TODAY'S TOP STORY: Liza Womack, the mother of rapper Lil Peep - who died of a drug overdose while on tour in 2017 - says that newly unsealed documents prove that her son’s management company, First Access Artists, should be help liable for his death... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES Lil Peep's mother argues that newly unsealed evidence proves management's negligence in relation to rapper's death
LEGAL ODB estate sues Wu-Tang Productions over unpaid royalties
Majors hit back at latest attempt by Cox to overturn billion dollar copyright ruling

DEALS Sting sells publishing catalogue to Universal
INDUSTRY PEOPLE The Great Escape launch new award in honour of the agent Steve Strange
RELEASES Tess Roby announces new album, Ideas Of Space
ONE LINERS Ed Sheeran & Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj & Lil Baby, Fred Again & India Jordan, more
AND FINALLY... Kanye West refuses to play Coachella until Billie Eilish apologises to Travis Scott
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Lil Peep's mother argues that newly unsealed evidence proves management's negligence in relation to rapper's death
Liza Womack, the mother of rapper Lil Peep - who died of a drug overdose while on tour in 2017 - says that newly unsealed documents prove that her son's management company, First Access Artists, should be help liable for his death.

A collection of evidence spanning nearly 400 pages was published by the Los Angeles Superior Court last month, after First Access unsuccessfully argued for seven pages of that evidence to be sealed.

The seven pages included text messages from 2017 that were sent by tour manager Belinda Mercer to colleagues after she was found with illegal substances in her bag when Peep's tour bus was stopped at the Canadian border weeks before his death.

Womack and her legal team argue that these texts, and other newly published evidence, support their claim that the rapper was provided with and urged to take drugs by his team.

When First Access sought to keep some of the evidence sealed last October, Womack's lawyers wrote in response, according to Pitchfork: "These seven pages help tell the story of the drug-infected mismanagement that is part of [Womack's] central narrative and led to her son's death. What these documents mostly contain are exchanges that reveal [First Access] tour management as dangerous, discordant, inept, and engaged in conduct that contributed to [Peep]'s death".

Lil Peep, real name Gustav Åhr, died in November 2017 of an accidental drugs overdose, aged 21. In her 2019 lawsuit, Womack accused First Access and its associates of negligence and other breaches of contract that contributed to her son's death.

She said that the management firm "allowed, normalised, and even encouraged and promoted" drug taking on her son's tours, despite being aware of his addiction issues.

And, she also alleged, when Åhr told his management team that touring was making him ill, "defendants ignored these cries for help and instead pushed decedent onto stage after stage in city after city, plying and propping decedent up with illegal drugs and unprescribed controlled substances all along the way".

While First Access denies many of the specific allegations contained in Womack's lawsuit, its response to her legal filing in December 2019 focused more on matters of law than matters of fact.

Specifically, Womack's claim that First Access and its associates are liable for the 'tort' of negligence fails, they argued, "because Mr Åhr's relationship with [the company] was a business relationship governed by a contract that barred tort claims, and because these defendants did not owe an independent duty of care to Mr Åhr, breach such a duty, or cause his death".

Meanwhile, the additional breach of contract claims "likewise fail as a matter of law", the management firm added.

According to the newly published evidence, Mercer sent a WhatsApp message to a colleague after being detained at the Canadian border in 2017, saying that it was "the most mortifying experience of my life". She later wrote: "Bottom line is that I am so sorry and embarrassed about it all ... It was a huge mistake and will never happen again".

In a deposition in September last year, Mercer was asked about her detention at the Canadian border and she confirmed that "illegal substances" had been found in her bag and elsewhere on the tour bus.

She also said that she had paid a $2000 fine, but did not specify the reason for this. And on a number of occasions, when asked about illegal drugs, she relied on her Fifth Amendment rights under the US constitution to decline to answer in order to avoid self-incrimination.

Nonetheless, in the deposition, she did confirm that Peep had asked her for drugs many times, and that they had texted about ketamin in October 2017.

However, she pleaded the Fifth when asked about Venmo payments sent to a man named Riley Fatch in November 2017, which were listed as being for "bus maintenance" and "bus restock", despite Fatch not working for her or being a member of tour crew. Fatch was later arrested on drugs charges but died in 2019.

In a statement to Pitchfork about the recently published evidence - and attempts by the defence to seal some of it - an attorney for Womack, Paul Matiasic, said: "The vigour with which [First Access] and Mercer fought to shield this information from the public record speaks volumes as to the inculpatory nature of these text messages".

Womack is pushing for a jury trial in the case. Meanwhile, First Access is seeking a summary judgement in its favour. At a hearing yesterday to consider this motion, the court said that it "will need additional time to consider the various filings in this case", saying that a new date will be set to deliver a ruling.


ODB estate sues Wu-Tang Productions over unpaid royalties
The widow of Ol Dirty Bastard - Icelene Jones - is suing Wu-Tang Productions, claiming that it has "wilfully refused" to pay the ODB estate at least $1 million in royalties stemming from the late rapper's solo recordings and his work with Wu-Tang Clan.

The lawsuit, which was filed in New York earlier this week, claims that the label - owned by Wu-Tang leader RZA - has failed to pay out proper royalties or provide accounts for more than ten years, instead making occasional payments without any real information on what they relate to.

It says that ODB's agreement with Wu-Tang Productions prior to his death in 2004 stated that he would receive 50% of any publishing income from his work, while 50% of net recordings income would be shared between the artists appearing on each track. Recordings income was meant to be paid within 45 days of receipt by the label, with publishing income paid twice yearly. The deal also gave ODB the right to audit the company's accounts.

"Despite its repeated efforts and requests, the estate has been unable to obtain payments and accountings from defendant under the recording agreement for the sale of Wu-Tang Clan recordings and ODB recordings since at least 2011", says the filing.

In a statement given to Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for the ODB estate adds: "This is not an attack on Wu-Tang Productions Inc, but a last legal resort we have had to pursue after being denied and ignored on this matter for over ten years".

"The estate will randomly receive partial cheques such as the one sent for $130,000 in July of 2021 from Wu-Tang Productions", they continue. "But without financial records, we have no indication of the exact amount the estate is still owed. It is crucial to understand that ODB's widow and administrator of the estate, Icelene Jones, has been requesting these financial records for years and has a legal obligation to do so".

The lawsuit seeks at least $1 million in damages, plus interest.


Majors hit back at latest attempt by Cox to overturn billion dollar copyright ruling
The major labels have hit back at the latest attempt by US internet service provider Cox Communications to overturn the billion dollar judgement that was made against it as part of a big old copyright legal battle pursued by the music companies.

In fact, say the majors, the latest legal filing made by Cox last month which claimed "that plaintiffs procured their victory unfairly" is "meritless". Not only that, Cox's most recent motion in the case is "as counter-factual and disingenuous as Cox's failed litigation strategy to portray itself as an ISP that respected copyrights, acted reasonably, and addressed repeat infringers effectively".

"Cox vigorously litigated this case pursuant to that strategy and lost", the majors go on. "Cox is not entitled to a 'do-over'. Its last-ditch, say-anything attempt, based on smearing plaintiffs, plaintiffs' counsel, plaintiffs' expert, and a third-party fact witness, should be swiftly rejected".

So that's fun. The labels originally sued Cox in 2018 based on the argument that the ISP had a deliberately shoddy system for dealing with repeat infringers among its customer base. That meant the net firm could not rely on the copyright safe harbour to avoid liability for the copyright infringement occurring on its networks. The jury considering the case agreed and awarded the majors a billion dollars in damages as a result.

Cox has been trying to get that judgement overturned ever since. In part by arguing that the labels never actually proved that Cox customers infringed their copyrights. Because if you can't prove any Cox customers directly infringed music controlled by the record companies, you can't hold Cox liable for any contributory copyright infringement.

In pursuing that particular argument, Cox has suggested that some key evidence presented by the labels - a hard drive of unlicensed music gathered from the Cox networks by anti-piracy agent Mark Monitor - contained metadata suggesting those music files had been downloaded in 2016. Which would be a problem, because the specific infringement the music companies sued over took place between 2012 and 2014.

This came up during the original court case, but MarkMonitor insisted that the 2016 metadata was there because the files had been copied from the disk on which they were originally stored – between 2012 and 2014 – to a new hard disk in 2016. Cox wanted to investigate that explanation further, and requested "source code and revision history information" from MarkMonitor to assess the reliability and credibility of the evidence it had provided.

However, at the time MarkMonitor said that there was no source code and revision history information to share. But then, last year, in a similar legal battle between the music industry and another ISP, Charter Communications, MarkMonitor revealed that it had, in fact, now found some relevant source code and revision history

"The recently disclosed MarkMonitor source code and revision history data constitute 'newly discovered evidence' which may give rise to relief", Cox told the court last month. So much so, it said, the court should either "enter an indicative ruling … stating that it is inclined to grant Cox's motion for relief from the judgment, or - at a minimum - that Cox's motion raises a substantial issue that warrants further consideration by this court".

But that's just bullshit, say the majors in their new legal filing. "Cox offers revisionist history in contending that plaintiffs violated a discovery order and made misrepresentations concerning when copies of infringing files on a hard drive produced to Cox in discovery were downloaded", they write.

And the 'factual background' included in the ISP's most recent filing "strings together snippets of statements without context, omits key aspects of the pre-trial and trial records, and is filled with errors and contradictions".

More importantly, they argue, there are technical reasons why the MarkMonitor source code and revision history information is irrelevant, and all that was explained and considered in the original court hearing.

"The dates of file downloads simply do not matter in the context of this case because, as fully explained to the jury, files with matching hash values are identical regardless of when downloaded", they add, getting somewhat technical. "This was a foundation of MarkMonitor's detection system. And it was on this basis that the jury appropriately found direct infringement by Cox subscribers, whom MarkMonitor detected sharing files with hash values that matched hash values of confirmed infringing files".

"Cox received the agreement describing what MarkMonitor did, knew the hard drive files had 2016 metadata, and even challenged the evidence before and during trial, on the same failed basis advanced again here", the new legal filing goes on. "Thus, Cox had every opportunity to explore these issues and conduct robust cross-examination in depositions and at trial in fully and fairly presenting its defence".

For those - and some other reasons, mainly legal technicalities - the majors want the court to deny Cox's most recent motion in the case.


Sting sells publishing catalogue to Universal
Sting's only gone and sold his entire songs catalogue to the good old Universal Music Publishing Group. All of it. Police and solo. Has he kept a little bit of it for himself? Maybe 'Roxanne' or 'Englishman In New York'? No, he has not. He doesn't want it. Take it, he said. And Universal took it. For a reported $250 million.

The deal brings Sting's recording and publishing catalogues all under one roof. Which is nice. For Universal, at the very least. I'm not sure I have any strong opinion either way. And I don't know what the other Police think about it either. But I do know what Universal Music Publishing CEO Jody Gerson and overall Universal Music boss Lucian Grainge think. And isn't that what matters most?

"So many memories from my youth are tied to the great songs written by Sting - whether it was first seeing the Police perform in Philadelphia or hearing his music on the radio or playing those albums until I wore them out", says Gerson. "I could never have imagined that someday I would get to lead a company that will be the guardian of Sting's remarkable songwriting legacy. Every one of us at UMPG looks forward to this work with a sense of honour, responsibility and enormous excitement about what we can achieve for his music in the future".

Grainge adds: "I've had the privilege to work with Sting for over 20 years and I'm so THRILLED to expand our relationship to now include music publishing. Sting is a songwriting genius whose music permeates global culture. We are honoured that by choosing UMPG for his music publishing, Sting's entire body of work as a songwriter and recording artist - from the Police to his solo work - will all be within the UMG family. It's a responsibility we don't take lightly as well as a great validation of what we have built for artists at UMG".

What about Stingo himself though? Well, you didn't think we'd make it out of here without a quote from the man himself, did you? Do you not remember back there when I said - and I quote - "I don't know what the other Police think about it"? Doesn't that imply that I do know what Sting thinks about it? Hmm? Right, well then.

Here's what Sting has to say about it all: "I am delighted to have Jody and the team at UMPG curate and manage my song catalogue. It is absolutely essential to me that my career's body of work have a home where it is valued and respected - not only to connect with longtime fans in new ways but also to introduce my songs to new audiences, musicians and generations".

"Throughout my career, I have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with UMG as my label partner, under the watchful guidance of Lucian", he goes on. "So it felt natural to unite everything in one trusted home, as I return to the studio, ready for the next chapter".

You hear that? More stuff from Sting is coming! I'm sure his new music will be universally applauded. Or at least Universally applauded. Which is to say, applauded by Universal.


The Great Escape launch new award in honour of the agent Steve Strange
The Great Escape yesterday announced the launch of a new award in honour of Steve Strange, the booking agent and co-founder of X-Ray Touring who died last September.

The Steve Strange Award will be linked to the annual showcase festival that takes place in Brighton each May, with all artists playing the event eligible. The thousands of industry delegates that attend TGE each year will then be asked to vote for the artist that they think is "breaking the status quo in music". The winning artist will also receive £5000.

Launching the new award, organisers of The Great Escape said yesterday: "Widely respected as one of the greatest live agents and legendary figures in the music industry, Steve Strange was responsible for developing the careers of some of music's greatest acts. The Great Escape Festival will mark the extraordinary career of Steve Strange and his life-long dedication to artists with the brand-new award".

Meanwhile, Rory Bett - CEO of TGE promoter MAMA - added: "Steve Strange has a long history with The Great Escape and championed hundreds of artists over the years. It is a great honour for us to launch this award for creativity in his name, so that he can continue to influence the industry he loved".

X-Ray agent Josh Javor also commented: "Steve was a huge supporter of The Great Escape and would be deeply honoured by this award being launched in his name. He was first and foremost a passionate music fan and creativity was at the heart of his business. We are delighted his name will live on through this award and inspire many artists into lifelong careers in the industry Steve loved so much".

This year's TGE takes place from 11-14 May in Brighton, with a four day music industry conference alongside the city-wide showcase festival. The first 20 speakers due to appear at the conference were also announced yesterday - they are all taking part in the CMU+TGE Sessions which sit at the heart of the TGE Conference. You will find more details about all that below.

Also confirmed yesterday was that the festival's Arts Council England funded professional development programme TGE Elevate will return this year. That's the programme that supports those early on in their music careers - whether on stage or behind the scenes.

As part of Elevate, 30 early-career music professionals will become super-delegates, getting a free, curated and enhanced TGE experience. On top of that, a full day of TGE Elevate Sessions will be presented on the final day of the festival, packed full of panels, talks, seminars and debates aimed at those early on in their music business careers.

You can find out more about this year's TGE Conference and book your delegate passes here.


CMU+TGE Update: First 20 speakers confirmed
CMU will once again present three full-day conference strands for industry delegates at The Great Escape in Brighton this May - and yesterday we announced 20 speakers who will be taking part in two of those strands, both of which are supported by UK record labels association the BPI.

Those two CMU+TGE strands are...

MUSIC+DATA, which will explain the role data plays in getting artists recommended, played and paid; look at the latest trends in social, streaming and ticketing data, and how that impacts on music marketing; and provide a user-friendly and bullshit-free guide to NFTs and the blockchain.

MUSIC+VIDEO, which will look at all the latest trends, developments and debates in the sync market, with inputs galore from music supervisors around the world; explain how to create great video content that engages influencers and fans alike; and will put the spotlight on all the opportunities for artists, labels and promoters within the metaverse.

The initial 20 speakers confirmed for these CMU+TGE sessions are...

Ameena Badley - Artist Manager, The Ko-Lab
Becky Brook
- music rights consultant
Chris Cooke
- Founder & MD, CMU
Colin Barlow
- President, Marv Music
Des Agyekumhene - Co-Founder, Soga World
Jenn Egan - Music Supervisor, Eyeline Music
Jessie Scoullar
- Chief Strategist, Wicksteed Works
Joanna Gregory
- Head Of Strategy, Cavendish Music
Kevin Bacon
- Chief Innovation Officer, Family In Music
Lauren Roth De Wolf - Founder, Wolves Management
Marcus O'Dair
- Associate Dean: Knowledge Exchange And Enterprise, UAL
Mark Adams
- CEO & Founder, Blinding Talent
Mark Gordon
- composer for film and TV / Ivors Academy Senate member
Max Shand - Founder, Serenade
Olivia Hobbs
- Founder & Director, Blackstar Agency
Paul Sampson
- Co-Founder & CEO, Lickd
Pete Kelly
- Head Of Music, BT Sport
Philippe Rixhon
- Founder & CEO, Digiciti
Ryan Edwards
- Founder & CEO, Audoo
Sophie Goossens - Partner, Reed Smith

Look out for more updates on this year's CMU+TGE programme here in the CMU Daily in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, you can find out more about this year's TGE Conference and book your delegate passes here.

Tess Roby announces new album, Ideas Of Space
Tess Roby has announced that she will release her first album for four years, titled 'Ideas Of Space', in April. The title track is out now.

"'Ideas of Space' signals the beginning of a new chapter", she says of the track. "This song is hypnotic and sinuous, and sonically possesses a certain power and urgency. When I listen to it I imagine vast landscapes, a climb, a journey".

"Two distinct voices speak to each other; one lost, questioning, and the other guiding the way", she goes on. "I wanted to visually represent those voices and the journey I was on while making this album; one of self-discovery, hardship, adventure and in the end, confidence and strength".

"All this time alone, it has taught me one thing", she concludes. "How to feel alive".

Written, produced and performed by Roby alone, she's also putting the album out on her own label, Ssurroundss. 'Ideas Of Space' will be released on 22 Apr. Watch the video for the title track here.



Universal's Republic Records has expanded its partnership with K-pop company JYP Entertainment, they having worked together to launch girl group Twice in the US. "We are beyond delighted to move forward with Republic Records", says JYP CEO Jimmy Jeong, so to develop a "major artist roster" together after "the successful kick-off Twice has brought".



Ulf Zick has joined Utopia Music as Chief Marketing Officer. He was previously Managing Director of Universal Music Germany. He will officially take up his new role on 1 Apr. "Joining Utopia, after an incredibly fun, rewarding and educational time at Universal Music, is a matter of the heart to me", he says. "I have been obsessed with music ever since I was a kid and never wanted to be in any other space".



Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift have released a new version of his song, 'The Joker And The Queen'.

Nicki Minaj has released new single 'Bussin', featuring Lil Baby.

Fred Again has teamed up with India Jordan for new single 'Admit It (U Don't Want To)'. "It was such an effortless joy working with India on this", he says. "We made it in like three sessions and finished it on the rooftop where I live. It was sick that while we were working on it, India could go and road test it when she'd play out and we ended up evolving the tune based on the reaction".

Chase & Status are back with new single 'When It Rains', featuring Backroad Gee.

Saweetie has released new track 'Closer', featuring HER.

Willie Nelson has announced that he will release new album 'A Beautiful Time' on 29 Apr, which also happens to be his 89th birthday. Here's first single 'I'll Love You Till The Day I Die'.

High On Fire's Matt Pike and Mastodon's Brent Hinds have teamed up for new song 'Land', taken from Pike's upcoming solo album, 'Pike v The Automaton.'

Foals have released new single '2am'. New album, 'Life Is Yours', will be out this summer.

Kate Nash has released new track 'Imperfect', which originally featured on the soundtrack of Netflix series 'The Babysitters Club'.

Ibeyi will release new album, 'Spell 31', on 6 May. Here's new single 'Sister 2 Sister'.

Will Joseph Cook has announced that he will release his third album, 'Every Single Thing', on 20 May. Here's new single 'Little Miss'. He'll be touring the UK next month too.

Lady Leshurr has released new track 'Likkle Darling'.

You might think that a reboot of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is entirely unnecessary. Except -EXCEPT - for the fact that Colin Stetson is doing the soundtrack. From that soundtrack, this is a track called 'Every Last One'. The film and full soundtrack are out next week.

Fantastic Negrito will release a new album and film titled 'White Jesus Black Problems' on 3 Jun. First single, 'Highest Bidder', is out now. He's also playing the Jazz Cafe in London on 26-27 Jul.

Cancer Bats will release new album 'Psychic Jailbreak' on 15 Apr. Here's the title track, of with frontman Liam Cormier says: "We needed to kick things off with a total banger of a track that makes you want to pump your fist in the air, smash your head to the beat, all while screaming the call to action, 'Reject the fallacy of time!'"

Dälek are back with new single 'Decimation (Dis Nation)', the first single from new album 'Precipice', which is out on 29 Apr.

FEMM have released the video for 'Outta The Sky' from their latest album, 'Tokyo Ex Machina'.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Kanye West refuses to play Coachella until Billie Eilish apologises to Travis Scott
Kanye West has threatened to pull out of this year's Coachella festival unless Billie Eilish apologises to Travis Scott for a comment she made on stage recently after she stopped a show to help a fan who was seemingly having an asthma attack.

Eilish halted a show last weekend when she noticed a fan in distress in the audience. She asked her team to fetch an inhaler for the person before resuming the performance. In videos shared on social media, she is heard to say: "We're taking care of our people. I'm waiting for people to be OK until I keep going".

West - and indeed others - believe that what Eilish said was actually a dig at Travis Scott over last year's Astroworld tragedy. Scott, of course, has been criticised for continuing to perform as a fatal crowd surge unfolded during his headline set at the festival he founded. Although the musician has insisted that he was not aware of what was happening on the ground as he performed his Astroworld show.

Eilish and West are both headliners at Coachella this year on different days, and West apparently plans to bring Scott out on stage during his set there.

In a post on Instagram, West wrote: "Come On Billie, we love you, please apologise to Trav and to the families of people who lost their lives. No one intended this to happen. Trav didn't have any idea of what was happening when he was one stage and was very hurt by what happened. Yes, Trav will be with me at Coachella, but now I need Billie to apologise before I perform".

Ten people died and hundreds more were injured as a result of the crowd surge at Astroworld. A criminal investigation and hundreds of civil lawsuits have been launched, with various questions over what led to the tragedy - including why the show carried on for more than 30 minutes after a "mass casualty event" had been declared by law enforcement.

While Scott himself has been criticised over the incident and he is a defendant in most of the lawsuits, focus has largely now moved onto the responsibilities and liabilities of promoter Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary.

In a comment under West's post, Eilish refused to apologise, saying: "Literally never said a thing about Travis. Was just helping a fan".

Meanwhile, the grandparents of the youngest person to die at Astroworld, nine year old Ezra Blount, have condemned West's comments.

"To hear Kanye's words, that's hurtful to us. What an idiotic thing to say", the boy's grandfather Bernon Blount told Rolling Stone. "That's crazy that he wants someone to apologise for putting the welfare of someone else before their profits. That's someone who needed their asthma pump. They could have lost their life, right then. This world is twisted, and we have to stop doing this".

Ezra's grandmother Tericia Blount added: "I think it's just crazy, and I hate to use that word, but I think it's ridiculous. She's making sure that she is caring for the patrons at her concert, and I just think that's crazy of Kanye to even let that demand come out of his mouth".

"I totally commend Billie Eilish for having that decency about her", she went on. "I think what she did was wonderful, and I would love to tell her myself how brilliant and awesome she is for doing so".

In another Instagram post shortly after his call for an apology from Eilish, West criticised a commenter for suggesting that his original demand suggested he was "off the meds".

He wrote: "The world is racist, sexist, homophobic and crazy-phobic at our core. It's cheap and dismissive to say I'm off my meds any time I speak up. Phobia in this sense doesn't mean being 'afraid of', it means 'not giving power to'. Let's be more conscious and not write each other off so easily".

West is currently working on the follow-up to last year's 'Donda' album. 'Donda 2' is currently set for release on 22 Feb.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column. (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited. (except press releases, see below)
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY. or call 020 7099 9060
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
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