. comments?

In the mean time, see this [] for how to get UTF-8 characters to show up in HTML.

It's not a pretty solution, nor quick, but it will work.

Lost in translation? (1)

glaswegian (803339) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482327)

U.S. Constitution [] , Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8


"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Where has this gone wrong? Happy Birthday is under copyright?? This is blatant abuse, for financial gain of course, of what is legitimate protection for innovation.

the patentdead question of who 'owns' what (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482419)

some think that all we have/are can be described as gifts from yOUR creators. extracting excessive personal gain from these gifts is just another man-made scam in order to (yet again) extract just a bit more mammon from yOUR fellow man. so what is a fair day's pay?

meanwhile if you're not too busy, take a chance & look up at the sky from time to time. also, take the extra effort to look into the eyes of people as you pass by them during the day. you can pretend that everything's in order, but you'll miss the actual content of your effort. the lights are coming up all over now. pay attention. it's cost effective, & could lead to yOUR participation in the better days ahead. try considering whois the 'main competitor' of all that is wrong/fatal.

never mind attempting to second guess/deny the creators, consider more the blood, guts & dead people, as well as innocent children being starved/blown to pieces. takes some of the excitement of the techno babble out of it. yOUR 'mainstream' media has failed us whoreabully (futile attempts at mass hypenosys) in this aspect.

don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, so you'll be alert when witnessing the big flash.

there's lots to be done. the planet/population remains in crisis mode.

we're intending (do not underestimate intentions) for the philistine nazi execrable to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things. [] [] []

micro management of populations/anything has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster/death.

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption.

fortunately there's an 'army' of 'angels'(light bringers, for those who are afraid of/confused by heavenly stuff), coming yOUR way

do not be dismayed, it is the way it was meant to be.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected.

after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit?

for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way), there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available after the big flash occurs.

beware the illusionary smoke&mirrors.con

all is not lost or forgotten.

no need to fret (unless you're associated/joined at the hype with, unprecedented evile), it's all just a part of the creators' wwwildly popular, newclear powered, planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

or, it could be (literally) ground hog (as in dead meat) day, again? many of US are obviously not interested in how we appear (which is whoreabull) from the other side of the 'lens', or even from across the oceans.

vote with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable.

we still haven't read (here) about the 2/3'rds of you kids who are investigating/pursuing a spiritual/conscience/concious re-awakening, in amongst the 'stuff that matters'? another big surprise?

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Re:the patentdead question of who 'owns' what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482631)

all that stuff is irrelevent.
all you need is some good tunes, not this bothering about nazis and light bulbs and things.
relax, get with the music and forget about the distractions.

Happy Birthday (1)

timtimtim2000 (884095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482481)

It is weird that Happy Birthday is still under copyright. This is why large chain restaurants don't sing it to you on your birthday. Instead they sing some crappy restaurant-theme specific version of a birthday song. Texas Roadhouse has some crappy cowboy birthday song and the former Chi-Chi's has a silly Mexican birthday song.

*sigh* (2, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482487)

I respect Schneider, I am for copyright reform (but never expect to see it un the US so long as we remain a plutocracy with a more or less meaningless vote), yet I was disappointed. I should not have RTFA; I only did so because it was Schneider's blog, yet the entire post was in the slashdot summary.

I clicked on his link to the paper, and was disappionted to find a PDF. Google failed me when I made a cursory effort to find an HTML version.

The paper he links is itself incorrect in its very first page when it speaks of "the rights of owners and users of creative works." The US Constitution makes it quite clear that the "owners" of creative works are we, the people. The copyright holder is NOT the "owner". He has a "limited time" monopoly on publication, NOT "ownership".

When I've paid off my house, I will own it. I can pass it down to my decendants who can hand it down to theirs. My two registered copyrighted works, however, pass into the public domain after a rediculously long time.

When I see an inaccuracy in the very first page of a paper, especially a whopper like this, hat's as far as I read. Sorry.


Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21482839)

When I see an inaccuracy in the very first page of a paper, especially a whopper like this, hat's as far as I read. Sorry.

You can sing and dance all you want, but that's not how the law reads, and that's entirely the point of the paper. For the duration that Copyright law grants the creator a monopoly on the creation, that creation is theirs. Their descendants will even inherit it.

Oh shit, my birthday's coming up (5, Funny)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482525)

Should I get a license to sing "Happy Birthday to You" from Warner Chappell [] ? I guess I will, just to be safe...

Name of the Client: me
Description of the Presentation: birthday party
Who will view the presentation? friends and family
How many people will be attending the presentation? 20
What is the number of locations where the presentation will take place? 1
How many copies will be made? 25
Will any copies be sold? No
Please give a detailed description, including timing(s), of how the song will be used in the presentation: The song will be sung once before I blow out the candles on my birthday cake. There will be a camcorder set up and the recording will be sent to everybody at the party and some people who could not attend.
Are you going to license an original master recording or are you going to re-record the song? Rerecording
Will you be altering the Song's lyrics in any way: Yes
If yes, please type new lyrics.
Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday Dear RockMFR
Happy Birthday To You
And Many More
On Channel 4
And Scooby Doo
On Channel 2
And Frankenstein
On Channel 9
General Comments: no gifts, please


Fee: $0.00


Other side of story (1, Troll)

tokul (682258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482555)

Talk about copyrights when your copyrights are violated and copyright law is the only protection that your work has.

Huge stretches.... (3, Insightful)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482607)

The example has a number of things which either (1) are fair uses, (2) aren't infringements at all or (3) aren't subject to copyright at all.

For example, the cell phone snapshot that happened to capture a copyright picture in the background -- that's clearly fair use. Displaying your tattoo in public doesn't make it a "public display." The forwarded emails are probably subject to an implied license and, even if they weren't, they may not contain sufficient creative expression to be copyrightable. The rough drawing of an architectural building is not an infringement (see 17 U.S.C. 120(a)). Reading the e.e. cummings poem is probably also fair use, especially if each student has a textbook containing the poem.

Copyright law is generally *civil*, not criminal. In general, this means that a lot of wrongs are ignored by potential plaintiffs, just as a matter of tradition, convenience and politeness, just as they are with a lot of other civil wrongs -- nuisance, trespass, assault** (especially among children), etc..... Nobody goes around saying "Look at how many acts of trespass you committed today. We need to fix trespass law."

[Note: I agree that copyright law needs some reforms; the repeal of Sonny Bono would be a great start. I just don't find this example to be very persuasive.}

The law is concerned with nothing but the law. (1)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21482789)

Ok, you know what, this is ridiculous. /. keeps doing this. The article is not by Schneieieieieir or however you spel his name. The article is by John Tehranian. And, yes, that is just about the jist of the problems with copyright. You know what? Welcome to the Law. As a certain author (I think it was Dickens) wrote in a book called Bleak House, "The Law is concerned with nothing but the Law," IIRC. And that's how the Law works. Government makes up zillions of laws that make no sense and don't serve to accomplish anything. Half the time, the laws contradict each other. Imagine how crazy life would be if the law said that you MUST drive on a red light, and another law said you MUST NOT drive on a red light. Then all you have to do is park a police officer next to a red light. No matter what people do, they get a ticket. The situation isn't quite that bad when it comes to traffic laws, luckily, but it IS that bad when it comes to other things. What it all boils down to is SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT. They make up contradicting laws so that if you piss off the wrong person and they want to get you, all they have to do is match up perfectly legitimate activities with whatever law says they're illegal and they got you. Same goes for civil laws. If you think about it, it's in the best interest of corporations with barges full of money to have lots of contradictory laws so that they can create lawsuits and then file motion after motion until the competitor's resources run out and they are put out of business. There's another thing, too, that makes these big corporations immune. If YOU want to go after them because you have a legitimate claim, they'll dig up lots of places where you're infringing on THEIR copyrights just by existing and breathing, and so you'd better drop your claims or they'll hunt you down and cut your head off and stick it on a pig pole. Then some bumbling idiot like Darl comes along thinking he can play the legal lottery, but he didn't realize that Linus has more resources at his disposal than the Borg up in Regmond.
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