Blogging Courtesy

We were taking with some other fansite operators, and there seems to be a large increase of different sites lifting content from our sites and other sites. Some of it may be intentional, other times (in all likelihood) it’s just that people don’t know any better or that they don’t realize the consequences of what they are doing. So we thought we’d do a little informational piece.

Much of our blogging style comes from years of being in the Harry Potter fandom and watching how sites like Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron did it.  We also watched rewards that came their way (like set visits and exclusive interviews) because of the style they used. So much of what we did was adopted from their style. We also learned how to avoid some mistakes by seeing how they dealt with things. That’s not to say we’ve avoided all pitfalls(far from it), but we are grateful to those guys for frankly being the guinea pigs, and learning from them. One of the reasons we’ve never taken any stance on casting is we saw first-hand how contentious that could be (those of you who know the significance of the backlash at Remus Lupin and Sirius Black casting back in the day know what we mean).

So here’s some advice to other bloggers (and those who have currently been lifting content are getting an email). Feel free to send it to those who might need the advice.

1.     Quoting people is cool, but lifting their entire story isn’t. If you quote something state where you got it and link to that primary source.

2.     Limit your quotes to no more than 250-300 words or so, maybe a little more if it’s a very long interview or article. Taking the entire article from another site and then putting “source” with a link to the originating site isn’t fair. Think of it like high school English class when you learned to cite references. Your teacher would have seriously marked your paper down if you had an entire page of someone else’s content, and at the end of that page said where it came from.

3.     Using photos to illustrate your article is great, but don’t take all of them especially if the article you are citing is a photo spread. Take one photo and link back to the main source so that people can see more. If the primary site gives credit to a photographer for the photo be sure and mention that person.  If a site has an exclusive on a photo, than it’s off limits, don’t take it. Talk about it, and link to it, but they have the right to their scoop if they want it.

4.     The exception to all of this is press releases. They can be quoted in full. In fact they’d love it if you didn’t edit them because it’s free PR for them. Press releases usually come directly to you from actors agents, movie studios, companies running events, charities, etc. They are easy to spot because they are actually labeled “Press Release” or “For Immediate Release” and they have full contact info of the team issuing it at the bottom and they are usually accompanied by high resolution graphics. They also tend to be very long and wordy and have tons of background information.

5.     Don’t tag photos unless you took them. You may have put them in a gallery, but they aren’t yours unless you paid for them or took them yourself.

6.     Don’t reload videos on to your YouTube channel.Take for example a site we frequently link to, Collider. Steve from Collider does not region block his videos. He has his own player that loads an ad first and then you can see his interview, feature, or whatever. Steve needs that ad rev to off-set his business expenses. Trust us, air, hotel, meals, etc at a press junket for a film are not cheap! even more baffling is a case when Glamour magazine had footage on their YouTube channel. Why in the world would someone then reload that footage in full. Makes NO sense!

We know, we know… some places you can’t see videos because they are regionally blocked (yes we are eyeballing you MTV) and yes in the age of the Internet and online viral marketing we think region blocking is stupid and short-sighted, ( don’t even get Laura started on that because she can never see Dr. Who features on the BBC UK site) but it is what it is

7.     Bloggers depend on readership and ad revenue. It’s expensive to run a blog particularly one with lots of traffic. Your standard $100 a year GoDaddy site isn’t what we use or entertainment industry bloggers use. We survive off of ad revenue to meet expenses that are upwards of $500 a month just for running the site alone. This doesn’t count software, training, travel expenses to cover events to bring back content, etc. So if people don’t do a reasonable quote and link back, we lose money, and that loss of money prevents us from doing stories.

We’ll give an example. One entertainment blog that we like is Screen Rant. Now we may not agree with every article that Screen Rant puts out there, but we do respect the professionalism behind his site. Vic, the owner of screen rant, just addressed this lifting of material problem on his twitter:

“Here’s the reply you get for a @livejournal member on @ohnotheydidnt who steals your content and you complain”

“calm down. it’s just a post. everyone seemed to have agreed with it. talk to the hand, I’ll delete it, bitch.”

“Nice, huh?”

“@Trillian_01 No, it’s in response to my complaint about them stealing an article from my site.”

“@NomentionofKev Daily, from many sites.”

“@genjadeshade Yes, yes, I’ve heard that excuse before. But SOMEONE runs the site and it plagiarizes content EVERY day.”

Vic isn’t the only entertainment reporter having to deal with this. Eric Dietzen, who like Vic we don’t always agree with but we respect as an entertainment journalist,  over at MTV also Tweeted about this situation:

“What’s worse: a site takes HALF ur reporting/quotes w/o linking to your story or a site takes ALL ur quotes & has tiny LINK at the very end?”

8.     What do you do if you get ripped off.  Personally we opt for the contact the offending site at their publicly stated email address. Most sites that are reputable have a relatively easy to find “contact us” link on their site. Be polite but firm. The person who owns the blog may not realize what one of their employees or volunteer staffers did. If then they don’t fix it, don’t return your emails, or get snotty about it, then we’d go for the calling them out in public and embarrassing them routine. Generally speaking though, it shouldn’t get that far.

We recently had an entertainment site rip off our coverage of the Eclipse Black Carpet. We contacted them and the owner apologized and agreed to talk to the person responsible. He was grateful that we brought it to his attention because the same employee might make the same mistake again.

9.  If you find something other than direct contact from the source, stumbling on it via visiting the main source or via their Twitter, or via a Google Alert that leads directly to that site, give a shout out to the person or site who tipped you off. So if a fan saw it and tipped you off, give them a “Thanks” at the end of your post. If you saw it on another site, either say “Thanks to name of site” or “Via name of site” at the end of your article. It’s not technically mandatory, but it’s a good way of being nice to the neighbors and you never know when you might need them for something! It takes and extra 30 seconds and it’s well worth the effort.

10. Grayish areas: some live awards shows don’t mind if you put their footage up on YouTube. Some mind some years, and not other years. Some TV talk shows have great interview footage to embed right after their show airs on live TV (shout out to Jimmy Kimmel and the Lopez Show for always getting content up by the next morning) others don’t (If someone could drag the Regis and Kelly kicking and screaming show into the 21st century we’d appreciate it. THE Worst video coverage of any live talk show!) Some studios don’t mind their Comic Con footage getting online, others do. For these types of things, they frequently see it as viral PR for their show next year or the show being covered. Best advice we have is use common sense. If they seem to be allowing video, go for it. If they seem to be issuing takedowns, don’t.

The thing that is always off limits is full episodes, full movies, or unreleased items. They might turn a blind eye to one time awards shows or interviews being uploaded to YouTube, but they won’t turn a blind eye to full versions of their material slated for theaters or TV stations. If it’s slated someday for a DVD don’t take it! Whatever you do, DONT upload full movies or TV episodes or you will get sued, it’s copyright violation and a federal offense! Summit Entertainment currently has legal action pending against people who hacked into a server, took and uploaded their material without permission, don’t do it! jail is not worth it.

11. If someone hits you with a C&D, a takedown request, or similar comply with the request. Videos and photos are frequently exclusive copyrite and they don’t want it shared electronically. As for written content, it doesn’t usually come up (assuming you have only taken 250-300 words) unless its magazine scans while the issue is still live on newstands. In that case comply, they have a right to make money off their issue while it is available for purchase. Usually once the issue goes dead ( in other words no longer in newstands) they are ok with a scan, but if they aren’t take it down. If you feel you are not in violation, ask them to explain how specifically you are and what law you are breaking. If they can’t articulate the problem, it may be just a bullying tactic.

12.   In the end, realize that there are consequences to what you run on your blog good and bad. Be able to deal with what your personal choice is. If a news site won’t give you a press release, or they don’t invite you to contribute fan opinion,  maybe it’s because they don’t like your style of coverage. Even if they disagree with you on some things, they’ll tend to respect you if you are fair with how you credit things as stated above.

For example, take Summit Entertainment. Some people accuse us of being a Summit approved site. The only sites Summit has any approval on are their Facebook page, their Twilight Saga page, their other movie pages, and their corporate page. Summit doesn’t tell us what to blog, if they tried that, we’d tell them to stick it you know where. We disagree with them on a regular basis on all sorts of things, but it’s handled privately and professionally in emails. Sometimes they win the discussion point, and sometimes we do. Summit Entertainment probably isn’t really happy when we cover stories on Rachelle LeFevre, they probably didn’t like us giving a less than glowing revue to Step-Up 3D, and they probably would have preferred that we ignored all together anything negative like contract talks or unfortunate comments of directors in the press. However, because of the overall style of our coverage and how we handle issues that are problematic, we enjoy a good relationship.

Websites are like children, unless you are breaking the law, no one should tell you how to handle yours, but realize like the family with the rowdy kids no one can stand, people make judgments about you (fair or not) based on your website and how it appears on a regular basis.

Comments

  1. I say we kick them in the shins. You hold them; I’ll kick them.

    • Twilight_News says:

      Thanks for the offer. I’m hoping the rather pointed email that we just sent to two sites will suffice!

  2. I agree with everything in this article. Normally when I post an article on my Twilight fan website, I normally place a link at the bottom of the article that leads to where I found the information that I am posting. Also I ask copyright permission from all the different media sources for the media player on my website. If I am not granted permission to post it, than I will not post something. I also keep records of those who gave me permission. Also another important point is that someone can revoke their copyright permission at any time for material that you do have permission for. It’s great to see Lexicon’s stance on blogging courtesy. There are some things that I didn’t even know.

    • Twilight_News says:

      Excellent point on the revocation of copyright! Movie houses buy out each others titles or merge. what was OK under a former owner might not be under a new one!

  3. *stands up & applauds*

  4. Thanks for this post! It’s educational and probably also very needed.

    One thing that I’m a bit ambivalent towards is how much to quote. I absolutely understand that you’re supposed to direct some traffic to the original source by only quoting parts of the source. My problem is that if you want the site to be like a catalog of information, not just a news blog, how do you make sure that no information is lost? If you link to an outside source and only quote part of it, what if the source takes down that article, or the source site vanishes altogether?

    I had this issue with a site I ran a long time ago. I had quoted the entire article and linked to the original one. The website contacted me and wanted me to take the article down and just link to them, which I did. Those links don’t work anymore, and I can’t find the articles on their site. I still have the articles saved on my computer, so I can post them if I want to. But my point is: What if I hadn’t saved them? Things get lost in cyberspace all the time, so what do I do if I want to make sure that people will be able to read the article in the future?

    • Twilight_News says:

      I can totally understand what you are saying. I can give you a case in point. We have information in our personal correspondence section that used to be in a MySpace community. When we saw that info come out, we asked permission to archive it to our site and Brittany the owner was gracious enough to let us do that. That Myspace group is now gone ans has been for at least three years, but the point is that we asked rather than just took.

      There’s stuff that I have liked over the years, i’ve gone back and now found it gone(usually fanfic). I’ve learned to copy to my hardrive for personal use anything I really want.

      In fairness to the originators of the content and their economic survival to provide more, you really do have to provide them web traffic which only happens if the whole article is not on another site. Just saying “source” doesn’t give them the traffic if the whole thing has been copied elsewhere.

      • Thanks for your input! I think that could be a good way to solve the problem; to quote the source article, but still always save it just in case something should happen to that website.

        It’s so great that you managed to save that MySpace information, but it can be difficult to ask permission for every single article, if you run a website with a large news flow (not that I do).

    • I hadn’t thought of that but I’ve seen this happen too. The internet is a big space of information but to track down the article that was once up is definitely tough. Good point.

  5. I’m glad you guys wrote this up. I’ve seen many websites that just copy and pastes some stories without giving a link or if they do they add it to the end in small font size. A problem this causes is they will post the whole article or picture spread and link the orig. site but why would people go to the original site when the full article is already in front of them? Anyways good post hopefully people will learn from this!

    • Twilight_News says:

      “site but why would people go to the original site when the full article is already in front of them?”

      Yep exactly, and then that site doesn’t get ad rev, traffic and coverage it deserves!

      Sometimes outlets give exclusive interviews to bloggers with the 10 highest traffic amounts. They have to set the limit some place and webtraffic is an easy determination. Competition is fierce. Taking a story could literally cost your favorite blogger from getting and exclusive that you’d like to read.

  6. twigirl_world says:

    This is VERY good information! I personally know I’ve made some mistakes in my few months of blogging. I will need to make some edits based on this article! I always link but I like to put in my 2 cents on the article. One question I don’t know is what about fans posting pics? All the fans that posted their encounters w/ Robsten I have sourced back and included their tweets but is that something I should worry about?
    THANKS again for a very well written article!!

    • Twilight_News says:

      Excellent question, and don’t beat yourself up on mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn, and none of us is perfect!

      I usually ask a fan if they mind me putting up a photo (even if it is on their on site) because they may be fine w/ it being on their twitpic account and not in a larger site.

      Usually they say yes and if they don’t they usually take the photo down all together because they didn’t realize just how accessible putting something on Twitter could be!

      • I appreciate you asking the fan permission to repost there fan encounters/pictures.

        I’ve submitted a few encounters to different web sites or pictures that have been reposted by several other sites. It would be nice to be asked but I have come to expect it sadly.

        I have had to contact a few sites as to issue credit because it is incorrect. They source the web site they took it from but do not source the author/photographer.

        As a reader, I applaud your efforts in creating a blogging etiquette. I’ve see the ugly side of calling out a blog on twitter or sadly on the websites. A bit messy & I’d rather not be privy to the conflict sometimes.

  7. Thank you so much for the great information on responsible blogging. I learned a lot from it and will be sure to follow your guidelines going further.

    I have a question. There are some articles or bits of information that are relatively short, so it really doesn’t make sense to not post the whole thing. What I have been doing is saying like “Thanks to TwilightLexicon.com for the following information” at the beginning of the post, then put the actual link to your article in the same font size, very noticable, at the bottom. Does that work?

    • Twilight_News says:

      Yeah I have to say something that is really short we struggle with too!

      A really good example of how we handled something like that just came up today. Mike Ausiello on EW got a scoop on Jackson Rathbone having a recurring role on ABC’s No Ordinary Family.

      Mike scooped everyone, no one else had this. And I suspect Mike’s story was brief because he was racing to get it online before someone else did. Kudos to Mike!

      Because I was literally running out the door as I discovered this news this is how I dealt with it. You can compare my direct quote and the link to Michael’s entire article (which was less than 300 words)http://www.twilightlexicon.com/2010/08/28/jackson-rathbone-headed-to-abc-tv-this-fall/

      If I had had more time, I would have done a large article on Jackson’s TV history talking about his Disney background and appearances on Criminal Minds last year. I also would have spoken about how he’s no the only Twilight star heading to TV this fall and mentioned Mike Welch’s upcoming appearance on Criminal Minds. Lastly I probably would have quoted and linked exactly what I did.

      So what I’m trying to say is on a small story, add in your own original intro and conclusion that bring in other info and make the story more interesting.

  8. Thank you sooooooo much. It is so nice that you put this information out for all of us bloggers. I have definately made mistakes in the past with some of this stuff and never really thought about how it affected others. I will definately be a better blogger because of this.

    Thanks again!

  9. Thank you for the informative and educational article. I am still somewhat new to fan sites and never imagined what all went into them and the costs. Thank you for all that work.

    • radiowidow says:

      I can see each day how hard you work on this site, but I also didn’t realize the extent of the work and cost. My thanks to you as well for giving me my daily Twilight fix.

  10. SavyTwilighter says:

    Thank you Lexicon for all the tips. I have just started running a small blog with my friend and I was always worried that I might be doing something wrong. However I did have my own situation with a video I uploaded not to long ago. It was a personal video I had of one of my Twilight cast encounters and within a day 6 other blogs had it up on their site without sourcing me and a few of them had even uploaded the video to their own YouTube channels so that I wasn’t even getting hits there! So rude! Thank you again so much and I will be directing some traffic your way just so others can read this.

  11. SpiderMonkey says:

    Hey! Great article, very helpful, I think it will clear a lot up in the blogging sphere!

    One issue I’m still grappling with is photo shoots that come out as well as pictures that come out of the various actors on sets of films. I know that 99% of the sites I visit are not only putting the pictures up on their pages, but they’ve also got them posted in their galleries. This stuff tends to spread like wildfire, and at the end of the day, it’s sometimes very very difficult to trace back to where the photos originated from.

    I know that asking first is the best policy when it comes to posting stuff, but how would you go about handling a situation like this? I’m not saying “monkey see, monkey do” is a good way to go about this, but I’ve seen quite a few “Summit approved” fansites do this on a regular basis as well.

    • Twilight_News says:

      Photos are definitely the hardest thing ever. There’s a difference between a batch of stills released by a studio vs. a magazine doing a featurette. You bring up an excellent point. I think I’m going to amend the above to cover this.

      If we are talking a magazine spread, usually you can tell because people aren’t in what would typically be a costume or the character’s trademark hairstyle, the take one photo and link thing that we talked about above would apply.

      Now if we are talking studio stills like press releases they are up for grabs. Anyone can have them to do what they want. Studio stills are of the actors in character either a scene from the movie or a behind the scenes talking to the director. Generally speaking studios give an outlet like say EW or MTV or ET 24 hours to be the exclusive source of the image and then after that 24 hours anyone can have it. Other times they just give them out everywhere. How do you know if it’s a 24 hour exclusive? Usually there is a big hype leading to it and it will even say it on the site where the image appears.

      As far as crediting source, do the best you can, and sometimes it’s not possible.

      In some cases photos are leaked early by some careless intern who didn’t think showing the image to her niece would do lead to it spreading like wildfire on the Internet. What happens there is that the image was in finished form and intended for public consumption, just someone who had the rights to post it was careless. The people who had the rights to that image may or may not choose to invoke their copyright rights to the image. If they do invoke their rights they may put out an advisory to the outlets they most frequently deal with letting folks know the images were taken early, or in fact those outlets might beat them to the punch call in saying “what gives, why didn’t I get a heads up on these stills” and then they get told the story. Also, bringing up a side topic, sometimes (rarely) an image is stolen and you have the same situation. For a given blog it legally comes down to plausible denial. If my blog regularly deals with a studio and knows their business practices I’d be hard pressed to run the photos because it’s not reasonable to believe that I didn’t know they were leaked/stolen vs. a smaller blog who doesn’t have that kind of access.

      • What is your sense of how Summit feels about set photos on the Web vs. published articles — newspapers, magazines, books?

        And is that the same policy for screen grabs?

        I have tried to call them before, but they hang up before I get more than one sentence out.

        • Twilight_News says:

          I’m going on past experience here, so don’t take this as official approval. In the past they have been fine with people using their officially released stills (I think we have all the Eclipse ones in our Facebook gallery, feel free to grab anything you want from there). Their “one sheet” posters are usually given to a site for a 24 hour exclusive then after that anyone can have it.

          As far as screen grabs, I haven’t personally seen any trouble with grabs from trailers/teasers or stuff that airs at awards shows. As for grabs off of DVD’s I don’t have a basis to answer that question since I’ve never been aware of a case like that. My inclination would be to not screen grab off the DVD.

          Print items have typically been released after a print issue goes dead. I’m thinking of the New Moon photos that appeared in the print edition on EW.

  12. An alternative idea –

    As the past owner of a very large web site, I can tell you that no one ever denied me permission to use information/links from their site. The reason was I seldom quoted anything. Instead, I summarized and created an introduction that made people want to go to the other site and read.

    For example, the Jackson Rathbone television role:

    I would have said something like, guess who’s going to have a recurring television role this fall? You loved him in Criminal Minds, now he’ll be visiting your living room more frequently.

    Then I would give the hyperlink to the site.

    It’s just as effective and doesn’t cross any lines. Plus, you are able to add in your own color/spin/viewpoint.

    If you learn a web site is going to be taken down, and it has information you would like to use, you can often make a deal with the owner to host that information with a special introduction. I combined several web sites into my own. In that instance, I took the entire article and pictures and left them untouched. I simply put them onto my server with my thanks.

  13. Twilibrarian says:

    ,

  14. Twilibrarian says:

    Thanks for the informative article. I have a couple more comments, and then I’ll be quiet.

    1. Thank you for maintaining this site for us. I know it is expensive, and you probably didn’t want to start a fundraiser, but will you take donations? (I’m serious, ladies!):-)

    2. Cutting and pasting is not only harmful ;-( for bloggers and webmasters (like you ladies!) it is so common place in schools that we teachers cannot keep up with it. It’s a shame we are all in such a hurry to get the word out, or in the case of some students, get the work done.

    Comment # 13 above – I sneezed and hit submit!

  15. daisyduck says:

    This was so interesting. Blogging is a lot more complicated than I had ever thought!

    I so agree about the regional blocking of online video. The BBC site is a tricky one because the BBC is entirely funded by the British taxpayer through an annual television license fee (£145 or $218) that all adults have to pay, so there are lots of rules set by the government about what they are allowed to do with their content. I think it has to do with them selling their programmes on to other countries and not wanting them to watch for free online like we can, because we paid our license fee.

    If it’s any comfort, we can’t watch most of the online MTV stuff and nothing on Hulu. I watch lots of American tv via “alternative” methods. I feel bad, but I’m too impatient to wait 2 years for US shows to reach my shores legally!

  16. That was a really helpful article. I’ll keep it in mind if I ever decide to run a blog of my own. Thank you so much, girls!

  17. thanks for the advice i am a fan of Twilight Lexicon and a few other Twilight sites, I also run my own blog covering Twilight and House of night as i love them both and its really just to share news with my own friends who are like minded, but i have created some wallpapers in the past which i didnt tag (facepalm) and oter people were adding them into their own galleries and blogs and passing them off as their own, luckily i was able to add a comment and kindly stated they were mine and could they be sourced. i am relatively new to this game but i have always sourced material and put a lot of effort in like all you guys do. obviously there is a lt more at stake for you guys as you need the revenue and also are then able to provide exclusive content from conventions etc. i wouldnt have a clue how to make money off my blog, i just do it for fun and in my spare time between my step kids and a full time job. but Twilight is my life and a total escape from reality for about 2 hours a day LOL great job as always girlies

  18. maravilhoso… Nunca vi site tão bom quanto esse, obrigada pela informação! Eu amo a saga!
    http://www.clubedeautores.com.br/book/29361–O_segredo_de_Emma_Sulivan

  19. Thank you for posting this, I knew most of it but some of the information I never really thought of. Very informative and if I keep my blog I’ll make sure to follow all of this.

  20. Great Post.

    I am guilty of a few things – mainly because I get lazy…

    like when I post youtube videos I will thank who ever sent me the link but if I found it searching I don’t link – because if you click the video it links you to the youtube source… this is just laziness but I don’t find it “wrong” because it is easy to find source if you click the video… same with heavily tagged photos

    for example if I found photos on site A and they are heavily tagged by site B i will link my via (I always link my via) but sometimes not the original because #1 – it’s tagged heavily and #2 – it’s linked at my VIA… make sense? Again I am being lazy LoL

    I have had dozens of my photos taken and used without credit or link or anything – so I understand frustrations… on the flip side I have had people tag photos that they didn’t take – or aren’t their property… just because you scan a magazine doesn’t make it YOURS – unless you either take the photo, creatively put together an image or have the permission to tag it – DONT!!!

    There are tons of blogging courtesy rules i think honestly people just don’t know them – I know this post taught me a few things and I have been actively blogging for a while…

    Thanks for the post ladies xo

  21. Oops, I’m guilty of some of these things, mainly the photos/ pictures. The thing is, I have my own personal blog, which isn’t dedicated to a certain book series or movie or anything, so everything is just sort of all over the place, and because it’s personal, I don’t want to make it less personal by sourcing every single thing I find on the net. Hopefully that’s understandable.

  22. D. Conway says:

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to use your rules for my page. I’ll have to change the wording a bit to better fit our subject but what you have written is invaluable. I’ll be sure to credit you and put a link.

    Debra

  23. Thank you for this! I just started a blog because I just have too much to say in one place. I really appreciate these guidelines.

  24. Thank you for these excellent guidelines. We should all be so courteous!

  25. Your site is pretty cool to me and your subject matter is very relevant. I was browsing around and came across something you might find interesting. I was guilty of 3 of them with my sites. “99% of blog managers are guilty of these five errors”. http://tinyurl.com/7dtdnz9 You will be suprised how fast they are to fix.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] at shadowkissed.com we stick to Twilight Lexicons guidelines for blogging courtesy, but it appears that a number of site owners have no courtesy or respect at [...]

  2. [...] When we first started we looked to http://www.twilightlexicon.com for advice and found that their guidelines to blogging courtesy were exactly what we needed. The ultimate point to their guidelines is to give credit where credit [...]

  3. [...] seen this process play out firsthand in the Twilight fansite community, and the Twilight Lexicon has addressed this issue previously with a fantastic and comprehensive post about blogging [...]

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