Allow me to dig up the old story about the activation system that is part of Mass Effect and is destined for Spore. The rumor was that you could only “activate” the game three times. Before launch they said this:
And now that they have your money they say this:
The Slashdot thread on this is still smouldering a little, but I didn’t see anything there we didn’t cover here a hundred times already. I am happy to see the outrage spread, though. Just remember, you agreed to the poisoning when you installed the product.
Tell me one more time: Which side is the thieves and which side is the people just protecting their investment? Because I can’t remember now.
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57 thoughts on “Mass Effect: Three Strikes”
Time Playing games : 26 Years
Games bought : All (100+)*
Games pirated : 2**
* Until the DRM insanity with Bioshock & Mass Effect
** Bioshock & Mass Effect
*sight* Well, if something can really be learned out of all this mess:
These people cannot be trusted. If a company does not show you any trust, then it will betray you and screw you over hard.
(peoples, I feel your pain)
The Free Software movement has taken a principled stand against DRM. Freeloaders like Nokia are currently complaining about this, calling FS leaders “zealots” while profiting off the fruits of their labor.
Slowly, very slowly, people are learning why DRM is always bad for users. But at the same rate, they are learning to accept it. It will only be in hindsight, years from now, that most people will remember what things used to be like when you owned things that you bought.
time spent playing games:9 years
games bought: way too many to count
games pirated technically 3, but two were dead and out of print, while the other was basically a leaked demo that was released free yesterday
i’d say that which group is the theives is on a case-by case basis. people ripping off games they did not buy are theives. people insisting you pay them again because some automated system generated your key and used it to steal the game are also theives
Well, whose predictions came true, and whose predictions were clearly a pack of lies that would make a used car salesman proud?
Yeah. Next verse, same as the first, corporate style and a little bit worse.
Their fault for not going Digital Distribution. I bought from Direct2Drive. I can install it as many times as I like, because it doesn’t have SecurROM on it – it works similar to Steam, in that you authenticate a particular code with D2D’s servers when you start.
D2D and Steam have gotten to the point where they’re trustable as resources for gamers… and I’m happy to trust them.
DVD’s, Blu-Ray, retail sales – it’s dead.
When is someone going to get around to putting up a serious legal challenge to the concept of “licensing” instead of buying software? Barring that…when is someone going to get around to putting up a serious legal challenge to EULAs, which you can’t read until you’ve already bought the software, opened the package, inserted the disk and started the installation?
How can a contract be legally binding if I had to purchase the product BEFORE I could read it? And then if I don’t agree I can’t even return the product and get a refund because I’ve opened the package and have had the opportunity to copy the media and license key.
EDIT: I found this while searching…I like the concept a Software Vendor License Agreement, which puts the onus on the vendor rather than the user. Has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being adopted, though, which the author admits.
It’s times like this I think back to the punchline of this Dilbert comic.
How do I feel about DRM? “Rage, same as always.”
How can a contract be legally binding if I had to purchase the product BEFORE I could read it? And then if I don't agree I can't even return the product and get a refund because I've opened the package and have had the opportunity to copy the media and license key.
That is very very good ground, but you will never have ennough money to beat their lawyers.
Jeremiah: I think this one is more appropriate http://www.dilbert.com/2006-06-05/
I will have to get myself some investigatory shoes and look into ELUA’s in the UK legal system, and certainly see what kind of stuff this DRM goes against lawfully.
Ahh well, I won’t be picking up Mass Effect any time soon I guess. I suppose Dragon Age will be exactly the same too. Spore as well :(
I essentially feel no compulsion to follow license agreements. None.
Why? Because they feel no compulsion to give me a fair and legal way to review it before purchase or to return the software if I refuse to accept it. Therefore, I don’t feel that the license agreement is binding on me.
Here’s my standard procedure with all games: Buy game, install game, install nocd hack/crack/patch, put cd in protective case, put case on shelf, play game. If I need anything to remove checks for validity, etc, I will do it with no compunctions whatsoever, because I don’t care.
I just want to play the game.
I think that it’s just silly to expect me to do anything else. The only thing I agree to when I buy a game is to not try to repackage the game as if I where the original publisher and make a ton of money off it (and similar things). In other words, I’m not going to try to make money off someone else’s hard work unless they tell me I can in the license (open source being the exception, in which case I make the source changes available, etc). But I have no problems sharing a game with one or two friends, or anything like that.
Why? Because I treat games like I treat books. I do everything with games that I do with books (perhaps a bit more, since copies are more easily made). My argument is simple: if I like a game well enough to play it for more than a couple hours, I’ll buy it (and my friends will too). Otherwise, it’s not worth it. Demos are sometimes enough, sometimes not. It all depends.
I’m a dirty pirate, and mostly happy about that. Mass Effect is the first Bioware release I didn’t buy. I have absolutely loved all their earlier games, and and pre-ordered this one as well.
The rumors about upcoming draconian DRM got me to cancel my order. Being less scrupulous about that and still wanting to get to play the game I naturally pirated it, which is easy.
The game is excellent. Everything I expected for a Bioware release. Something I would definitely feel bad about downloading off the Pirate Bay instead of buying, were it not for the spectacularly stupid DRM.
Ok, dirty old me. I should buy the game if I’m going to play it, but meditate on this for a while – I do own all their earlier games. All of them bought from a retail store with real money, all of whom I could have pirated already but didn’t. I sure would like to have Mass Effect in my bookshelf as well, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for something I would still have to get from Pirate Bay.
I’d rather think I’m not a lost sale because of how easy it’s to pirate the game but because of how hard EA made it to be a paying customer.
LazerFX, I’m not sure whether or not Mass Effect on D2D had these restrictions, but other games I’ve bought from them definitely had only a limited number of times you could download and activate them, and they didn’t warn you before you bought them.
So my guess is your copy of Mass Effect has the same restrictions.
Maybe it’s just the rose-tinted glasses, but the days of cartridges were much better. The only problem with playing the game was occasionally cleaning the dust out of it.
I probably would’ve gone on and bought Mass Effect, sometime around the time I got a PC capable of running it. I’m a huge fan of KotOR, and I’ve been waiting for an RPG that not only has semi-explicit sex, but doesn’t shy away from alternative sexual preferances, either.
Then I heard about the DRM. It is, frankly, beyond draconian, it’s insane. It’s like they hired a pack of Ferengi for their legal department. There’s no reason for me to buy. Normally, I buy because (1) I want the game, (2) pirated versions don’t always work right (the one game I ever did pirate that wasen’t abandonware I wound up buying outright – here’s lookin’ at you, Halo), (3) I generally support the right of the game’s designers to make money.
All of that, in my opinion, stops when the game’s publishers stop treating me like a paying customer and pre-emptively treat me like a criminal. If I’m going to be treated like a criminal regardless of whether I pay my dues and my money to purchase a copy, I may as well ACTUALLY do a bit of crime and get much more satisfaction out of it.
If I go into Borders and throw down money to buy a copy of a book, that copy is MINE. Mine to do with as I please – to read, to give away, to enjoy, to hate, to wipe my arse with and set on fire if it’s bad enough. I’m not going to buy a book which has an internet-controlled maglock ‘activation key’ on it which will prevent the book’s covers from opening if the company dosen’t like me, dosen’t like the alignment of the planets, or dosen’t like the fact that it’s Tuesday.
I’ll be damned if I’ll tolerate the same for a video game. I am not paying $60 for a REGISTRATION CODE. I might pay $60 for a copy of a video game that is *mine to keep and do with as I please, full stop.*
Oh well. The more EA tightens their grip, the more paying customers will slip through their fingers – let’s face it, the pirates are hocking a better product. It’s the same product, but without all the frustration. It used to be that you pirated a game if you were dirt broke, and dealt with the frustrations inherant in piracy, such as patches generally not working. Now it’s gotten to the point that the pirates are offering cheaper (free!) identical product with LESS frustration, for the sole niggling drawback that it is in fact technically illegal. There’s something fundamentally flawed with EA when the only thing they can offer over the pirates is “um, doing it with us is legal” and they treat you like you’re the pirate in any event.
I wonder if they’ll ever figure that out, or will they keep masturbating Madden and FIFA’s console-based corpses until they go bankrupt? I’d like to see that.
And the industry wonders why consoles are gaining in popularity among what was once a hardcore PC crowd.
Skip: I think D2D does limit on some games the number of times you can download it, but generally you’re downloading an installer package, which you can back up if you want to. That’s better than most download services which download integrated data files that aren’t stand-alone installations.
I’ve bought two games on there, and they had download limits (3 or 5 times or something) but not activation limits that I’m aware of. I just burned the installers to DVD and haven’t gone back. They are nice enough to store my license key for me, though, so at least I have a backup of that if I lose it.
I think the download limits are more forgivable than the activation limits, as long as the installer is able to be backed up and run again regardless of whether D2D is still alive in a year.
OK, checking on D2D’s faq it says:
How many licenses or activations do I get?
All licensing has a limit to the number of simultaneous activation to protect the product. However our customer service will see to it that should you encounter a need for more licenses that you are accommodated.
So that certainly seems to imply otherwise, and matches what I remember buying from them. It was annoying enough that I won’t buy from them in the future unless there’s no choice, and instead will buy from Steam.
Thanks for the initial heads-up when you told everyone about the original DRM. I was on the edge about getting it because it was a console port. What really depresses me is that I’ve been lurking on the Dragon Age forum waiting for that game to come out. I was going to buy it sight unseen until now. This has really depressed me. AAA PC gaming is dead. I wish it was easier to find good indie games.
I’m completely unsurprised by this, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that anyone who WAS surprised by it is a fool. Frankly, the “case-by-case” should have tipped everyone off…
Damn, that’s just evil. Can we assume getting “unauthication” still doesn’t properly work?
It’s a shame though, because Mass Effect is pretty good. I bet you won’t be believe it, but I’ve actually had to fight the urge to buy it. Supporting secuROM and getting a product worse than my pirated version just couldn’t justify trying to support the developer.
I ended up buying an XBox 360 before Mass Effect came out because it was supposedly going to be a 360 exclusive. So seeing as how I already own it, I don’t feel like buying it again.
LazerFX: “D2D and Steam have gotten to the point where they're trustable as resources for gamers… and I'm happy to trust them.”
Lots of fans trusted Major League Baseball with online distribution. They got screwed. People trusted Google with online distribution. They got screwed. (In Google’s case, they got refunds, but they didn’t want refunds. They wanted the videos they paid for.) People trusted Circuit City to keep supporting Divx. They got screwed. People trusted freaking Microsoft to let them access their “PlaysForSure” music and got screwed. (In the PlaysForSure case, Microsoft has granted a temporary stay of execution.)
If you can’t trust corporate giants like Google, Microsoft, and Major League Baseball, why should I trust D2D and Steam? Trusting any corporation to do anything not explicitly written down is foolish. Are you sure that in few years EA won’t buy Steam off Valve for a huge bucket of money, run it into the ground in stupid cost-cutting measures, then decide to terminate the service because no one buys new content for it anymore?
My only question in all of this,
How in the world does any reasonable person pretend that canceling services that are in a license agreement with no refund count as legal?
If I order something from a catalogue and it says that I will receive it in 1-2 weeks and it comes to that 14th day and they haven’t called me then I sue them if they don’t call me, and I can cancel my order for a full refund if it takes longer than promised.
How is this so different? I enter a contract with them, they break it, I can now sue unless they make amends. I don’t sue people, but I would want the opportunity, and this isn’t frivolous, they stole from me.
Anybody know if the EFF would be willing to take a crack at this? It seems like just the thing that would be up their alley…..
Hey, could someone link the Mass Effect EULA? I’m a law student, and I’d kinda like to read it for my own amusement. Maybe I’ll even think of a way to legally challenge it. :-)
6th post down is the start of the EULA, and continues for several posts.
NO way in bleeping heck would I buy a game that limits me to 3 installs.
And, the cracks work now, all that DRM and junk only hurts those who pay.
That’s all I got to say.
I think the largest problem here is that quite a few people who made noise still bought the product.
Yelling and screaming won’t solve anything. Refusal to give them your money will.
First, disclaimer: I am a law student, but not a lawyer, and nothing I say should constitute anything other than my personal opinion and should not be acted upon in any.
Okay, having now read the Mass Effect EULA, and ignoring the Microsoft DirectX Supplement, a couple of things strike me (many of which have been stated elsewhere by others).
First, the EULA has no refund clause or any statement to the effect that your should return the product if you don’t agree to the EULA. It does say (2nd paragraph) that if you don’t agree to the EULA, then don’t install the program, but this is the sort of provision that begs for a legal challenge since it doesn’t really give any remedy to the purchaser.
So, if you are not presented with the EULA until after your purchase, then you should be able to request rescission of the purchase contract (i.e. a refund) on general contract law principles. However, if you purchased the game through a third-party retailer, then there are ways that the retailer could try to get out of that–e.g., by arguing that your acceptance or rejection of the EULA wasn’t a condition (or even something they cared about) for your purchase contract with the retailer.
That leaves purchasing directly from EA. Now, if you can purchase Mass Effect directly from EA, and they show you the EULA prior to your handing over the money, then you probably won’t have much of a leg to stand on when you request rescission of the purchase contract on the grounds that you do not agree with the EULA.
However, if you purchase Mass Effect from EA, and only after purchase see the EULA, then it would seem you’d have a very good reason to request a refund on the grounds that you don’t agree to the EULA. If EA refuses to give you one, then you have the option of suing for breach of contract. Though keep in mind if you do so it would be a “principle of the thing” lawsuit that would probably cost you a fair amount of money to pursue and net you, as best, a moral victory (and more likely a settlement with a non-disclosure agreement).
Of course, there’s always the option of violating the EULA in a way that does not violate copyright law and trying to get EA to sue you for it, and then arguing that the EULA is void on its face or because of the way it was presented. But this route would also cost a lot of money and put you in the position of being sued for damages by a large corporation. Which would suck.
Sorry that was so rambling. I at least hope that someone found it interesting/useful.
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at whatever meeting they decided this….
…good thing I didn’t buy this yet. I was going to rush out and buy it, then realized I can’t run it, and that was the only reason I held off.
Guess now I won’t be buying it. I’ll still play it, but, well then…
An I am still surprised for the shear futility of all this. I mean, what's the point of putting more locks on your door, when all the thieves are climbing in through the window?
I just had a mysteriously “Mass Effect” moment. I’d purchased a book for a class I’m taking that includes a CD-ROM supplement. So as I’m breaking the perforation on the disk holder (which disqualifies the book from being returned, by the way), I see a little warning: “DO NOT INSTALL CD-ROM until you have read the enclosed Software License Agreement. Breaking this seal legally obligates you to the terms of that agreement.” To clarify, I can’t read the agreement without breaking the seal. Hah! Hilarious.
I recall glancing at Sierra’s EULA that they actually, right at the start, have a refund clause for if you don’t agree with the EULA. So at least someone’s considered that hey, agreements after the sale MIGHT be a bit harsh.
Not that agreements are legally binding (I looked for a case basis but couldn’t find one).
Edit: I was actually thinking of buying this. But nope. If I feel like playing it it’s off to the pirate forges of quality DRM free products!
I recall an old Dilbert comic that was perfect for this. I have no idea what date it was, so I can’t find it, but in it Dilbert remarks that he always feels like he’s going to be shot for opening a software package and agreeing to the EULA. The EULA says something about the company having the right to strip-searching you to prove that you’re not stealing it. Dilbert opens it. Somebody with rubber gloves and a flashlight appears and says “We both would’ve been happier if you’d just returned the software to the store.”
If anybody has a clue what date that was, I’d like to know. It was funny…
The thievery started when your right to return a game that sucked was taken away and replaced with “if the shrink wrap is cut, you can’t return it.”
If copyright infringement is “theft” then so is taking away basic consumer rights.
The industry wouldn’t be able to release buggy copy prevention schemes, nor would dare, if there was a simple honoring of the implied warranty of “fitness of purpose.”
Ive been lurking here and following the DRM rants for a couple weeks now, and I have to say I can hardly believe any group of sentient humans could possibly be retarded enough to implement this kind of protection scheme.
While reading this I kind of had a thought about how to avoid the DRM and still not feel any kind of moral anguish. Why not download a pirate copy and then mail a $30 check to bioware or maxis or whoever the original developer was?
In other words, screw the man while still supporting the developers. Just a random thought.
Some kind of law that software can’t be sold without the EULA being signed would probably do away with the things in no time.
Write your politician! He/she/it can’t be getting all THAT much from the video game industry.
Hmm, I’d guess that the having to sign the EULA wouldn’t slow down the software industry much–they’d probably slip in a clause allowing for electronic signature (which is pretty much what you’re doing when you click “I accept”).
(Just a note as to my background. As I alluded to before, I just finished law school, and am currently studying for the VA bar. I am NOT a lawyer).
As for the Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose, under the Uniform Commercial Code, that type of implied warranty generally only applies when you physically tell a seller “I’m going to engage in X activity,” and ask the seller’s advice regarding whether the goods you’re considering buying would work for the activity you intend to engage in, and the seller has to say yes. So, overall, that’s a lot of things you have to prove.
Moreover, most of your EULAs will disclaim both the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose in their EULAs, at least to the extent allowed by applicable state law.
An even bigger problem is that both of your implied warranties are for transactions of “goods,” and software companies do their utmost in their EULAs to have their software sales defined as “services.” I’ve seen several EULAs specifically say that they are giving you a “service,” as differentiated from a physical good.
And on top of that, the usage of the form of the “license agreement” for software “sales” means that you are NOT actually purchasing anything, other than a “right” to use a product which you do not own (though you would be considered as owning the physical media (e.g., CDs) on which the software was distributed, just not the contents of those media, in the eyes of the software company, which is trying to protect its copyright). This is the perspective of the software company you’re buying the software from.
Apparently the DRM on Bioshock has been removed:
No word on Mass Effect.
Kylroy (42): “Apparently the DRM on Bioshock has been removed”
Not entirely. If you read down, SecuROM still remains. Only the activation limit was lifted.
It is only the first step. (A good first step, but a first step nevertheless.) SecuROM still needs to be buried in a 43-foot hole in the ground.
Bioshock still has 99% of it’s DRM. You are now allowed to re-install it as often as you like. Provided you activate it every time. And have the DVD in the drive. And dance the hokey-pokey.
May I curse? Or link to a ME torrent? They are abundant, and any google search will yield results. It’s just ridiculous.
I always get to these a day late. Anyway, what’s really sad about all this?
A friend at work actually bought Mass Effect. She had to bring her gaming PC into the office to authenticate as she doesn’t have an internet connection at home. I therefore got to play it a little and it’s truly awesome.
I’m in the same boat as everyone here and have effectively stopped gaming on the PC. Too much hassle. Too expensive. I’ll shortly be upgrading my PS2 to a PS3. I’m a developer and when I feel like a little gaming entertainment I just don’t want hassles with authentication, drivers, patches, bleuch! I just want to play!
Maybe I’ll just get my trusted old C64 out of retirement :)
June 20th, 2008 at 12:45 am
Apparently the DRM on Bioshock has been removed:
No word on Mass Effect.
No it hasent. Read post 8 on the above link and you will see the following.
Our other methods of copy protection remain. You will still have to activate your copy, and you will still need to keep the disc in the drive. SecuROM has not been removed — just the activation limits on number of installs and number of computers you can install BioShock on simultaneously.
Until I can purchase a copy of the game from the store that does not require activation and does not require the download of the exe file during install to play then I will not be purchasing this or Mass Effect ever.
The worst part about this is that they’re killing their future. Either my generation, or the generation after mine, will have no real experience buying games because there won’t be any games (mainstream–niche games are not by and large part of the gaming culture) worth buying. The entirety of “gaming” will be “download it off the internet”, and the idea of buying a game will be anathema–not because it costs money, but because you pay money and have to live with some sort of quantum uncertainty about whether the game will actually work the next time you fire it up or install.
So if game developers don’t wise up soon it might just be too late. They’ll be trying to attract a generation who grew up with zero tolerance or game developers, despite their love of games. How successful do you think “We’ve changed, no really!” is going to be as a way to get these people to go back to buying games, even if the games are no longer crippled by anti-customer nastiness? Hint: not very.
Maybe I’m missing something, but what’s wrong with only being to install it three times? Possibly only on three computers? I mean, by the time I get around to the third install, I hope I’ve beaten the game already. It’s only a matter of time until the protection is whittled down to normal amounts, and there ARE cracks if you need to use them. Unless this turns out to be like BG2 for me, which I install about three times a year, I don’t quite see the problem. Perhaps it’s just that I haven’t played any games with this irritating system, but when they removed the ten-day checks, the most bothersome thing disappeared for me.
No matter how irritating the copy patrol scheme, until it requires me light myself on fire and then place my ashes on a DNA scanner to confirm my identity, it not be as annoying as torrenting an 11GB ISO. Since my computer will not be ready to play the game for a few months, I will be missing all the really nice speeds, which would make the download a very long, painful, slow, wait.
While I hope to see this kind of paranoid protection system become an unfortunate page in the history of video games, it just isn’t bad enough to make me stop playing a game. These are the closest things video games give to taxes, and they just aren’t all that high yet.
*shakes his head in disgust and dismay at the villain that is EA* If I wasn’t such a diehard fan and supporter of Bioware, I wouldn’t touch ME with a 10 foot pole while wearing a hazmat suit. As it stands, I still want to support Bioware and their team of talented developers, so I bought the game anyway, but it’s cracked .EXE ahoy from here on out.
@Prattor – A game that does not offer any replay ability is not worth buying in my book. Therefore I tend to install my games multiple times (Space is finite after all) and play them though again.
If the publisher/developer goes out of business the protection system will never be “whittled down”, you will just be left with a disc that you can not activate.
If you purchase a game you expect to be able to install it whenever wherever you are and not have to worry about whether some server somewhere has decided you need to purchase another copy. If I was renting it I would expect to pay Â£3 or something close to that not Â£30!!!
As far as I’m concerned the only “protection” that is acceptable is a serial number for multiplayer and the same serial allows you to download patches. (E.g. Sins of a Solar Empire). Anything else is just inconveniencing me, and costs the developer more to implement than it saves in sales.
I should not have to crack games that I have legally bought. (Although I do if they require the CD in the drive)
I don’t have Internet access at home therefore even things like Steam are a no no for me. (Not that I like it you can only download and install it if we say so (although I have no problem with it as a purchase and distribution platform))
No one had to buy a new game. They’ve clarified that the message was mis-written by a person who didn’t know what measures were being put in the activation situation.
Furthermore, Bioshock has now removed their activation limit entirely.
Unless this turns out to be like BG2 for me, which I install about three times a year, I don't quite see the problem.
You’re saying basically that it’s not a problem because you think it might suck?
That’s not the issue that has been discussed, it’s the fact that after buying something you may not be able to use it.
(As an aside, I’ve installed BG2 on four computers at least two dozen times now. I’ve never gotten past Chapter 3, as I burn out doing every sidequest possible first.)
While the activation limit was a bit of a sticking point, and remains so, the rest of the copy production, such as the use of SecuRom, is part of the main thrust against DRM.
Because they’re still installing a superfluos program that exists for the sake of monitoring your system, which cannot be removed by conventional means, which is not automatically removed whe the game is removed, and ultimately, is there for the purpose of monitoring existing, legitimate customers.
Related to DRM:
“Removed the protection on Bioshock for PC. As Ken Levine promised” [Apologize for the literal translation]:
I am shocked and appalled that EA would treat their customers like this. Like dirt. And here I was thinking they were a kinder, gentler company with a good understanding of how to run a business, and how to treat customers with some modicum of respect and-
Man, sarcasm is hard on the internet. =/
I like Graudog’s idea of sending money directly to the developer, but by downloading it you’d only be strengthening piracy, and thus strengthening the “need” for publishers to “protect” their “investments”(any company that needs this many quotation marks around what they do, provide, support or inflict upon the customer probably shouldn’t be legal). Plus, I get the feeling the publisher would manage to “intercept” any money sent towards the developer anyway. This is EA we’re talking about, after all. Even if Bioware obtained any currency I’d send them, I think EA would just sort of absorb it through osmosis or something.
Sounds like a pretty good reason to get a pirated copy after you install it three times.
Since this appears to be the most recent post talking about Mass Effect’s DRM (at least directly), this seemed like the place to bring it up:
Apparently Mass Effect, Spore, and several other games are now showing up on Steam. It’s been announced that they don’t use the SecuROM activation at all, just the standard Steam stuff. This does of course still mean that there’s an online activation, though, so this is half a loaf. But I’m still more comfortable with Steam’s design than SecuROM’s.
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