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The Internet

Domain Name Dispute Process Called Into Question 88

Chemist109 writes "The Register has an article about a study of the domain name dispute resolution process. The study accuses domain arbitrators of "actively choosing judges who favoured complainants (trademark holders)." Since the complainant in a domain dispute is allowed to choose where a case is heard, this ensures the arbitrators continued revenue."
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Domain Name Dispute Process Called Into Question

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  • I think that (Score:2, Insightful)

    Judges should be chosen together by both parties.

    Stupid ads
    Why do they have to be so big?
    Oh well.
  • yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by checkitout ( 546879 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @02:37PM (#3135208)
    I'd rather see it go to the trademark holders than to the domain squatters. It's ridiculous how many domains have been eaten up by company's whose sole purpose is to try and resell the domains for a higher price than they bought them for. It's much like scalping.
    • Re:yeah, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I too am annoyed by domain name speculation, but it really is no different from most capitalistic enterprises.
      After you condemn "sqautters" as companies "whose sole purpose is to try and resell the domains for a higher price than they bought them for," try substituting, say, the word "corn" for the word "domain.s" Does the statement still make sense? I don't think so.
      Do you condemn a company that buys corn, which they deviously have no intention of eating themselves, and then selling said corn for a higher price than they bought it for?
      There is really no difference in the two scenarios here. These arbitrations are meant to steal the investments of companies and individuals who were simply smart enough to get in early on a trend. As annoying as that might be, we have to promote and defend an even playing field in trade and not just hand over assets to big companies every chance we get simply because they can afford influence and expensive counsel.
      Now off to the cafe to buy coffee from a scalper barista.
      • Re:yeah, but... (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The difference is that corn is a commodity. It's something real, physical.

        Trademarks are not.

        'simply smart enough to get in early on a trend' sounds a lot like some guy who figures out a new way to cheat at poker.
  • Network solutions and the other companies have always been unfair in their administration. big companies like big companies, screw the little guy. Perhaps we should all just stick with IPs and forget the domain names. Who will say I AM GONNA SUE YOU, i have trademark issues with 101.145.162.98?
  • by almound ( 552970 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @02:55PM (#3135243) Homepage
    I'm having trouble just transfering my domain PERIOD! God only knows what kind of BS I would get if some mega-corporation decided it wanted my domain. Geesh...look what I got back even when I attempted to comply with this mafia's hoops of fire:

    ***********
    Thank you for contacting VeriSign.

    Your fax request was received, however, we have noticed the following problems. The sections marked by an "X" are missing information or have been incorrectly completed. Please make the necessary corrections and resubmit your request.

    *The authorization letter should be on the organization's letterhead as stated in our database.

    *The authorization letter did not reference a NIC-tracking number and/or a domain name. An example of a NIC-tracking
    number is NIC000414.1a2d.

    *The authorization letter referenced a NIC-tracking number that is either invalid or incorrect. Please provide the
    appropriate NIC-tracking number for your modification request. An example of a NIC-tracking number is NIC000414.1a2d.

    *There was not a template attached to the tracking number.

    *The authorization letter did not contain a statement of authorization.

    *The authorization letter was not signed.

    *The authorization letter was not accompanied by a signature and title of an individual with the authorization to legally bind the registrant. This authority is generally held by an officer of the company, or someone with one of the following titles: Owner, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, President, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Director, General Manager, General Partner, Managing Director, Sole Proprietor, Treasurer.

    *The authorization letter was not accompanied by proof of the registrant's identity, such as a copy of a driver's license, passport, military ID, university ID, etc. Please be sure to enlarge and lighten your photo-copy so that your transmission will be legible.

    *The authorization letter was not accompanied by proof of the registrant's address, such as a copy of a utility bill or phone bill that establishes his/her address as stated in our database.

    *The fax is missing pages or is illegible.

    Due to numerous attempts to corrupt files of domain records by unauthorized persons, if any of the above items is missing the faxed request will not be processed. We regret the inconvenience, however, it is necessary to protect the integrity of our clients' registrations.

    Please be sure to re-send your fax to 703-326-7000 with the following information:

    a) If the domain is registered to a company, it must be on company letterhead.
    b) If the request is to update a contact record or if it is for a domain that is owned by a person , a photo-copy of a state issued ID or passport. Please be sure to enlarge and lighten your photo-copy so that your transmission will be legible.
    c) Tracking # of your original email request to our hostmaster---see above
    d) Signature and Title of Company Officer or Contact who can take legal responsibility.
    e) Phone number and email address.

    Best regards,
    Kwame Am
    VeriSign, Inc.
    http://www.networksolutions.com

    **********

    Whatever you do ... DO NOT subject yourself to this kind of treatment by using a mafia like that which scrawled its name across the above communication. Treat yourself better than that.
    • Verisign/ Networksolutions is a nightmare (I think by design) if you want to make changes. The paperwork is as you pointed out endless. The alternative registration companies is doing an excellent job of handling the Byzantine requirements from Networksolutions. If you have a domain name and want to get back in control, you can have them transfer it for $13 or so. If you don't like the service provided by said Registrar, at least you can now transfer at will.
      • Or Godaddy.com (Score:2, Informative)

        by Daniel Wood ( 531906 )
        On the subject of better registrars, my experience with Godaddy has been excellent. Changine contact info, billing info, registrant info, name servers, etc is a click away. I have three domains registered with Godaddy.com and I intend to keep using them. Also, they have some of the best prices(I believe on par with dotster) around.
    • You can't really blame Verisign for being a bunch of hard-asses. If a domain was transferred illegally, it could open them up to some very serious legal consequences. Frankly, I think it is a good thing that they require all this information before they will perform such an act.

  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @02:57PM (#3135248) Homepage
    I wish Google would somehow formalize the search for domain names, so we could reduce this issue. I only type in domain names for very few sites, where I know the URL by heart. Most of the time I just hit Google and 9 times out of 10 the first suggestion is what I am looking for. Opera has the Google search box next to the URL address box so its almost as easy.
    • And don't forget that Konqueror has a similar feature: type "gg:" before the search terms to do a google search. Also helpful,"dict:". It's all under "enhanced browsing", under "Settings/configure konqueror"
    • I wish Google would somehow formalize the search for domain names

      It's an interesting idea, but it can't work. At least, that's my conclusion.

      Obviously, you can (and many do) already use google in preference to URL's by your own choice. But you are probably thinking of a system by which companies, etc can advertise a google URL, eg google://myco (and thus stop suing "little guys" over domain names). This URL would direct the browser to google "myco" and jump to the first hit.

      Now, imagine a company considering using google URLs's.:

      myco: So if people type
      google://myco, they'll get to my web site, even if we don't own myco.com?

      google: Sure, as long as myco is the top rated hit for that keyword.

      myco: And the ratings are determined how?

      google: By scanning random web pages and running them through our proprietary algorithms.

      *click*

      The alternative, of course, is that google can promise myco the top slot (for a price). But then google is effectively jut an alternate registrar, with even less accountability.

      • But then google is effectively jut an alternate registrar, with even less accountability.

        We are getting a little off topic here, but maybe just maybe this wouldn't be so bad.

        Google could get a stream of revenue that currently is going to the no one, at least no one I can think of.

        Companies would have a method to increase their own corporate site, at the expense of someone that often is holding the corporation "hostage". Example being the Barcelona.com lawsuit. Do anyone in their right mind think this should NOT belong to the city in Spain?

        Second, by having a method to buy placement you would alliviate the pressure on getting all the .net / .info /.eu /.tv /.whatever that is available.
        • Barcelona.com lawsuit. Do anyone in their right mind think this should NOT belong to the city in Spain?

          #1 If you are looking for a website about X, typing in X.com may often work, but you're a fool if you think it will always work, or *should* always work.

          #2 Why the hell should it get barcelona.COMmercial? Do they also get barcelona.ORGanization? barcelona.EDUcational? barcelona.NETwork?

          #3 There more than one city named Barcelona.

          #4 It would wreak havok if you tried to do this for every city in the world. (Casino Australia, Enterprise Alabama, Canadian Texas, and my favorite - Usa Japan)

          #5 I believe that according to Spanish and American trademark law the city is prohibited from trademarking "Barcelona". They may apply for a trademark on Barcelona + another word. In this case they are claiming Barcelona + ".com". Claiming a trademark on something they never had, never used, and someone else already owns is dumb.

          Now, does anyone in their right mind think this should belong to the city in Spain?

          -
        • Example being the Barcelona.com lawsuit. Do anyone in their right mind think this should NOT belong to the city in Spain?

          Wouldn't barcelona.es be the logical choice anyway? I'm surprised to see how few people remember the national domains.

    • With Opera, you can type "g " and get your google results without farting around at all...

      (there are a dozen other one-letter shortcuts for the URL bar, too...)
  • by Bowfinger ( 559430 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @02:58PM (#3135250)
    I don't see how this study provides much useful information. There are two reasons that complainants may win most cases. The article suggests that it's because the judges are biased. It is just as likely that the complainants win most cases because their complaints are valid.

    I'm not suggesting that the process it truly fair. Like just about everything else these days, I'm sure the playing field is slanted heavily in favor of commercial interests with deep pockets. I just don't think there's enough information here to prove bias.

    The study would be more meaningful if it focused on complaints where the defendant had a plausible justification for keeping a domain. I don't know how you can do this objectively. If you make subjective decisions about which complaints are included, it would color statistical analysis of the data.

    At a minimum, I'd like to drop the no-brainers before tallying results. It's pretty obvious to me that Pepsico should have the rights to pepsi.com, pepsicola.com, and pepsico.com. It's a unique name, it shouldn't be a surprise that the judges would rule in Pepsi's favor. I'd like to know how they rule on names like pepsi-sucks.com or pepsi-lovers.com, and on names that could legitimately belong to a number of entities, for example abc.com or johnson.com.

    Anyone have better information?

    • "It's pretty obvious to me that Pepsico should have the rights to pepsi.com, pepsicola.com, and pepsico.com. It's a unique name, it shouldn't be a surprise that the judges would rule in Pepsi's favor."

      There are a lot of products that are flavored with pepsin and I'd be willing to wager that at least one of them is called "Pepsi". They have as much justification for the pepsi.com domain as the soft drink giant. Note: not "right". No one, not the major corporations or the plucky kid with a computer in his mom's basement, has a right to a domain name.

    • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @04:01PM (#3135362)
      I don't know an sort of count, but if you read The Register frequently, you'll see a LOT of stories about really stupid decision in domain name cases. Like Vivendi Universal won the rights to vivendiuniversalsucks.com because "non-English speakers might not understand what sucks means and get confused." What else... I'm not positive on the details here, but I think Ford won the rights to jaguar.com from some little girl that had a site with hand drawn pictures of jaguars (the animals). I've seen plenty of really stupid decisions, and I certainly get the impression that the vast majority of domains get transferred ownership, no matter how legit they are.
    • What is significant, in my mind, is not the 95% of decisions in favor of the complainant, which could legitamately come from domain name squatters, but the discrepency stated between the 1-judge and 3-judge results. When the defendant gets control of half the judging panel, suddenly the panel rules in their favor more than half the time. So if we assume, that on average the cases should be decided the same way regardless of the number of judges, then this result is saying, not surprisingly, that if only 1 side chooses the judge then the judge rules in favor of that side. Gee, I wonder why that might be?
    • >The article suggests that it's because the judges are biased.

      I didn't get this impression. There are several pieces of reasoning that the article offers, and none of them directly point to the judges being biased. First, there are two sets of arbiters. One set receives the majority of business (i.e. is picked most often by complainents). The other (maybe just one company?) receives considerably less business (i.e. complainants don't often pick it). Cases in this second set are in fact still slanted statistically towards the complainant (I think ~60%), but considerably less so than the first set. This suggests that companies pick arbiters from the first set more often due to this very reason.

      The article points out that there are significant statistical anomolies in selection of judges which is supposed to be random. The most extreme example was that something like 5 judges at one arbiter tried some very high percentage of the cases, of which 95% were won by the complainants.

      In short, the article is not saying that judges are biased, but is pointing out that someone needs to look much more closely at the procedures required of the arbiters, and at the system of allowing the complainant to pick which arbiter they would like to use. I agree with you that there is not enough information to prove any bias, but I would not agree with the statement that the information in the article and study is not meaningful enough to suggest that a review/examination be done by a 3rd party. Some judges _may_ be biased, and this should be looked at. The system itself also may be inherently biased, and this should be examined as well.
  • Title? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Lethyos ( 408045 )
    Domain Name Dispute Process Called Into Question

    I was under the impression that this dispute has been ongoing for quite a long while. The whole process is inherently flawed and geared to please corporations (how many domains held by individuals have been seized by corporations?) and is a matter of controversy. Silly /. journalism! I thought this site was about news. :)
  • Money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@nosPam.snkmail.com> on Saturday March 09, 2002 @03:12PM (#3135272) Journal
    Domain name registrars and company are in this business to make money. And considering the tight competition in the market for domain name services, this is not surprising.

    The thing is, even if the process was changed to favour the other side of the argument, it would still be biased and a problem would still exist.

    I think that this is a strong reason for having a real 'cyber-court' so that technology and internet issues can get judged without having to worry about judges and juries who don't understand technology or the issues. I mean, the current law (and media) system knows its way around fraud/murder/typical crimes cases very well, but the number of judges that understand technology issues, I would expect, is very small. But if governments stepped up and formally came up with a group with the knowledge and tools to solve problems that traditional goverments know little or nothing about, then we would be one step closer to having an internet and legal system that was more in favour of the people in the right as opposed to the people with the money (although sometimes those groups overlap.)

    • I have to disagree.

      The domain name questions that keep coming up - they are not different or requiring any type of special knowledge outside of normal trademark law.

      Specialized courts and judges are really a bad idea - they end up causing more harm than good in most cases.
      Br I agree that the domain resolution process is fatally flawed - however the answer is not some specialized new-style cyber court. The actual answer is *actual* court. Waiving your right to acutal trials should never be a condition of registering a domain. Domain name disputes belong in federal court.
  • Sounds Familiar? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rakeswell ( 538134 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @03:16PM (#3135281) Homepage

    Why does this story sound familiar?

    Fair Domain-Dispute Arbitration Firm Quits the Business [slashdot.org] (Slashdot 12/05)

    Here's the story the /. article links to:

    Arbitration Firm Quits Domain-Dispute Business [newsbytes.com]

    I think it's nice to see a study validate the anecdotal evidence given by the arbitration firm mentioned in the /. story. What's odd to me is that in this system of arbitration, the parties, in essence, get to choose the judges. It makes me think of the whole wrong-headed style of journalism that's pervasive today that assumes that to do a fair story, you interview people at the extremes of an issue, and decide that the truth is somewhere in the middle, without ever considering that one or both sides are simply wrong.

    Isn't this precisely why judges (int he US) are assigned to cases based on a lottery system?

  • Scrotor? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2002 @03:19PM (#3135287)
    I sent $5 to some guys to register scrotor.biz, my new domain, because, I own a small business and I am really looking into profits because, the future is in the dot bizs today.

    Heck, I'd better had given this monay to subscribe to the new slashdot subscription system (altho I really like the big ads). The dudes, just stole the name, registered scrotor.biz for themselves and now ask $1000 for it.

    Posting anonymously, because I don't want to reveal my name nor the name of my company.
    • This guy is full of it. I did a whois on this one and it comes back with, "There were no records matching your WHOIS query." Hmmm, this guy might be trying to up his /. karma image instead of including valuable information/feedback to this valuable forum. Thanks for the dung.

      ooooo -- penguin dung
  • by Ali Jenab ( 565034 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @03:27PM (#3135303)
    One of my close friends had owned a very desirable 3-letter .com domain since 1994. He had received several (pitifully small) offers from a large corporation to purchase the domain name, but he had no interest in accomodating their demands. Sure enough, the company dragged it before ICANN not once, not twice, but three times before they got the result they wanted. After spending a few hundred dollars on attorneys' bills, my friend gave up and dropped the matter.

    Now, since he makes over $100k a year as a consultant, he gives generously to the EFF and is a vocal opponent of ICANN and their pro-corporatist domain dispute rules. He is actively working for change in the system, and although the road is long, I am confident that someday we will win this battle.

    /ali

  • A fair dispute-resolution process would be like this:

    1. Anyone is allowed to run a DNS server, and put whatever information on it they like
    2. Anyone is allowed to point to anyone else's DNS server
    3. There is no intellectual property in any correspondence between IP addresses and domain names

    In consequence, anything goes, and if someone doesn't like someone else's lookup table, they can create their own and hope people use it. If people don't want to, tough.

    Having said that, I don't think it's important anymore, most people look in up in Google rather than trying to guess the URL.

  • by Garry Anderson ( 194949 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @04:05PM (#3135374) Homepage
    First off - trademarks are a good thing - for consumer and business.

    Fact: UDRP is bull* propaganda.

    For one thing, it goes against Unfair Competition Law - they give priority to one business above others, who share the same word(s) or initials. For another they abridge the use of words to the people.

    I have been in contact, for quite some time, with US and UK authorities (and lawyers) on these domain and trademark problems.

    Virtually every word is trademarked, be it Alpha to Omega or Aardvark to Zulu, most many times over.

    MOST share the same words or initials with MANY others in a different business and/or country.

    For example, the World Trade Organization - WTO shares its initials with six trademarks - in the U.S. alone. The same with any initials, International Trade Centre - ITC, International Monetary Fund - IMF etc., etc., etc.

    Same for any word apple, ball, cat etc., etc., etc. They all are shared by many other businesses.

    The United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization and the United States Department of Commerce know the answer to exclusively identify ALL trademark domains.

    It would allow ALL to use their trademark, without 'consumer confusion', 'trademark conflict' and 'passing off'.

    Based on all evidence, I believe the authorities are corrupt. If they truly wanted rid of these problems, why do they not use the solution?

    People and small non-trademarked businesses could then use domains without these excuses being used to take away (steal) their legal property in UDRP.

    The simple solution was ratified by honest attorneys - including the honourable G. Gervaise Davis III, UN WIPO panellist judge.

    Please visit WIPO.org.uk [wipo.org.uk] to see - no connection with United Nations WIPO.org.
    • I've pointed out the obvious solution before, much like your own trademark registry. I'm going to assume that the problem is laziness because the alternative reasons I have in mind are basically libelous. Ahem...

      The people managing domains are lazy scrotes with no backbone or vision. Typical corporate management types really. The solution is so simple and so obvious that they can't possibly have missed it.

      The solution is described here:
      http://www.yelm.freeserve.co.uk/dns/

      It's a simple solution which would actually make registrars money, but it would mean that they'd have to do their jobs and validate domain creation requests.

      • What you state is obviously true, "The new TLDs that ICANN are proposing will simply cause more chaos. They will not solve anything."

        They use these new gTLDs and Sunrise Period as propaganda - I say the same thing on my site:

        Ask them to deny this:

        THOUSANDs of new 'open' TLDs will not solve any problem - even if every one has 'Sunrise Period'

        It will not solve 'consumer confusion', 'trademark conflict' or stop anybody 'passing off'.

        Also, as an example on Sunrise, thousands of trademarks using word 'Apple' have no guarantee of being able to use name.

        Apple computers will still protect and make claim to every Apple.[anything] - even though they share word with 727 others in the USA alone (plus all those in 200+ countries).

        Sunrise gives Big Business priority over the people and is unfair to small businesses without a trademark.

        Like you say, "The solution is so simple and so obvious that they can't possibly have missed it."

        This is just two reasons why I believe them corrupt.

        Your managed heirarchy solution is the obvious technical solution - except for registered trademarks - they HAVE TO USE four attributes to make unique. Every trademark is distinctive from others or declared invalid.

        Four essential requirements:

        1. name
        2. classification
        3. country
        4. trademark identifier

        Nobody in the Legal Profession has denied this.
  • Look at 2600 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kiltedtaco ( 213773 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @04:39PM (#3135440) Homepage
    Just look at all the crap 2600 had to go thru. (http://www.2600.com)

    In my opinion, the entire concept of how domain names are registered has to go. You should only be allowed ONE domain per trademark. None of this

    www.ford.com/net/org/biz/mil/gov/us/edu

    www.fordcars.com/net/org/biz/mil/gov/us/edu

    www.ilikeford.com/net/org/biz/mil/gov/us/edu

    www.fordcarsaredangerous.com/net/org/biz/mil/gov /u s/edu

    This is silly. And im still siting here without a domain because i dont wana pay 20$ a year to some company for one line in their zone file.

    http://www.open-rsc.org is the only way to go.
  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by NiftyNews ( 537829 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @04:52PM (#3135474) Homepage
    Wait a minute, so you're saying that the people with money are influencing the people with power?

    Stop the presses, I don't believe it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just went through this with the STOP process for a disputed .biz domain. Arbitration is an utter scam!

    First, arbitration is completely unregulated. The National Arbitration Forum can go down to the nearest bar and pull in drunks, give them money, and call them arbitrators. And there's nothing you can do about it.

    I objected to the arbitrator I got stuck with, as he wasn't qualified under the law. Guess who judges the objections? Yep - the good old NAF. A different drunk who's on the same payroll. What we have here are the foxes guarding the chicken coop. And they could care less about your objections, the law, or any sense of fairness.

    They don't have to. The NAF is a law unto itself.

    Sorry for the ranting here, but I'm pissed about this scam.

    You ought to be concerned too, unless you'll never sign a contract with a binding arbitration clause. More and more estential services require these now - good luck in avoiding this.

  • This obviously goes against Slashdot party line, but I say that

    UDRP is a good thing!

    Our company has lately been a target for two squatting attempts. Most of the WIPO and NAF cases are like ours: Some schmuck registers company.net or company.biz before the company in question, and then tries to extort money for it. As a response, we always file a UDRP complaint.

    Let me go through what you need to prove to take the domain name from the holder:

    0. That you have paid at least $950 to file the dispute (for a single domain name). It is not free. On top of this you have the lawyer fees.

    1. The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to your trademark or service mark. That is, you need to have registered the mark earlier. No one can challenge a name that is not their mark.

    2. The domain name holder has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name. If the current holder has legitimate interest in the domain name, there is no case!

    3. The name has been registered and is being used in bad faith. Bad faith is defined as (but not limited to) offering to sell it or being in the business of selling domain names, that is, being a domain name squatter. Or, registering the name in purpose of disrupting your business, or preventing the trademark owner from doing business with the name. Or, deliberately misleading people to your website in search of the trademark owner.

    The cases in which the respondent has a valid argument are a very small minority. Most of the decisions serve a valid purpose of protecting trademarks.

    vivendiuniversalsucks.com is an exception. But in the case filings I see that they did not try to pass as a parody - parody would be protected by trademark law. Remember that you can always challenge a UDRP decision in other courts! That's what this guy should have done, I think.

    And for the people who say the UDRP favors big business: Of course it does! But so does trademark law. The biggest companies usually have the most recognized trademarks in the audience. And here the audience is the world. If you select n Internet users at random, and ask them which company they would associate "Apple" to, most of them give Apple computer corporation as answer. This is the reasoning why Apple should own apple.com.

    However, in the cases where the respondent is found to have a legitimate interest in the domain name, I think the complainant should pay all his lawyer fees.

    What comes to the complainant selecting the judges, that is the way arbitration is usually done. And, let me say it again: if you do not like the decision, go ahead and challenge it in a real court!

    UDRP FAQ at ChillingEffects.org [chillingeffects.org]

Whatever is not nailed down is mine. Whatever I can pry up is not nailed down. -- Collis P. Huntingdon, railroad tycoon

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