Fan Art: Derivative Work and Plagiarism

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by gestalt, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. gestalt

    gestalt Well-Known Member

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    Instead of hijacking poor Galvatronimus thread. I thought I'd open a new thread, so
    • We can get more people to post their insight on things
    • We get away from a slightly heated discussion


    Well Quintesson #1 complained, that there is an alarming number of copy&paste (my wording) art appearing on these boards. By that I mean works that just cut out a character from one piece and paste it in another picture, or pictures that are slightly altered by using filters on them. See attachments for examples.

    It is difficult to determine where original art ends and plagiarism starts. Andy Warhol would be accussed of plagiarism today. Shepard Fairey's Obama poster might even be plagiarism. Almost every comic book artist could be accused of it, because they often copy their references 1:1. Rupert Endive takes posters and advertisments and puts a smilie in one corner and calls it art.

    When does derivative work become art?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. megatronski

    megatronski PURGE THE HERETIC

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    i thought stuff like that went under the digibash prefix...
     
  3. AutoCon2076

    AutoCon2076 Brightest can in toolshed

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    I see where he's coming from. Just because he used digital art as examples doesn't mean plagiarism ends there. For example; you create a custom character using an Alternator and a 1:24 model kit. You paint him up in a unique fashion and everything. Then someone else comes along, copies your deisgn and paint work, but changes the license plate and the 'skin' from silver to gold - calling it someone new. That'd be plagiarism of the third dimension right there.

    ~Z
     
  4. payton34

    payton34 Well-Known Member

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    If that's the case, then 95% of what resides in the Radicons section should be considered a copyright/trademark violation of an intellectual property.

    I suppose that to be "proper" about things, every single thread can be prefaced with "I neither own, nor do I claim to own the artwork or intellectual property therein, it is merely a representation or an homage", or something along those lines. Yet, nobody does that. Reason being, it's obvious stock photos, it's obvious that nobody here "owns" any of the properties and every single person on this board is aware of this.

    Bottom line (as in the thread you posted a link to), some people simply go about their lives as being constantly negative, and live to complain and argue over everything.
     
  5. AutoCon2076

    AutoCon2076 Brightest can in toolshed

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    I was referring to original characters (fanmade), but I see your point.

    ~Z
     
  6. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    It's always best to cite original artists whenever possible.

    Right. It's assumed that persons posting their artwork here are doing so using Hasbro's IP, therefore the point is moot when it references Hasbro and their work. However, for added integrity, I think what you've suggested is a good thing. I've seen several fan artists, illustrators and kitbashers alike, have that tacked onto their own webpages, etc.

    What's becoming problematic is where someone takes a piece of artwork created by another artist outside of Hasbro's own office, slightly alters it, then claims it as their own artwork with no credit whatsoever. See my first statement of this post in regards to that. :) 

    I don't think this issue has much to do with "some people simply go about their lives as being constantly negative", etc. Certainly those persons exist, though. I don't think that's what's being referenced in this thread, though.
     
  7. Quintesson #1

    Quintesson #1 Eater of Fuzzy Stuff

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    As I'm the instigator of the debate, I'll post a couple of reference links.


    What I'm not complaining about, is digibashes or to a certain extend, clear photo edits where there was actually an obvious alteration made to the work. I'm complaining about the idea that someone can randomly and unlimitedly pick from existing art and claim it as their own by pasting it together or on some other image.

    The use of scans of comic art or other pre-existing (non-)'official' artwork. This also includes tracing and copying of images (details, pose, style etc). Even if you "drew the entire thing yourself", you still used and emulated someone else's composition, pose and muse.

    Here's some links to examples of art theft and art reuse threads:
    http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/transformers-fan-art/287232-rate-my-drawings-please.html (<-- loads of copied art and OP insisted it was not copied, even when shown each image was previously made by other artists)
    http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/transformers-fan-art/288060-magazine-covers.html (<-- parody, but no proper credit)
    http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/transformers-fan-art/280930-piranacons-backgrounds.html (<-- scans from Dreamwave MTMTE books pasted on backgrounds - note that he adjusted the credit given later on to fix infringement. In one of his threads some people had mistaken the art to be his, not everyone knows all MTMTE art after all. Art was obtained from "review" sites, where they were posted under reviewing license.)
    http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/transformers-fan-art/281457-combaticons.html (<-- another thread like the above, same guy as above, not the last of them, how many can you make before fair use is gone though?)
    http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/transformers-fan-art/283997-transformers-yugioh-cards.html (<-- person initially forgot to add credits, added them on request)

    See, I can get a bit 'anal' about copyrights, but the very least one can do is credit their source material and that's usualy enough for me.

    In some cases I will complain about the intellectual rights of the earlier artist, in case this is not done for parody sake - in the more distant past I've even seen some people try to sell prints of other people's art (clear theft, not a borderline issue).

    In many cases, one could claim parody or fair use for a pop art image like that Grimlock "Me King" image. However, simply taking the entirety of a piece of art without alteration and pasting it somewhere else is simply using someone elses work in their entirety. This is clear infringing of copyrights. It's true that in some cases art is really widespread already and the original author cannot be found as easily by all. In those cases though, pretty much every artist is traceable and can be contacted, if not my personal opinion of this is "don't use it, or at least state where you acquired it and under which license you're using it". But should the amounts of time something has been posted matter at all for whether you can use something?

    This goes especially with regards to personal or published art. People take far too many liberties with artwork that is in one way or another available to them. One can say "well it's posted there on the interwebs!", but that doesn't give you the right to redistribute an image. Any image posted is copyright (even when it doesn't say (c) on it!). There are different reasons why an image is posted, but these don't necessarily allow for redistribution. Typically an image is posted with the express permission of the owner, in some cases original work can be posted under review license (like wikis or quoted by critics), with credit. Think of screencaps, trailers, parts of a comic. Never though may you post the entirety just like that.


    To make a more personal example, I've seen my own art - without permission - be used in several signatures, here and elsewhere. The art was digibashed to become a "new character", by placing a cheap photo filter over it. What frustrated me at the time was that it said "Thanks: yaddayaddasomeone for creating the signature!". My work was taken credit for by someone else, without permission, even though I'm around and the person in question could have easily sent me a PM "could I change it with your permission?" and he'd have gotten the permission as long as he'd give credit where credit due.

    But even if you digibash, it's quite easy to state or link to where you obtained the image. I have made several digibashes of Seibertron.com gallery images, where I always credit Seibertron.com for taking the images in the first place, even if the colours are altered entirely.

    It's a matter of courtesy and respect that IMO even applies to signatures, albeit this - like avatars - is more in the fair use area. Clearly though, hardly anyone cares to inform themselves of copyrights or cares to apply to them if they do "because everyone else is doing it".
     
  8. Quintesson #1

    Quintesson #1 Eater of Fuzzy Stuff

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    One other thing, some artists (like Unicron-WMD in the past), didn't want their art to be touched by others. That included their linearts not to be coloured. As not everyone kept to this, they were forced to start putting huge obstructive watermarks into their images in order to prevent unwarranted use. This didn't exactly make the viewing more pleasurable for anyone else, nor the posting of art for the artist in question.

    Note that many artworks are collaborations of different people. In some cases there are more than the rights of one person involved and IMO one should have permission of all artists involved before doing something with it. Heck, even if you just inform them it's better than them finding out later their work has been used and feeling robbed.




    Think of it this way, one can work 6-15 hours on an image, you distribute it for the entertainment of others and before you know it, someone passes by, does a quick cut and paste, throws a filter over it and within 5 minutes "creates" a "new piece of art". That can hurt, of course some artists care more about this than others, hence why you should always ask.
     
  9. MACRAPTRON

    MACRAPTRON Well-Known Member

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    See, the main problem is that people often feel offended when other people use their artwork and manage to somehow get more attention than the original artist.

    Other than that I don't see a problem. It's just a matter of asking the person to draw another illustration in the same level of quality. He/she obviously can't. I can't imagine how frustrating it can be when people want to draw stuff and they just can't.

    The most ridiculous thing happened to me: I was contacted by Hasbro and Fleer 5 years ago to illustrate some TF trading cards.

    The project was cancelled, I never saw the money.

    Then in 2007, a Bumblebee that I made for those cards miraculousy appeared in a Hasbro panel at Botcon, showing the character development of BB for the 07 movie.

    I was like 'WTF', but what could I do? It's the same thing of when people use my artwork claiming it's theirs.

    Want to copy? Go ahead. That simply shows you can't do it.

    I don't even sign my stuff because nobody can do what I do. I get flooded by messages in my DA with people telling me that someone is taking credit for my artwork, which means they know who's the artist, and I don't even need to put my signature on it.

    I can tell that a pic was made by Don. He doesn't need a signature either. The style is the signature.
     
  10. Quintesson #1

    Quintesson #1 Eater of Fuzzy Stuff

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    Well, I don't think the 'amount of attention' someone gets is the problem though, I think it's more the principle of someone (intentionally) misleading someone else, or being too lazy to be courteous (in many cases, the latter can also be due to ignorance why to, or simply forgetting to provide credit). That's the case for me anyway, in that case any attention, or rather, any credit given to the fraudulant person is what irks me.

    And yeah Mako, your style is pretty recognizable all in all. Though I do think not signing makes you more vulnerable, especially since reclaiming something later if someone is making money of you becomes harder. I think signing is a good thing anyway, since then people who didn't know you can find you more easily and get to know your style better. Once you're established this is of course less the case, but IMO signing is overall a good idea.

    Btw, I've seen randoms sell t-shirts and coffee cups amongst other things on eBay with art from among others Josh, Matt Moylan, Unicron-WMD, King Starscream and Nick Kelsch. Nick got a cease and desist message regarding "making a profit off of Hasbro trademarks" from Hasbro for that I think. Either way, he almost faced court because of his avatar-icon site even though he had permission by Hasbro and that's 'just' pixel art! :/
     
  11. AutoCon2076

    AutoCon2076 Brightest can in toolshed

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    Hey! That's like when Coolio(sp?) tried to sue "Weird" Al Yankovic because "Amish Paradise" roflstomped "Gangsta Paradise" on the album charts. This conversation is a good read. I like Quintesson #1's view on things - his words sometimes make him appear with an 'a-hole' vibe, but dammit we NEED people like him to rectify things like this. Please don't take offense, Quint - I like your art work and your point of view. I am NOT insulting you! Okay, I'm going back under my rock to ponder, now.

    ::waves Quintessa flag::

    ~Z
     
  12. gestalt

    gestalt Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad that you came over here to discus things further, Qintesson #1. This thread would be pointless without your input. You brought attention to the problem after all. ;) 


    Based on the assumption, that everyone is only using Hasbro's IP it does seem superfluous. It does not excuse reuse of (fan)art from other people. As I see it, not forcing people to cite sources (like an extra field, when opening a thread) is gonna convey that no oone cares around here.

    OTOH if you do force people to cite sources, you're not gonna hit the right people. You're only discouraging oneshot fanartists, because they feel intimidated. Those that regularly submit art and don't care about it now, won't care about it then either. Those that police/moderate these boards in their spare time, will have an extra workload exacting a new rule, that might be moot in 60 percent (made up number) of all cases.

    Artists could sign their pieces, watermark them, or just etend the canvas of their picture and add their name and all the legalese they want underneath of it (Shouldn't be to difficult adding a plugin/action for that in their painting app of choice). Especially the latter would be helpful I think, since there might be others, like myself, that save those pieces of art they like. After a few days it's hard to remember the who/where/what.

    Artists posting here always had those option, yet I can't remember seeing a piece of work posted here that does.

    The above is no ideal solution and is no guaranteed protection. The following is a true story, that proves, that even watermarks won't protect your IP. A friend of mine, who I often share models with (we're both hobby-photographers) had to go to Hamburg to meet a client of his. He was there a day early, so he decided to walk though the city center. Suddenly he sees his wife smiling at him advertising shoes. A local shoestore had taken his watermarked photo he made of his wife and used it for advertising. They had flyers and posters and a huge billboard. Two weeks later court ruled, that the shop owner had to take down and destroy everything they had with that photo on it and they had to pay my friend 1.500€.


    Thanks for clearing up the issue. I, in an effort to keep my post short (The average timespan a person can pay attention is only 3 minutes after all) obviously didn't make it precise enough.

    Well except for straight copy and paste work, it sometimes is difficult to determine, when altering an image makes it new art. Take the images of Grimlock I posted. Everyone clearly knows the original image (it's in there for those that don't) and if I tried to claim, that they were my artwork, I'd probably be flamed within minuted. So why are Shepard Fairley and Andy Warholes pictures art?

    If I change the medium of a piece of work, does that make it art? If I make a oil-painting of well known characters (like Mickey Mouse, Superman,actors,etc.) that clearly is art. In fact their is an artists, that does that and he does not have to pay any royalties. How is that different from a kid that tries to copy(not tracing) an image from a comicbook?

    In fact comicbook authors often trace other peoples work. Without that shortcut some deadlines would be impossible to keep.

    BTW: I can't see any copyright marks underneath your TF-Fanart on DA. :poke : :D 

    Sorry to hear that, Macraptron. :( 

    The thing is Weird Al does ask for permission before making those parodies.

    No need to hide. Just make sure youo wear a helmet at all times. :) 

    However, as a personal rule, and as a means of maintaining good relationships within the music community, Yankovic has always requested permission from the original artist before recording his parodies.
     
  13. Quintesson #1

    Quintesson #1 Eater of Fuzzy Stuff

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    That's pretty much the problem though isn't it, when is something new and original? Personally I feel if you reuse anything that is already been used before, it's not entirely new, but it certainly isn't original. Not even if you alter 98% of it (seeing as it's easy to technically alter 100% already by adding a filter). It's simply not unique. Which is why I don't 'agree' with the slight insinuation that 'because some pro-comic artists do it to cheat a deadline, it's sorta okay to do it as well". Honestly, deadlines are killer, but that doesn't excuse cheating on a legal basis. Of course, that's not what economics says to the company or paycheck.

    While I have no problem with someone copying or tracing a work (mainly for practice), I do if they do not explicitly state that they did so. I do think there's a creative process difference between painting a photo and copying, by painting, an existing painting.

    Passing of a copy of a painting as a/the original is considered fraud though. That's pretty much why I have major issues with that if sources aren't cited: (random) people will make assumptions, for they have little to no means to judge, compare or verify who they are dealing with. :) 

    Heh, although I'll admit it's not in the texts under every piece, I actually do quite often state the trademark for TFs and their chars is held by "Hastak" or Hasbro/Takaratomy. :)  Sample!

    However, I ALWAYS make sure to submit in the "fan art" section, which means I do not claim to hold the copyright for everything depicted in the image to be entirely original as they are inspired by existing creations and designs, or simply the brand.

    In fact, considering I use the trademarked Autobot or Decepticon symbol on original characters, they are all derivative works to some degree. As faction markings are trademarked, that even goes for completely original designs if they feature them. In that respect, Hasbro could probably claim them or at the very least - if they wanted to - force me to remove the trademarked sigils. :) 

    Fan art - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Gives a reasonable explanation for this. :)  I also think this may be one of the main reasons why you'll never see fan art in a museum: it's not 100% original and copyright is questionable.


    PS: It often seems the length of posts differentiate between those debating and those casualy browsing. Sadly it doesn't always mean quality. In this case, it's a good debate though, so please continue. ;) 
     
  14. Quintesson #1

    Quintesson #1 Eater of Fuzzy Stuff

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    Please note I understand there's always some grey area and some duality involved in these issues.

    I also understand the wish of some people to 'create something quickly', but I don't want to excuse them for this, even at the cost of 'discouraging to post again'. :)  In doing so, I feel I encourage the person to create something more unique next time, rather than doing it again. If he or she cannot do so at that time... Sorry, but don't bother then. Hence why I also always will post crits when I can: to try and get someone to improve, not everyone realises that critique is the best thing one can get in order to advance. Even accepting you can be critiqued is quite hard for many, particularly those starting out. Those people will feel "It's not fair! I worked hard on this! You had more practice!" type of sentiments when faced with critique. It may hurt the ego in the short run, but dented ego is a small price to pay to advance.

    One day, long ago (2003) I had a huge argument regarding a transforming jet design (with pilot, based on a Sukhoi SU-37) I had drawn. It was inspired by standard TF seekers and although it didn't look like a seeker completely, you could see what it was inspired by. Despite of adding canards, changing parts into new parts, applying a generic TF head and other body bits, it looked quite standard because the same transformation and mecha layout was used. It was pointed out it looked remarkably like a particular existing Cyberjet design, as the transforming principle was the same (other type of jet though). Because of that accusation, I felt insulted as I actually didn't know the design in question looked remarkably like Machine Wars Megaplex (never heard of it before then!). In hindsight I could see what was meant and although it was not based on that character, I do now believe it was a derivative work more than a completely creative original, since it simply used a similar transformation to generic seekers. Funny though as I used a Sukhoi at the time and gave Sukhoi credit for designing it in the accompanying fiction. :) 

    I mean we all had to start somewhere and we all have to practice continuously to improve, and initially, copying or tracing can work quite well to get an idea on how to go about things. In fact, we all look and idolize particular artists who we think are awesome and wannabe like, we all emulate and get influenced by these people.

    However.

    We do not all claim their or parts of their work as our own creation. That'd not do justice to these people. That's why there's the most awesome expression "credit where credit is due". :) 
     
  15. Rogzilla

    Rogzilla Well-Known Member

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    I have been the victim of Art theft a couple times, both on different ends of the spectrum.

    I once had someone take some lineart I did as just a throw away bit and decided that they wanted to color it. I only found out about it because, after he posted it, he asked me to come look and give him feed back. I told him off for not contacting me BEFORE he touched it, though I would have been fine. He gave me full credit for the line art but I was clearly not the only artist he had borrowed lineart from (but he always gave credit). It was annoying but whatever, something like that directed people towards my Deviant Art page.

    The other instance was when, in the build up to the Dragonball movie, I did a conceptual painting of James Marsters as Piccolo. It turned out to be fairly accurate and was popular in the build up. A few fansites found it and linked back to my page and told people to go there and check out more of my work. GREAT!

    Then, while surfing the net, I found that someone had taken my work and photoshopped it onto a promoshot for the movie that had blocked out Marsters face to keep Piccolo's design a secret. They didn't give me credit and a bunch of people were telling him how great the work was. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to respond because the comments were closed and I couldn't find contact information for the person.

    It is disgusting to know that someone could just blatently steal my work. If I have, for educational purposes, duplicated someone's work, I always give credit to the original work. Of course, I also always do the drawing myself, working through the process and trying to replicate the results by figuring out what the did to get there, a study.

    With that in mind, I can actually share the opposite end of the "art theft accusatory" spectrum. I once posted a sketchbook page filled with studies of Mike Mignola's sketches. I had it written on the page that they were sketches of Mike Mignola's sketches. In my description, I explained what I was doing and that, again, they were studies of work done my Mignola. Then, someone comes out* and accuses me of stealing Mignola's work. I carefully explained to them once again the reason's for my studies, pointed out that I credited Mr. Mignola multiple times and even included my reason's for sharing the study. Alas, they did not find that acceptable, apparently by posting it anywhere, it means I am stating that it is my original work, no matter the plain language I use to the contrary.

    *Not Mignola himself, some goth fangirl of his.
     
  16. TGping

    TGping Well-Known Member

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    Well, Warhol's pieces are considered art because of the intent behind his pieces. In the end intent makes art.

    So the next time you need to ask yourself "why is that art?" Try to guess the artist's intent, something, btw, no one really knows except the artist.
     
  17. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    I just thought I'd throw this in the mix:

    The question isn't whether it's art or not, but rather is it "good" art?
     
  18. Quintesson #1

    Quintesson #1 Eater of Fuzzy Stuff

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    'Good' is a rather 'undefinable concept' though as it's completely subjective. For example, I pretty much hate particular forms of abstract art with a passion for being "lazy man's random bullox any child could do". (Although I guess I hate that people can con people into buying crap more). On the other hand some people think a blue or red piece of canvas is worth millions and who am I to think them wrong?

    IMO this thread is more about when someone's art (or intellectual property) becomes a legal resource (or medium) for someone else to use.


    Or in other words, what falls under "fair use" and what defines originality?

    TGPing does bring up the question of 'why' which from a legal stance is important, as parody is a form of motivation and has different rights from a copy.

    Basically, we're asking in some of these copyright cases, gives the motivation to 'tribute' other art and artists you the right to use their artwork? I personally don't think so, it may be a "non-malintend" (non-profit) motivation, but why should that grant you rights to use things? Or is getting praise for something you compiled already to be considered profit in the sense of an 'unfair ego-boost'? :p 
     
  19. Boggs6ft7

    Boggs6ft7 TFW2005 Supporter

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    I was watching a documentary on hip hop and sampling and a question came up that I thought was legitimate: Why do you have to ask permission to be creative?

    In some cases its a blatant sample with no real thought behind it, but one of the examples they use (and probably the best one) is Danger Mouse's "The Grey Album"

    The album was never sold, you can download it, but no one is making money from it.

    I'm torn both ways. I think giving credit where its due is important, but copying other's work is how many people grow as artists and sometimes they turn into great artists, other times they turn into Greg Land....
     
  20. Quintesson #1

    Quintesson #1 Eater of Fuzzy Stuff

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    The definition of creation is making something that didn't exist before. In other words, one creates something unique and original.

    Sampling is more like editing, there is a creative process, but the starting point isn't from scratch. As such, it's a derivative work, not an original. As you're using someone elses work, it means there is someone who most likely did start from scratch and thus did a lot of work for you already. I'd say that's cause enough for asking permission. Don't you compensate a plumber who did something you profited from (fixed your sink) as well?

    Think of licensing the production of a product like a car. You can't just expect a car company who makes a living of their designs, having invested a lot of resources and funds into R&D and production, to just hand over the plans to some other company just because that other company would like to produce the car in question aswell. If the second company simply uses it, it's industrial espionage: theft. So if you want to built the same product, you're going to have to buy a license (the permission). This legal procedure is there so you have to compensate for the investments made by the other company - whether or not those already made good on their original investment. You're using their work after all and why should you skip that process at no cost? Not just because it's good for you, right?

    Unless you live in China. Then you just make crappy knock-offs en mass (which can actually cause depreciation of the original!). If you copy, sample or edit something, it means the original isn't the only thing out there anymore that has particular features. It means it becomes more standard, less unique. The only thing it'd have going for it is that it's the original, unedited version. But your 'market position' will be weakened. (That's kinda why I don't like coverbands... Do something new like the band you're covering! Especially if those were covering themselves already...).
     

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