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Adobe Threatens Microsoft With Suit 362

Posted by Zonk
from the waving-a-big-stick-around dept.
lseltzer writes "Adobe has threatened an antitrust suit against Microsoft, over PDF writing in Office 2007. Adobe wants Microsoft to separate the feature and charge extra for it. Microsoft has agreed to remove PDF writing, but won't charge extra." From the eWeek article: "In February, Adobe Chief Executive Bruce Chizen told Reuters he considered Microsoft to be the company's biggest concern. 'The competitor I worry about most is Microsoft,' Chizen said at the time. Adobe's PDF technology lets producers create and distribute documents digitally that retain designs, pictures and formatting. "
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Adobe Threatens Microsoft With Suit

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  • Summary incorrect. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:58AM (#15453003) Homepage Journal
    Adobe isn't "Threatening Microsoft With a Suit" - Microsoft is speculating that Adobe will file an antitrust suit in Europe.

    I think its FUD on MS's part: From Adobe's PDF Reference [adobe.com] page:
    The PDF Reference provides a description of the Portable Document Format and is intended for application developers wishing to develop applications that create PDF files directly, as well as read or modify PDF document content.
    Unless MS extends PDF in a manner imcompatable with adobe's PDF. (but that would never happen [slashdot.org])
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:07AM (#15453068)
      Unless MS extends PDF in a manner imcompatable with Adobe's PDF

      I tend to agree, unless MS is mis-stating its case to garner early sympathy. Adobe Opened the PDF spec, unless they specifically reserved some portion as "trade secret" or the license restricted implementation of certain features. Adobe's been making money on their Portable Document Format for a decade, and if the product is doomed to slide into the non-profitable abyss, then they will need to adjust. Perhaps they could react by extending Acrobat into a full featured Word processor?

    • by B_SharpC (698293) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:23AM (#15453194) Homepage
      Software is a dictatorship eg Microsoft. Other businesses are more fairly partnerships eg law partnerships, real estate partnerships, medical etc.

      It is because techies have such poor social skills. They talk of libertarian ideals but in reality are mostly doormats who feel safer with a monolithic dictator. Nerds sadly trade proper ownership for the false substitute of being controlled by surrogate big daddy.

      Adobe software is fighting a losing battle in a totalitarian industry where the tech worker attitude enables tyranny.
    • OK, I'm stumped. Why would Microsoft leak this story unless Adobe were threatening legal action? Why is Adobe refusing to comment on it?

      There's no reasonable reading of the story that doesn't include an Adobe threat of legal action. And do you really find it hard to believe that another software company would threaten Microsoft with an antirust suit?
      • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:49AM (#15453401) Homepage Journal
        Why is Adobe refusing to comment on it?

        Why do you say that? All I could see in the article was: Representatives of Microsoft and Adobe were not immediately reachable for comment. - that's not refusing to comment.

        Now, I suspect the reason Microsoft & Adobe have been negotiating, is over rights to use Adobes proprietary DRM extensions (the ones that are not implemeneted by openoffice, Apple's print to PDF feature, etc).

        When negotiations broke down (who knows what reason for, perhaps Adobe was trying to screw MS or vice versa), MS was left without being able to fully support PDF.

        There's no reasonable reading of the story that doesn't include an Adobe threat of legal action.

        You haven't been following Microsoft stories for long have you?
      • by RemovableBait (885871) <slashdot&blockavoid,co,uk> on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:50AM (#15453411) Homepage
        Well, I thought this was pretty odd too, until I remebered about one of the Vista 'features' that Microsoft were pushing a while back.

        Microsoft are developing a competitor to PDF, codenamed 'Metro', that allows all the same functions as PDF as well as being integrated with the Vista printing system (much like Mac OS X's 'Print as PDF'). They also demonstrated it (I think at WinHEC 2005) printing direct to 'Metro-enabled' printers with a noticeable quality boost. They later renamed the format 'XPS' [microsoft.com] and it is present in the current Office 2007 builds.

        I think this is typical style Microsoft FUD to make it look like Adobe wants them to drop PDF, when actually, it's MS that wants rid of PDF in order to promote its XPS format. Despite PDF's strong foothold, integration of XPS within the widest used operating system and widest used office suite could change things. I reckon this is MS saying "sorry, not our fault you have to use our format!".
  • So (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:59AM (#15453008)
    will they be coming after pdftex/pdflatex next?
    Or ps2pdf?

    Whats the point of opening the spec for PDF, if you don't want other people's applications to be able to write them?
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:59AM (#15453009)


    From TFA (emphasis mine):
    Microsoft Corp. said it expected Adobe Systems Inc. to file an antitrust suit in Europe after talks to use Adobe's technology broke down this week, according to the Wall Street Journal.
    Adobe hasn't 'threatened' anything. Nowhere in the story is the word 'threat' used.

  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@earthshod[ ].uk ['.co' in gap]> on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:00AM (#15453018)
    The script "ps2pdf" has been part of the Ghostscript package installed on every Linux, Solaris and BSD system for a long time.

    What do Adobe think of that?
    • Well the headline is just a blatant lie as other people have pointed out but...

      You don't sue people who don't have money. Why go after some shlub?

      Note: The above statement does not apply to creatures and other entitites that have eruptedd out of the orifices of the devil such as the RIAA and the MPAA.
      • mod parent up.

        openoffice has pdf export - no money - no lawsuit.

        we have programmale format objects for xml in several
        programming languages which can make pdf's with xml/xslt
        but again - no money - no lawsuit.

        kde can print into pdf (i think it may use ps2pdf internally)
        but no money here neither so no lawsuit.

        this is the very same reason why bittorrent's author
        is not in the court of law yet neither. he doesn't make
        a penny from the file sharing going on here, so he
        won't be sued. but the site runners that make m
    • The script "ps2pdf" has been part of the Ghostscript package installed on every Linux, Solaris and BSD system for a long time. What do Adobe think of that?

      They probably think "That's not going to be installed automatically on 90% of business computers; who cares?" Office, of course, will be. But while that is a dramatic and real difference, I don't think there's anything they can or should be able to do about it.

      Personally, if it means that people stop using Word as the format of choice for passing aroun

    • I can't speak for Adobe here, but I would speculate that they don't think a Unix-based command line PDF generating utility which has been integrated into very little with a meaningful UI to a typical office worker is a particularly big threat to their Windows-based GUI PDF generating utility which integrates into other software.

      OTOH, Microsoft integrating such functionality into Office would effectively kill off a significant market for Adobe Acrobat pretty quickly. A lot of people either don't know of
      • A Unix command-line utility is as powerful as it gets.

        What about if someone set up a box to listen on port 9100, like it was a JetDirect-compatible printer, so you "print" documents to it; and convert the received documents to PDF and serve them out via an Apache server, so you can later download PDFs of what you "printed" from a web-based interface ?
        • What about if someone set up a box to listen on port 9100, like it was a JetDirect-compatible printer, so you "print" documents to it; and convert the received documents to PDF and serve them out via an Apache server, so you can later download PDFs of what you "printed" from a web-based interface?

          Then I would address them as "Mr. Goldberg".

          Try this Windows ghostscript wrapper [primopdf.com]. It installs a printer, pops up a dialog box when you print to it which prompts for a filename, and then saves the PDF. There are

      • I only have the need to create simple PDF newsletters. Since I can't do that in Word, I installed OpenOffice.org at work. Now, I simply open up a Word document in OpenOffice.org and export it to PDF. It works like a charm for my purposes.

        I can certainly see why Adobe would be scared of a PDF export funciton in Office. Many, many people would take advantage of it. As it stands now, most office workers do not even know that this capability is available in OpenOffice.org. Also, I suspect that many compan

      • I work in an all-Windows shop, and everyone basically uses the freeware print-to-PDF utilities (there are a number of them, all more or less identical), which in at least some cases, use the GPL libraries at their core.

        I'm not sure what the penetration of those things is like, but in my office it's really high, like up around 80 or 90 percent. Their most frequent use is making softcopy "prints" of web pages to send to people, to avoid the formatting getting too mangled (which would happen if you sent it as
        • I think there has to be something more to this: Microsoft wanted to include more advanced PDF generation capabilities than would be provided by the usual printer-driver type output plugins.

          Agreed. OO.o version 2 can not only generate PDFs, but also generate the table of contents that you sometimes see on the left hand side with PDFs - something which a printer-driver type PDF creator cannot do because by the time it sees the document it knows nothing about its structure.

          It's the extra features like this whi
      • One thing that doesn't get mentioned here:

        It is not a patent lawsuit, but an Anti-Trust lawsuit. That to me implies that there is no intellectual property rights that Adobe could use to try and bully Microsoft with.

        If Anti-Trust is the only tool Adobe has, then none of the other solutions would be at risk.
    • There's different possibilities.

      One is that some subset of distiller is in Microsoft Word under an agreement with Adobe. If you install Adobe Acrobat (not the reader, the full version), it adds a subset of distiller to Word.

      There is a LOT of business out there that converts Word documents to PDF. Adobe makes a lot of money from it, and Microsoft is speculating that when they add PDF capabilities to Word for no extra charge, that this market will be quashed and Adobe will lose money.

      Kinda like when Microsoft
    • by kilgortrout (674919) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:31AM (#15453267)
      Remember, there are different rules for monopolies. As a monopoly, MS was found to have improperly bundled its browser with windows by US courts, while this same bundling commonly occurs in linux distros. It's improper leveraging of a monopoly position to force a competitor out of business that may be at issue here assuming you can show that MS has a monopoly in the office suite area.
      • Actually the US courts found Microsoft innocent of "bundling", IE is still bundled (as you may have noticed), and MS can legally bundle whatever they'd like as long as they don't leverage their OEM contracts illegally.

        Of course, that's why the suit is being threatened in the EU.
    • What Adobe (apparently) thinks of that may be found at http://trace.wisc.edu:8080/mailarchive/eitaac-l/w e b/eitaac.9901/msg00025.html/ [wisc.edu]

      From the article on the web-page:

      "Adobe gives copyright permission to anyone to:

      - Prepare files in which the file content conforms to the Portable Document Format.

      - Write drivers and applications that produce output represented in the Portable Document Format.

      - Write software that accepts input in the form of the Portable Document Format and displays the results,
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:01AM (#15453024) Homepage Journal
    How is it that Apple is able to get away with allowing easy generation of PDFs via OS X's printing utilities, but Microsoft can't? Did Apple pony up Adobe's danegelt? Or are they too small for Adobe to care?
  • by timecop (16217) * on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:02AM (#15453034) Homepage
    And it's great.
    Its integrated, its almost as quick as saving the file, and most of all, it doesn't require 300megs of crappy Adobe junk to be installed which hogs your system, installs a printer driver, and adds its toolbars to every fucking application.

    I hope microsoft does NOT remove PDF export functionality, because the alternative (adobe acrobat) is annoying and bloated. Sure, it might have OCR and some other niceties, but it should stick to that, instead of trying to take over every document publishing app on my PC.
  • I don't want to be a MS fanboy here but how comes Adobe can sue MS if they want to implement pdf output ? Does that mean that as a linux user I should stop writing so much pdf because some day Adobe can charge LaTeX team in order them to continue producing pdflatex ?
    • It is an open but proprietary format. I'm not exactly sure what restrictions are on it, if any, but I would tend to belive that Adobe would only sue if MS put some non-standard, MS-Proprietary hooks into the PDF. This is probably a direct result of MA's switch to open formats. Rather than, you know, play nice and support open formats, Microsoft is going to smear the formats that MA named as acceptable and open. Creating this fictitious threat from Adobe is step 1, step 2 is bitch and moan about how unfair
    • Well, if you RTFA... (Score:5, Informative)

      by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:25AM (#15453210)
      ...it's *antitrust* (read: monopoly-busting) law they're potentially going to be using, not anything regarding copyright or patents -- so yes, it's an open standard; and no, the Ghostscript team isn't vulnerable to the same argument.
      • It's not really open when the vendor producing the operating system that 90+% of the world uses can't use it, is it?
  • Well.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by linuxkrn (635044) <gwatson@@@linuxlogin...com> on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:04AM (#15453050)
    Like most /.ers I hate Microsoft, and love it when they get it stuck to them. However, this does worry me a bit. Right now MS-Office is the industry standard. For both work and home I use OpenOffice.org and tell everyone else to use it to.

    What worries me about this is that OOo has PDF export that gave them a nice "feature" that MS-Office didn't have. Now Adobe is going after MS, I have to wonder if OOo gets popular enough they will demand that it be removed too.

    Maybe it's just my cynical anti-big-corporation views, but I don't trust Adobe enough to not use their big stick against OOo.

  • gimme a break (Score:4, Informative)

    by tehwebguy (860335) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:04AM (#15453052) Homepage
    if any of this is really true it should be pretty embarassing for adobe. i would NEVER buy an acrobat product. the free acrobat reader is such a disaster on windows, especially in browsers, that buying an advanced version is like a joke to me.

    for reading i use foxit: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php [foxitsoftware.com]

    for saving i make an html page and run it through some pdf generator online (i have to do that maybe twice a year for clients who will only take pdf invoices)

    not to mention, isn't "Save As PDF..." built into like every other apple application, and can't pdfs be opened with apple's Preview?
    • Why not just get PDFCreator from Sourceforge. It installs as a printer driver under Windows. Very handy to have.
    • Adobe Acrobat Pro can actually do quite a few advanced things with PDF creation that you're not going to get with one of the freeware or shareware "PDF writer" utilities or plug-ins.

      Most of the time, a Windows user can simply install a free package like "CutePDF Writer" which adds a printer device that makes PDFs out of anything you can send to a printer. I use it at work all the time to do things like conversion of AutoCAD drawings to PDF files.

      But Adobe's Acrobat Pro lets you build PDF forms that allow u
  • The competitor I worry about most is Microsoft, Chezen said,

    which is the reason why I'm going to make sure NOT to compete by, oh I don't know, actually having a superior platform; rather, I will sue and hope for the best.
    Jeez how detestable... They better sue Openoffice.org and every other piece of software out there that exports to PDF before the whole industry sees through their hypocrisy. Besides... Adobe has the best PDF suite out there. Anybody who works with PDF is using it and not switching to Offi
    • by cduffy (652)
      They better sue Openoffice.org and every other piece of software out there that exports to PDF before the whole industry sees through their hypocrisy.
      Suing OpenOffice.org or ghostscript under antitrust law is going to be kinda' hard.
    • Platform compitition is exactly what Adobe (and the industry) needs. Basically, they should have all their products on other platforms, namely Mac and Linux. As it is, MS can keep selling and as they elect to take over an area, they can then focus on a company at a time. Now that Adobe is in MS's sights, I wonder how long they will last without a lawsuit.
  • If Adobe can't take competition from a MS product, then their product must not be that spectacular. (Their PDF reader sucks....memory hog. Try FoxIt Reader.) I would not shed a tear for them if they lost share in the PDF market.
  • ... and roll their own PDF compatibility. The format is 'open' (sorta, kinda). Adobe has been famously protective of PDF before, what with arresting Russian programmers and whatnot. Who knows what kind of terms they want for the license.

    On a slightly related note, I still think its really odd that the bundled Preview app in OS X just completely smokes Acrobat Reader, in terms of display speed.

  • by wjsteele (255130)
    According to the article, Adobe wants MS to charge it's cutomers for the ability to write PDF documents. Why would Adobe do that? I mean, Office 12 (er, Office 2007) can only create PDFs, it can't read or modify them. To do that, you have to use Adobe's software. Don't they like the fact that Office users are still going to be foreced to use Adobe Acrobat? This makes no sense to me.

    Bill
    • by Duds (100634)
      The charge for thing it to stop MS saying "yeah we removed it" when the first time you start word it says "Hey! There's a PDF update! Download it free!"

      Which would be exactly like bundling but with 150kb of network traffic.
  • by layer3switch (783864) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:15AM (#15453125)
    when dvi is much better. Personally I stop creating PDf file long time ago. There is nothing like that feeling when your browser (Firefox) is trying to open up 10 MB pdf file, "Oh, crap..."
  • How much of a liability will PDF writing support be in the next generation of the Cairo graphics library [cairographics.org]?

    Cairo with the PDF writing backend was set to ship with the next crop of distributions as the bugs have been pretty comprehensively fixed over the last few months.

    It would be a shame if PDF writing support ends up tainting Linux distributions and slowing their adoption in large organisations. It seems that making at least a branch of Cairo without the PDF writing backend would be a good move for now.

    The
  • Isn't creating PDFs a default feature in openoffice.org ? And there are many programs in Linux which can convert a file into PDF. So how is what Microsoft is doing different from what we have in Linux ?
  • Adobe wants Microsoft to remove the feature and offer Adobe's technology separately for a fee. Microsoft has agreed to remove the feature, but is unwilling to charge for it, the Journal reported.

    Where is this alleged PDF writer in MSFT apps? I've got Office 2003 Enterprise Edition, and I had to go out and find and install a 3rd party PDF writer.

  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:23AM (#15453199) Homepage Journal
    In order to continue to include PDF functionality, OpenOffice.Org has been forced to double the price of their product.
    • Re:In other news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by windowpain (211052) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:48AM (#15453395) Journal
      Seriously, I was suprised years ago when free, legal products started showing up that can create PDFs (e.g., OpenOffice). If they're OK legally then Adobe is on mighty thin ice going after Microsoft.

      And for you folks saying PDFs are a scourge of the Internet I agree. My pet peeve is links that open PDFs without warning, especially when they're incorporated into some kind of fancy button that doesn't even reveal the destination in the status bar on the bottome of the browser.

      However, PDF is the de facto standard for distributing print-ready documents, and in that role, it's a Good Thing.
      • Re:In other news.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by SEE (7681)
        Seriously, I was suprised years ago when free, legal products started showing up that can create PDFs (e.g., OpenOffice). If they're OK legally then Adobe is on mighty thin ice going after Microsoft.

        Not in this case. Adobe is purportedly talking antitrust. Under antitrust laws, actions that are perfectly legal for normal people and companies are nontheless forbidden to monopolies. For example, Linux distros and Apple can bundle any media players they like with their OSes in Europe, but Microsoft was slap
  • Clearly FUD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LWGLIN (98225) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:28AM (#15453236) Homepage Journal
    It's clearly FUD. There is absolutely no ground for such a lawsuite. Everybody can write a PDF engine and distribute it for free.
    The proof? Adobe is shipping a product (MacroMedia's Cold Fusion Server) with my F/OSS library iText [lowagie.com] to produce PDF from Cold Fusion pages. I never heard anybody at Adobe complain because I wrote a free PDF engine.
    As a PDF specialist I know that the big money isn't in the conversion from Word to PDF. PDF is a lot more than text documents. The Acrobat product family is used for completely different reasons than a product like MS Word or a free library like iText.
  • This was expected. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:34AM (#15453298)
    This way, with microsoft "worried" about Adobe bringing a suit, Microsoft can introduce it's PDF replace technology.

    The best thing Adobe can do is publically state that it would like MS Office to include an unadultered version of PDF output ability.
  • The key to the success of Adobe's PDF format is that it is free of any licensing restrictions, so anyone can implement PDF readers/writers. Microsoft's competitors have - both operating system vendors like Apple and Linux and competing office suites like Star Office and OpenOffice.org. However Microsoft isn't allowed to - not because Adobe has any legal right to prevent it, but because Adobe claims that it won't be able to compete with Microsoft if Microsoft makes PDF features available for free like most everyone else does. Adobe charges $449 for Adobe Acrobat - something it can only get away if Microsoft isn't allowed to compete with it. In effect, it is saying "anyone can use our format and compete with our products... unless you actually present a competitive challenge."
    • It's an interesting situation, this one. Although maybe it's just because, for once, the other side is another company who is often seen as overcharging for their software.
      But, like other situations, here we have MS wanting to include something that would pretty much make their stranglehold on office software even tighter. And would definitely jeopardise the competition. In this case, Adobe. And in most of those situations I find myself loudly wishing that Miscrosoft would FOAD.

      Yet, this time, I find mys

  • by Trelane (16124) on Friday June 02, 2006 @09:33AM (#15453819) Journal
    I bet I can see why the talks broke down. Licensing Java 1.1.1 to Microsoft for integration into Windows/IE worked out real well for Sun.

    Oh, to be a fly in that Adobe/Microsoft boardroom....

    Adobe:
    So, we're glad you want to license the PDF spec from us.
    Microsoft:
    Yeah, how 'bout that. Say, we thought it would value-enhance PDF to add the Win32DisplayDraw method to our implementation.
    Adobe:
    Umm, adding in Windows-specific bits would make the Portable Document Format kinda non-Portable, doncha think?
    Microsoft:
    Sure, but right now, the vast majority of your users use Windows, do they not?
    Adobe:
    Uh, yeeeah....
    Microsoft
    And you want them to have the richest eXPerience they can with your PDF format and tools, yes?
    Adobe:
    Yeeeaah...
    Microsoft:
    So why shouldn't we give them Win32PaintControl to take advantage of the capabilities of 99% of your userbase?
    Adobe:
    Because it's the Portable Document Format! Hey, wasn't "Win32PaintControl" "Win32DisplayDraw" just a second ago?
    Microsoft:
    [waves hand dismissively] Details, details. We thought that the whole Portable thing was funny, since the portability only matters to 0.001% of your customers.

    We also thought you might want to take advantage of the new encryption capabilities for protecting your customers' valuable data with the upcoming Vista Next Generation Secure Computing Base.

    Adobe:
    PORTABLE! How is "Vista-only" more portable than "Windows-only"?!
    Microsoft:
    We understand. You see, we have a passion for your business. We can see that these minor modifications to the PDF standard require quite a bit of time and effort to help upgrade your customers' eXPerience and open to them new Vistas in computing through our partnership. [gets out checkbook]. How much time and effort do you think you'll need?
    Adobe:
    [eyes checkbook hungrily] Fi... Hey. Aren't you working on a PDF competitor for this new "Vista in computing"?
    Microsoft:
    Now you're just being difficult. For a talking point in our Office 2007 feature laundry list, you're sure annoying us. I think we'd better settle this in the market. We've tried to be reasonable.
    Adobe:
    Fine with me. I'm outta here! Enough of this "Windows users are the only users" crapola. [gets up and heads out]
    Microsoft:
    What was that?! You say you'll sue us for anti-trust, because you won't license PDF to us! Greedy backstabbers!
    Adobe:
    [from a ways off, without looking back] portable!
    Microsoft:
    [rolls eyes, sighs] Always with the zealots....
  • by Ragica (552891) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:28PM (#15459553) Homepage
    That's what someone should do.

    On another topic, unfortunately its probably not possible to sue publications, like the linked one, that routinely print the following phrase (as they do in the linked story): "were not immediately reachable for comment" (emphasis, mine).

    Every story that prints that should be forced to replace it with: "You should know, by the way, that I am an ass sucking reporter who couldn't manage to communicate to principle sources for my story, though I may have put in minimal effort to do so (and I reserve the right to define minimal), and I work for an ass sucking publication who's editors don't give a sucked rat's ass, so we're publishing this possibly substanceless collection of blurbs but feel the need to add this line so it sounds like the principle subjects of the story suck even more ass than we do; except worded this way it's clear we suck even more ass than they do, oops (did I use a semicolon? sorry)." Or, just leave the useless and idiotic line out.

The absent ones are always at fault.

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