MONDAY 4 JULY 2022 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The American Copyright Royalty Board has upheld its previous decision regarding the top-line streaming royalty rate for songs, which increased the percentage of streaming service revenue allocated to the song rights in the US from 10.5% to 15.1%. Most of the streaming services - with Apple Music the notable exception - previously appealed that decision... [READ MORE]

TOP STORIES US Copyright Royalty Board reconfirms 15.1% streaming rate for songwriters and publishers
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LEGAL R Kelly sues over being placed on suicide watch in prison
Britney Spears accuses former business manager of being involved in setting up conservatorship

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LIVE BUSINESS Night time sector again calls for VAT relief to support post-pandemic industry on the brink
Day N Vegas 2022 - including Travis Scott's festival return - cancelled
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MEDIA Scott Mills to replace Steve Wright on Radio 2 afternoon show
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ARTIST NEWS Crosby, Stills & Nash's music returns to Spotify following boycott
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AND FINALLY... Donald Trump threatened trade war with Sweden over A$AP Rocky arrest
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US Copyright Royalty Board reconfirms 15.1% streaming rate for songwriters and publishers
The American Copyright Royalty Board has upheld its previous decision regarding the top-line streaming royalty rate for songs, which increased the percentage of streaming service revenue allocated to the song rights in the US from 10.5% to 15.1%. Most of the streaming services - with Apple Music the notable exception - previously appealed that decision.

In the US there is a compulsory licence covering the mechanical copying of songs, meaning that the rate paid by the streaming services to music publishers and songwriters is set by the panel of judges known as the CRB.

Every five years reps for the publishing and songwriting community on the one side, and the streaming services on the other side, present their arguments for what should be paid, and then the judges set a rate.

For the period 2018 to 2022 the CRB ruled that the rate should increase each year so that it would end up at 15.1%, which is what some publishers and collecting societies had already negotiated in other parts of the world where there is no compulsory licence and so each licensing entity negotiates its own deal.

Despite that decision basically bringing the US in line with other markets, most of the streaming services appealed the rate increase. Unsurprisingly, that move proved controversial within the songwriter and publisher community, with Spotify in particular coming in for plenty of criticism.

At various points Spotify argued that it didn't oppose the rate increase in principle, but said it had issues with some of the technicalities of the compulsory licence. However, plenty of publishers and writers countered that Spotify had outright opposed the rate increase earlier in the proceedings. And, when the CRB started considering the rates for 2023-2028, Spotify again proposed a 10.5% top-line rate.

The appeal by the services was initially successful, in that in 2020 an appeals court in Washington told the CRB it had to reconsider its ruling regarding the 2018 to 2022 period. But, after doing some reconsideration, the board has basically kept the rate increases in place.

Welcoming that decision, the boss of the US National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, said on Friday: "Today the court reaffirmed the headline rate increase we earned four long years ago, confirming that songwriters need and deserve a significant raise from the digital streaming services who profit from their work".

"This process was protracted and expensive", he added, "and though we are relieved with the outcome, years of litigation to uphold a rate increase we spent years fighting for is a broken system. Now, songwriters and music publishers finally can be made whole and receive the rightful royalty rates from streaming services that they should've been paid years ago".

Although the big old rate increase was reconfirmed by the CRB, some amendments were made regarding some of the technicalities in the compulsory licence that Spotify et al had objected to.

In particular that affects rules regarding 'total content cost', which guarantees publishers a minimum percentage of the total amount a service pays over to the music industry, and 'bundling', which impacts on things like family plans and mobile bundles. Both those rules have been amended in a way that is more favourable to the services.

With that in mind, Israelite said that those rules would become a focus for the NMPA as the CRB considers the rates for 2023 to 2028. "We will fight to increase the TCC, or percentage of label revenue, which amounts to an insurance policy for songwriters, in the next CRB", he added, "and will also fight for stronger terms regarding bundles".

The NMPA is also pushing for another increase in the top-line rate for the next period, hoping to get that up to 20%. There was a sense that it was with that in mind that some of the services - Amazon as well as Spotify - proposed a 10.5% rate for the next five years, ie hoping that if they entered the proceedings with a proposal around 10% and the publishers at 20%, the CRB would end up opting for something around 15%.

However, with 15.1% now confirmed as the closing rate for this period, the NMPA will be hoping that it can persuade the CRB judges to further increase it in the next period.

For the streaming services, the primary aim is to keep their financial commitment to the music industry at large under 70% of their revenues, which means if more is allocated to the song rights then less can go to the recording rights.

In most markets, as the publishers and collecting societies have slowly increased their revenue share as deals come up for renewal, the services have been able to negotiate the rate paid to record labels and music distributors down a little.

So much so, outside the US, when the slicing of the digital pie is debated, the focus is often mainly on whether or not there should be a reallocation of some of the money that currently goes to the recordings to the songs.

However, when it comes to the CRB proceedings in the US, the labels are not involved, so the whole thing very much becomes a battle between the songwriter and publisher community and the streaming services. That was something noted by the Digital Media Association on Friday, which reckons that all the various stakeholders - artist, labels, songwriters, publishers and services - should be involved in any digital pie debate.

The boss of the trade group for the streaming sector, Garrett Levin, said: "The streaming services thank the judges for their efforts. Today's decision reflects a significant increase in the royalties that will be paid to publishers. The work to give effect to these new rates will soon begin in earnest. The streaming services are committed to working with [collecting society] the MLC and music publishing companies to facilitate the accurate distribution of royalties".

"This proceeding is also a reminder that rate-settings do not - and cannot - take place in a vacuum", he added. "Today's decision comes as the three major label groups - which operate the world's three largest music publishers - continue to earn the lion's share of the industry profits while reporting consistent double-digit revenue growth as a result of streaming".

"Looking ahead", he concluded, "streaming services believe it's time for all stakeholders - labels, publishers, writers, artists and the services - to engage in comprehensive discussions to figure out the right royalty-sharing balance going forward".

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R Kelly sues over being placed on suicide watch in prison
Federal prosecutors in New York have defended the decision to place R Kelly on suicide watch, following his 30 year sentence on sex trafficking and racketeering charges last week. The singer has sued the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, accusing it of placing him under suicide watch supervision as a punishment when he is not suicidal.

In a legal filing on Saturday, the federal government argued that that case should be dismissed on the grounds that Kelly's lawsuit "fails to show a substantial likelihood of success for relief". It also says that the prison plans to keep Kelly on suicide watch, as he meets the relevant criteria for such a move, adding that any decision on the matter should be left up to prison managers.

But Kelly's legal team say that they will continue to fight against the decision. "The irony of putting someone on suicide watch when they're not suicidal is it actually causes more harm", Kelly's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, tells CNN. "It's punishment for being high-profile. And it's horrifying frankly. To put someone under suicide watch under those conditions is cruel and unusual when they don't need it".

Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison last week after being found guilty in the New York courts last year of establishing and running a criminal enterprise in order to sexually and physically abuse women and teenagers.

The musician continues to deny all the allegations that have been made against him, and is appealing last year's conviction and last week's sentencing. Meanwhile, because there were actually charges in multiple states, the star faces further trials, including in his home city of Chicago next month.

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Britney Spears accuses former business manager of being involved in setting up conservatorship
Britney Spears' attorney Mathew Rosengart has filed new legal papers accusing the company that formerly worked as his client's business manager - Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group - of being directly involved in setting up and then benefitting from the conservatorship that oversaw the star's career and personal life from 2008 until last year.

Tri Star was hired by Spears' father Jamie in 2008 and continued to manage the singer's business affairs until October 2020, when the company resigned from its position.

Rosengart now alleges that Tri Star - and in particular its founder Lou Taylor and Services Director Robin Greenhill - were directly involved in setting up the conservatorship with Jamie Spears. He also claims that it benefitted from the arrangement to the tune of $18 million and used its association with Britney to build its wider business.

"Tri Star, Lou Taylor and Robin Greenhill have all denied that Tri Star was involved in the creation of the conservatorship", says the filing, but - it then insists - various claims that "at the time the conservatorship … was established by this court in early 2008, Tri Star had no role in Ms Spears' affairs … are false".

The lawyer also includes emails allegedly showing that Taylor had originally pushed to become co-conservator alongside Jamie Spears, and that - while the conservatorship was still being considered in court in early 2008 - she had expressed concern that the judge hearing the case "will not give Jamie the power to administer psychotropic drugs".

In response, Tri Star's attorney Scott Edelman said on Saturday: "This is materially misleading. As all the evidence makes abundantly clear, the conservatorship was set up on the recommendation of legal counsel, not Tri Star, and approved by the court for more than twelve years".

"In fact", Edelman added, "Tri Star was not even the business manager for the conservatorship when it was established. Cherry-picked excerpts from emails cannot change the facts, which is why this nonsense will all end once and for all when records are unsealed".

In an exposé by the New York Times last year, Tri Star was also accused of being involved in placing surveillance devices in Britney Spears' bedroom. The company also denies that allegation and legal action over the claim continues.

Britney moved to have her conservatorship ended last year, after being allowed to hire a lawyer of her choice for the first time since the legal guardianship had been put in place. Her father was suspended as her conservator in September and the whole arrangement was then terminated in November.

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Night time sector again calls for VAT relief to support post-pandemic industry on the brink
The UK's Night Time Industries Association has again called on the government at large - and the Chancellor Of The Exchequer in particular - to reduce the VAT rate on events and entertainment, arguing that, with inflation pressures, surging energy prices and a cost of living crisis, the night-time economy is struggling to recover from the COVID period.

The VAT rate on tickets was reduced during the pandemic, and reps from across the live music industry have been calling for that reduction to be reinstated, arguing that - although there are no longer any COVID restrictions in place - the sector needs further support as it seeks to recover after two years of lockdown measures. And all the more so given the other economic pressures now in play.

In its latest call for more government support, the NTIA states: "There is a temptation to think that, because restrictions have now been removed, the [night-time] sector will simply snap back to its pre-pandemic strength. But sadly, given the additional cost inflation pressures, this is a long way from the truth, and many businesses – who are already burdened with significant debt hangovers from the pandemic – are now facing huge pressures from the wider economic landscape".

Citing a survey of its membership, the NTIA adds that many businesses have seen their operating costs increase by 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels, with nearly a half of the night-time companies surveyed barely breaking even and uncertain if they will survive the next twelve months.

With that in mind, the trade group is calling for a reduced 12.5% VAT rate to be applied across the hospitality, late night and event sectors for the next twelve months, as well as seeking a commitment that ongoing business rates relief schemes will be continued beyond the current financial year and asking for an energy price cap for small and medium sized businesses.

Says NTIA CEO Michael Kill: "Time is running out for the government and the Chancellor to put measures in place to stem the spiralling costs of living, with inflation reaching 9.1%. Hospitality, night-time economy and events industries are facing a bleak summer, and uncertainty to what the future holds, with no clear strategy presented by the Prime Minister on when or how this crisis will be averted".

"Businesses are struggling to meet operating costs, in many cases barely breaking even, with staff and customers starting to feel the impact of cost of living", he goes on. "We need decisive action from the government, with the industry calling for an immediate reduction in VAT to 12.5% across the board, with an extension of business rates relief and an energy cap for small [and] medium enterprise businesses".

NTIA Chair Sacha Lord adds: "The combined, unrelenting pressures of rising supply costs, energy increases and historic pandemic debt burdens are taking their toll on operators across the hospitality and events sector. Having barely recovered from the upheaval of the past two years, they find themselves once again in an uphill battle which, to many, will be simply unsustainable".

"I echo the NTIA and others in industry in calling on the government to implement a temporary reduction in VAT for the hospitality, late night economy and events sector, in order to save the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of staff across the UK that the sector employs", he goes on. "I continue to urge the Chancellor to show greater willingness and support the small and independent businesses across the UK who are the backbone of our economy".

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Day N Vegas 2022 - including Travis Scott's festival return - cancelled
The 2022 edition of the Day N Vegas festival has been cancelled because of "a combination of logistics, timing and production issues".

The Las Vegas event - set to take place from 2-4 Sep and promoted by AEG's Goldenvoice - was due to include Travis Scott's first festival appearance since last year's Astroworld tragedy.

The rapper had also been due to headline the 2021 edition of Day N Vegas, but that took place just a week after ten people died as a result of a crowd surge during Scott's performance at the Houston festival he founded, after which he cancelled his appearance at the Vegas event.

According to Billboard, disappointing ticket sales are behind Goldenvoice's decision to cancel Day N Vegas 2022. With Scott's big festival return, plus SZA and J Cole also headlining, promoters were expecting more demand for the event. Though it's possible that going with September dates - instead of the November slot past editions took place in - had an impact.

Billboard reports: "Sources close to the concert promoter blame the location and time of the Day N Vegas, being held on Labor Day Weekend in Las Vegas, which is historically one of the hottest weekends of the month. [Previously] Day N Vegas was held in November when the weather is considerably cooler".

The trade mag's sources also note that a number of US festivals are not enjoying the fast ticket sales promoters had hoped, with one source saying: "There are a lot festivals out there right now and it seems like only those first festivals to go on sale for their sound or genre are the ones that sell out, but everything else that follows has struggled".

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Scott Mills to replace Steve Wright on Radio 2 afternoon show
Steve Wright's daily show on BBC Radio 2 will come to an end in September, with Scott Mills shifting over from Radio 1 to present a new afternoon programme in the slot currently occupied by Wright.

Because, you know, while Radio 2 has long provided a home for Radio 1 DJs once they are too old to be hosting on the BBC's youth station, only so many old Radio 1 DJs can be accommodated at any one time. And sometimes the really old former Radio 1 DJs need to make room for the newly old Radio 1 DJs.

Wright confirmed his departure on his radio show on Friday, stating: "At the end of September, I'll be taking a break from daytime radio. In other words, stepping down from this programme. At the beginning of this year, my friend and boss Helen Thomas, Head Of Radio 2, said she wanted to do something different in the afternoons".

"I've been doing this programme for 24 years at Radio 2 and so how can I possibly complain?", he added. "The support and creative freedom I'm given are fantastic at Radio 2, and really I can't hold the slot forever. So let's give somebody else ago".

Wright - who had shows on Radio 1 from 1981 to 1995, before joining Radio 2 in 1996 and starting his daily show on the station in 1999 - isn't departing the BBC entirely. He will still present his 'Sunday Love Songs' show and some seasonal specials on Radio 2, as well as hosting podcasts on the BBC Sounds platform.

He added on Friday: "The great news is onwards and upwards - I'm staying at the BBC and Radio 2 to do some very exciting brand new digital projects and develop new podcasts, some of which actually will feature elements of this programme 'Steve Wright In The Afternoon'. Anyway, all will become clear in the next few months, because we're staying on this programme until the autumn".

Meanwhile, confirming that he was making the Radio 1 to Radio 2 leap after 24 years with the former station, Mills said: "Time actually does fly when you're having fun, and that's certainly been the case over the past 24 years at my beloved Radio 1. The station I pretended to be on in my bedroom from the age of six. The station I told my mum I wanted to work at, but never in a million years thought I would".

"I really cannot believe I'm going to be calling Radio 2 my new home", he added. "I'm beyond excited to be joining the team and working alongside my radio idols and friends at the legendary Wogan House".

Wogan House, by the way, is the building where Radio 2 is based, just in case you wondered, and it turns out said building isn't quite as legendary as Mills reckons.

Mills' co-host at Radio 1 Chris Stark is also departing, with various podcasting projects to focus on, including 'That Peter Crouch Podcast' for the BBC and 'The Pirate Ship', which he co-presents with chef Tom Kerridge.

And now some quotes from the BBC bigwigs...

Head Of BBC Radio 2 Helen Thomas: "Steve's a legendary radio broadcaster and producer, known for his passion and commitment in keeping millions of listeners entertained each weekday afternoon. I'm THRILLED he'll remain in Wogan House as a part of the Radio 2 family to present 'Sunday Love Songs', as well as seasonal specials and regular 'Serious Jockin' specials for BBC Sounds and Radio 2".

Head Of BBC Radio 1, Aled Haydn Jones: "Scott is a broadcasting legend who has helped define Radio 1 over the past 24 years and is loved by everyone who has had the pleasure of working with him. Chris has also been an integral part of the Radio 1 family who has brought so much entertainment and laughter to Radio 1 over the years. I'd like to thank them both for everything they have done for the station and wish them the very best in the future. Scott and Chris will go out with some very exciting shows in August starting with a week live from Newquay - more details to follow".

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Setlist: Is TikTok just "a sophisticated surveillance tool"?
CMU's Andy Malt and Chris Cooke review key events in music and the music business from the last week, including Brendan Carr of the US Federal Communications Commission calling on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores claiming that the app is "a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data" that it then hands over to the Chinese government, plus a round-up of the week's Kanye West legal news.

Listen to this edition of Setlist here.

Crosby, Stills & Nash's music returns to Spotify following boycott
The recordings catalogue of Crosby, Stills & Nash has returned to Spotify, less than six months after it was pulled in solidarity with former bandmate Neil Young's own boycott of the streaming platform.

Young, of course, launched his boycott in January in protest against Spotify-exclusive podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, which had been accused of spreading COVID misinformation.

Crosby, Stills & Nash followed days later, saying in a statement that they had requested that the labels they work with remove from Spotify all of their recordings - including their solo work, and releases from their various collaborative projects, including those involving Young.

"We support Neil and we agree with him that there is dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify's Joe Rogan podcast", they said at the time.

"While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences", they went on. "Until real action is taken to show that a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce, we don't want our music - or the music we made together - to be on the same platform".

Spotify and Rogan have both since promised to make changes, respectively in the way they monitor podcast content and deal with controversial guests. However, this is seemingly not the reason for the CSN catalogue - including those recordings with Neil Young - returning to the platform.

Basically, although they asked their business partners to remove their music from Spotify, CSN aren't fully in control of those recordings, and it seems it's the entities that are in control that have decided to put the tracks back on the streaming service.

After a fan questioned this move on Twitter, Crosby replied, simply: "I don't own it now and the people who do are in business to make money". For his part, Crosby entered into a wide ranging rights deal with Irving Azoff's Iconic Artists Group in March last year.

With the Spotify streams up and running again, Crosby, Stills & Nash will seemingly donate any income they are personally due from said streams to charity for at least a month, or at least so reports Billboard.

We should note that Neil Young's music - outside of his work with Crosby, Stills & Nash - remains off Spotify.

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Donald Trump threatened trade war with Sweden over A$AP Rocky arrest
Former US President Donald Trump threatened Sweden with trade restrictions if its government did not intervene to release rapper A$AP Rocky from jail after he was arrested in the country in 2019, the Swedish Minister For Justice Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The rapper was held in custody for a month after being arrested on suspicion of assault following an altercation in Stockholm with another man called Mustafa Jafari.

In a speech at the Swedish Bar Association's annual dinner last week - reports newspaper Dagens Nyheter - Johansson recalled how Trump's legal advisor Pat Cipollone had tried to pressure Swedish political leaders to intervene in the case.

"He was sitting in the White House's situation room [when] we spoke about this A$AP Rocky", Johansson said of a video call that took place back in 2019. "It was a completely surreal experience".

Sweden's Chief Justice Daniel Ström, who also took part in the meeting, told the newspaper: "It was a very special situation. In normal cases, the tone is very polite in international contacts, but this was [different]".

Johansson added that he explained to Cipollone that the Swedish constitution prohibits the government from intervening in legal cases, in order to ensure the independence of the courts. Cipollone apparently then said that Trump would be willing to personally pay Rocky's bail to fast-track his release - only for Johansson to explain that Sweden does not operate a bail system.

While the US may not have realised that there was no way to pay for the rapper's release, Johansson said that Cipollone and his team did have some knowledge of the Swedish constitution. The US lawyer pointed out that there is actually a provision for the government to step in and force its own will on legal cases under "exceptional circumstances". And this was such an occasion, Cipollone had insisted.

But Johansson countered that the last time that rule had been enacted was during a terrorism case in the 1970s, and he did not agree with the US legal man that a rapper being accused of assault was a comparable situation.

"They had looked up and read about [the provision for government intervention], so we had to argue and stand up for our Swedish principles", added Ström.

When it became clear that the Swedish government was not simply going to allow Trump to get his way, Cipollone apparently then threatened trade restrictions against the country. With such tough talking from the Americans, Johansson went on, he subsequently asked the EU Commission for support in the matter.

"If you can try to do such a thing against Sweden, what can you then try to do against slightly weaker countries that do not have the EU behind them", he mused.

"This story shows how important it actually is to stand up for our legal principles and not take our democracy for granted", he went on. "We should be enormously grateful to be able to live in a state governed by the rule of law and with the basic democratic principles that apply to our country".

Ultimately, A$AP Rocky was held for a month while awaiting trial before being convicted of assaulting Jafari.

Both sides involved in the altercation argued that they had been acting in self-defence and that the other side had attacked first. Although, either way, Jafari had been beaten and cut with a broken bottle by Rocky and two members of his entourage, leaving him with several cuts requiring stitches and some broken ribs. The rapper was given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay damages to Jafari.

Following his release, Trump and his team were reportedly angry that the rapper wasn't more grateful for the President's decision to get involved.

Trump associate Darrell Scott later told Yahoo that he'd commented to Rocky's manager John Ehmann: "The White House didn't ask for anything. There were no conditions attached, but my condition … was that all I'm asking for you guys to do is say thank you".

A$AP Rocky has actually commented on Trump's involvement in the case, although not entirely in the way Trump would have liked.

Speaking in a documentary about his time in detention in Sweden, 'Stockholm Syndrome', which came out last year, the rapper said: "It was a chess move and they tried to strong arm a lot. In reality, I had no problem saying thank you to the man, especially if he helped me. That's the narrative they pushin - that he got me out. [But] he didn't free me. If anything, he made [the situation] a little worse".

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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