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Brick Wars - Anyone outside Germany taking notice?


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28 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

It's about sets looking VERY MUCH LIKE the Xenomorphs from the movies. No doubt. BUT some designs and names cannot be protected - like in this case. And if something IS not protected everyone can make their own sets about it. That's actually happening in ALL kinds of businesses and the toy business especially, not only in the brick market. All 100% legal - just visit your local toy store any time and you'll see hundreds of examples for this.

You cannot sell copyright-infringing brick sets in Germany or you'll go to jail. I've posted this multiple times and hope people will start to accept it.

https://www.bluebrixx.com/de/scifi/100885/XBA-04002-The-New-Alien-Xingbao

https://www.bluebrixx.com/de/scifi/100889/XBA-04001-Alien-Roboter-Xingbao

So if its not protected, why don't they call the product Alien Xenomorph and slap it on the box ? 

 

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1 hour ago, Frank Brickowski said:

It's about sets looking VERY MUCH LIKE the Xenomorphs from the movies. No doubt. BUT some designs and names cannot be protected - like in this case. And if something IS not protected everyone can make their own sets about it. That's actually happening in ALL kinds of businesses and the toy business especially, not only in the brick market. All 100% legal - just visit your local toy store any time and you'll see hundreds of examples for this.

You cannot sell copyright-infringing brick sets in Germany or you'll go to jail. I've posted this multiple times and hope people will start to accept it.

https://www.bluebrixx.com/de/scifi/100885/XBA-04002-The-New-Alien-Xingbao

https://www.bluebrixx.com/de/scifi/100889/XBA-04001-Alien-Roboter-Xingbao

I'll just have to shrug.  I get that in Germany you can't sell copyright-infringing sets.  And maybe there's no licensing issue?  I just don't know.  Again, I'm shrugging.  I just don't get how BlueBrixx can be making toys using a property without licensing the IP from the IP holder.

I don't see that happening in the US.  

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1 hour ago, roxio said:

alien.jpg

1 hour ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Well the text box in the bottom left I believe reads "Author Licensed" so at least there is that going for this Arvo Brothers MOC from 2016. The creature itself is still originally based off H.R. Giger's artwork with the franchise presently owned by Disney. While there is some deviation from the source material, I still find it difficult to believe there is enough of a difference between the property and this set here for it to be sold fine as is. But since it is, I have to assume the quota of legality is being met.

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BlueBrixx is committing blatant trademark infringement and isn't going to last with the xeno chestbuster and "Alien Robot". They've taken down the "classic ambulance" from the SF category which was a clone of Ecto-1 . . . I don't think you can argue that a repurposed hearse with ghost hunting equipment is a classic NYC ambulance. 

 

 

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 7.25.23 PM.png

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3 hours ago, Frank Brickowski said:

BlueBrixx is a German company, located in Germany, operating under German law, having opened 8 brick & mortar stores in Germany in 2020. They have a YouTube Channel with 50,000 followers. They are the official German general importer for Xingbao. They collaborate with MOCers like RobenAnne (Old Fishing Store) and have released their own officially licensed sets ("Kingdom Come Deliverance" & "Das Schwarze Auge"). They have several in-house designers developing their own sets according to what German AFOLs would actually like to have (trains, cars, Medieval buildings, architecture etc.).

By the way, BlueBrixx also produce several US-themed cars, trucks, trains and other vehicles you've never seen and WILL never see from LEGO.

What are some popular BlueBrixx-exclusive sets?

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I've been loosely following this thread and it seems to be getting quite heated at times.  So I ended up doing some digging and found an interesting article that may shed some light for those of us in the USA.  After reading the article, I went back a reread everything in this thread and in the beginning of the thread the top YouTube brick personality Held der Steine was mentioned and then it went into many tangents.  The article below suggests that this LEGO vs German brick fight began with him.

The article: https://www.stonewars.de/news/lego-vs-held-der-steine/

The above article said that there doesn't appear to be any problem until Held der Steine tried to apply for his own EU trademark which included a depiction of a 2x2 LEGO brick.

While LEGO no longer owns the copywrite on the LEGO brick, the image clearly looks like a LEGO brick.  My first thought is, this is typical of any USA company when someone uses a likeness they determine to be like theirs.  They will sue and put someone out of business rather than allow someone to use anything that looks like their likeness.  In Held der Steine's case, apparently he was offended that LEGO sent him a letter telling him to not use the image.  This is pretty standard practice for a company (any company) to do.  I'm not saying it is good or right, but I could totally see this happening in the USA.  In fact, that first contact letter would normally be a registered letter, which could then be used as evidence in any necessary legal proceedings.

Whether the guy is guilty or not, it appears that he did change the image for his copywrite logo and then went on a tear against LEGO with many people taking Held der Steine's side in the case.  

The article could be biased but it feels like this guy is pissed at LEGO and is taking it out on them.

Edited by exracer327
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re: Bluebrixx - lots of nice looking stuff.  However, I noticed that although they do not always use the name they will use the likeness of many well known copyrighted items and give them generic names.  I.E. Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino (called - 1974 Sedan Coupe), USS Nimitz (labeled as Aircraft Carrier and includes CVN-68 in the name), Ford Mustang (called - Green US Muscle car), Battlestar Galactica (the Galactica but it is called "Mothership", Viper (uses actual name), Centurion fighter (uses actual name) and Basestar (called - Centurion Spacestation). 

I would love to know if they have licenses for those products.  But if they did, then why not call them by name?  And with the Nimitz set, it is very specifically named.  So sets on the site are inconsistent, which does not give me a lot of confidence to buy from them.

When LEGO puts out a product, you can trust that it is licensed because it uses the actual name and not something generic.  This is one of the reasons LEGO is more expensive.

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7 hours ago, tyskr28 said:

Its important to note the difference in selling instructions vs. sets the way most independent moc designers do, as this does change things and moves copyright into an even grayer area, here simply changing to a non trademarked name might be enough, it's a bit harder to say definitively.

I think this gets at my point about why if I order one from Xingbao site shipped to UK, they won't send me the product box, even though it's shown on the site. If customs open it, it will just look like loose bagged bricks and instructions.

This is certainly what Xingbao parent LEPlN bricks was doing when they were selling their Star Plan (Star Wars) knock-offs

Edited by roxio
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There might be some copyright violations but one set you may never get from lego is the Yihong Brothel from Xingbao. 😄 I do think the traditional chinese architecture is done quite nicely though.

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4 hours ago, exracer327 said:

re: Bluebrixx - lots of nice looking stuff.  However, I noticed that although they do not always use the name they will use the likeness of many well known copyrighted items and give them generic names.  I.E. Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino (called - 1974 Sedan Coupe), USS Nimitz (labeled as Aircraft Carrier and includes CVN-68 in the name), Ford Mustang (called - Green US Muscle car), Battlestar Galactica (the Galactica but it is called "Mothership", Viper (uses actual name), Centurion fighter (uses actual name) and Basestar (called - Centurion Spacestation). 

I would love to know if they have licenses for those products.  But if they did, then why not call them by name?  And with the Nimitz set, it is very specifically named.  So sets on the site are inconsistent, which does not give me a lot of confidence to buy from them.

When LEGO puts out a product, you can trust that it is licensed because it uses the actual name and not something generic.  This is one of the reasons LEGO is more expensive.

For military vehicles I'm guessing they are not trademarked since brickmania has been making them for ages, those from movies I guess it really depends on the studio. 

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What I really dont understand is the hate against lego, the only thing is if he his the owner of bluebrixx and just uses the bad publicity from lego for his brand. Thats okay, but for a normal AFOL it just a waste of energy in my opinion.

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20 minutes ago, Sozial said:

What I really dont understand is the hate against lego, the only thing is if he his the owner of bluebrixx and just uses the bad publicity from lego for his brand. Thats okay, but for a normal AFOL it just a waste of energy in my opinion.

At the end of the day, your money your choice. I tried bogus bricks many years back and was not impressed by the quality and missing bricks. Things may have changed now with other brands but what I do know is the quality I get from lego even though it is not exactly the cheapest.

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9 hours ago, tyskr28 said:

With the familiar disclaimer that I am not a lawyer, I will add that this set in particular is skirting a very fine line, if not crossing it. In the U.S. at least. It certainly shares a very strong resemblance to the Alien Chestburster, which as noted above was designed and created by the artist HR Giger for the movie, originally owned by 21st Century Fox I believe and now Disney. Copyrights for graphic characters (which this would fall under as a primarily visual character and recognisable by distinctive visual characteristics) are good for a minimum 50 years, if it is trademarked this can be renewed indefinitely (trademark and copyright are different yes, but share many of the same legal characteristics, as has been seen over the past 20 years). There are many ins and outs to copyright law, again I'm not a lawyer, but in my work copyrights, reproduction rights and licensing are something we deal with frequently. People like to use concrete terms when it comes to copyright but in the end it doesn't matter if you sell/use something as an "outer space bug" as opposed to "Alien Chestburster", or change a minor aspect of it's appearance, there is no guarantee that this is enough differentiation to avoid litigation. In the end it is up to a judge to determine if something is infringing on a copyright. In copyright law for visual designs and products this has to do with a combination of factors that are examined; appearance, context, character traits, and of course, precedence. I'm certainly no expert but based on my dealings I would highly recommend any retailer stay away from selling this product, especially with Disney as the new copyright holders.

Its one thing for the Arvo bros to sell it on their own website, it's likely not worth the legal expense for Disney to pursue, but if a large organized company (for instance a company in a position to challenge LEGO's market position) is using this likeness to make money without permission (and maybe they do have permission for all I know) it is only a matter of time. And while a small outfit may get a cease and desist as a warning, a larger company likely would not, especially if the copyright holder thinks they are making any decent sum of money or are using the copyrighted material in a way the copyright holder does not approve of. And no, the offender would not get thrown in jail, but they could be charged a hefty sum and face other civil consequences depending on the circumstances. Its important to note the difference in selling instructions vs. sets the way most independent moc designers do, as this does change things and moves copyright into an even grayer area, here simply changing to a non trademarked name might be enough, it's a bit harder to say definitively. But when larger companies get involved with this it is very problematic, it's easy to say what's the big deal it's just big bad Disney but imagine if LEGO published an original design of a distinctive character by a moc designer, changed a few bricks and the name of the character with no credit to the designer then you begin to see why. Of course in fact this does happen all the time, unfortunately independent designers and artists frequently don't have the resources to take big companies to court, which in a perverse way is why it is all the more important for these large copyright holders to fight these things because they are often the only ones who can.

In any event its certainly not ethical and likely not legal.

 

Edit:.If you made it through that wall of text, congats lol. 

Thanks for your detailed take on it. A lot of what you say is right. In the end all that matter is: If you have been selling these sets in Germany for over 2 years as a big company like BlueBrixx is, they must be legal. But first of all the founder of BlueBrixx is a toy/model bulding veteran having succeeded in court against Volkswagen before regarding car models - he knows perfectly what you can and what you cannot do according to all laws involved. And if you can sell these sets in Germany, you can also sell them in the US. I don't know we people seem to think that something that's legally sold in Germany could be illegal in the US. There might be special examples where this is the case. But not when it's about design or copyright or the like. German and US laws are pretty much the same in this field.

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12 hours ago, roxio said:

So if its not protected, why don't they call the product Alien Xenomorph and slap it on the box ? 

 

I see the word "ALIENS" on one box, so obviously this word is not protected. "ALIEN" (singular) might be protected, so they don't use it. Clever decision. 100% legal. What's the problem?

 

11 hours ago, Alpinemaps said:

I'll just have to shrug.  I get that in Germany you can't sell copyright-infringing sets.  And maybe there's no licensing issue?  I just don't know.  Again, I'm shrugging.  I just don't get how BlueBrixx can be making toys using a property without licensing the IP from the IP holder.

I don't see that happening in the US.  

If there was a licensing issue, they would not sell it. BlueBrixx use the property they use without licensing the IP because what they ARE using is not protected. Simple as that. This is 100% legal in Germany and the US. I don't understand why people here always ask first if this or that might not be forbidden instead of being happy about everything that's allowed (also for MOCing for instance). 

 

11 hours ago, TheOrcKing said:

Well the text box in the bottom left I believe reads "Author Licensed" so at least there is that going for this Arvo Brothers MOC from 2016. The creature itself is still originally based off H.R. Giger's artwork with the franchise presently owned by Disney. While there is some deviation from the source material, I still find it difficult to believe there is enough of a difference between the property and this set here for it to be sold fine as is. But since it is, I have to assume the quota of legality is being met.

If they sell it in Germany, it's legal.
 

10 hours ago, Mark Twain said:

BlueBrixx is committing blatant trademark infringement and isn't going to last with the xeno chestbuster and "Alien Robot". They've taken down the "classic ambulance" from the SF category which was a clone of Ecto-1 . . . I don't think you can argue that a repurposed hearse with ghost hunting equipment is a classic NYC ambulance. 

 

 

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 7.25.23 PM.png

If I were you I'd watch my words a bit more because accusing BlueBrixx of copyright infringement without knowing much about anything really could get yourself in legal trouble on the other hand.

 

9 hours ago, $20 on joe vs dan said:

if you know what it is just by looking at it...it's infringing somewhere

leave it to the lawyers to add the details, but it's really as simple as that, imo.

Just because anything looks like something else does not mean there HAS to be some infringing going on. I wonder why no one has mentioned what "inspiration" LEGO has taken from IDEAS projects in the past years...

 

6 hours ago, exracer327 said:

re: Bluebrixx - lots of nice looking stuff.  However, I noticed that although they do not always use the name they will use the likeness of many well known copyrighted items and give them generic names.  I.E. Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino (called - 1974 Sedan Coupe), USS Nimitz (labeled as Aircraft Carrier and includes CVN-68 in the name), Ford Mustang (called - Green US Muscle car), Battlestar Galactica (the Galactica but it is called "Mothership", Viper (uses actual name), Centurion fighter (uses actual name) and Basestar (called - Centurion Spacestation). 

I would love to know if they have licenses for those products.  But if they did, then why not call them by name?  And with the Nimitz set, it is very specifically named.  So sets on the site are inconsistent, which does not give me a lot of confidence to buy from them.

When LEGO puts out a product, you can trust that it is licensed because it uses the actual name and not something generic.  This is one of the reasons LEGO is more expensive.

 

Well, names like "Gran Torino", "Starsky & Hutch", "Ford Mustang" are protected. Obviously. So only an idiot would use these names. The car designs are NOT protected. So you can use those. Just give it another name and you're fine. As I said, the founder of BlueBrixx has succeeded against Volkswagen in court before when they argued about the design of model cars, the German toy association on his side. Volkswagen lost.

Once again: If you don't use a name or design that is protected, there's no problem. If they use the name "Viper" or "Centurion Fighter", well, you can be 100% sure the name has no copyright - otherwise they would not use it (see the "Razor Crest" story with ModBrix and Disney for comparison). BlueBrixx and all other currently operating German alternative brick sellers had to become experts regarding all this and they know very well what they can and cannot do because they know all the laws in detail.

 

1 hour ago, coelian said:

At the end of the day, your money your choice. I tried bogus bricks many years back and was not impressed by the quality and missing bricks. Things may have changed now with other brands but what I do know is the quality I get from lego even though it is not exactly the cheapest.

Problem is, many of the alternative brick brands HAD an insufficient quality only 2 years ago. But they evolved in astonishing speed. Brands like COBI for instance are known to be ON PAR with LEGO bricks meanwhile, while many of the Chinese brands are in the range of 95-99% of LEGO quality. And a lot of German AFOLs are not ready anymore to pay 100% more money for 0-5% higher quality - and still not get the sets they want (LEGO).

Edited by Frank Brickowski
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11 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Thanks for your detailed take on it. A lot of what you say is right. In the end all that matter is: If you have been selling these sets in Germany for over 2 years as a big company like BlueBrixx is, they must be legal. But first of all the founder of BlueBrixx is a toy/model bulding veteran having succeeded in court against Volkswagen before regarding car models - he knows perfectly what you can and what you cannot do according to all laws involved. And if you can sell these sets in Germany, you can also sell them in the US. I don't know we people seem to think that something that's legally sold in Germany could be illegal in the US. There might be special examples where this is the case. But not when it's about design or copyright or the like. German and US laws are pretty much the same in this field.

You're welcome. In reply to your post, I really can't speak to Germany and the legal system there, and while I know that many of the copyright laws are the same (partially because of international trade agreements) it is important to note that it's not just about how the laws are written but also about how they are interpreted. In the U.S. there are differences in interpretation from district to district (although usually once a law is interpreted and ruled on the courts continue to follow it that way, this is called precedence) it very well may be that german courts interpret the law slightly differently which may allow Bluebrixx to operate the way it does. As I said before this isn't as black and white as many people think. I can definitely say that given the litigous nature of the U.S. (and laws that favor the ability to sue regardless of merit) that Bluebrixx would be challenged in this country and even if not successful the legal costs of defending itself against the various copyright and trademark holders would likely make it impossible to continue business here, regardless of the outcome. Unless of course they have some very deep pockets.

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12 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Thanks for your detailed take on it. A lot of what you say is right. In the end all that matter is: If you have been selling these sets in Germany for over 2 years as a big company like BlueBrixx is, they must be legal.

Yes I have been shoplifting for two years and wasnt caught so far, so shoplifting is legal in the US of course.

21 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

But first of all the founder of BlueBrixx is a toy/model bulding veteran having succeeded in court against Volkswagen before regarding car models - he knows perfectly what you can and what you cannot do according to all laws involved.

I researched it and its true, but this part of ruling is just for a special type, you cannot generalize it.

22 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

And if you can sell these sets in Germany, you can also sell them in the US. I don't know we people seem to think that something that's legally sold in Germany could be illegal in the US. There might be special examples where this is the case. But not when it's about design or copyright or the like. German and US laws are pretty much the same in this field.

Just no. 

and now I am out here, as rightfully said here is the wrong audiance for it.

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6 hours ago, exracer327 said:

I've been loosely following this thread and it seems to be getting quite heated at times.  So I ended up doing some digging and found an interesting article that may shed some light for those of us in the USA.  After reading the article, I went back a reread everything in this thread and in the beginning of the thread the top YouTube brick personality Held der Steine was mentioned and then it went into many tangents.  The article below suggests that this LEGO vs German brick fight began with him.

The article: https://www.stonewars.de/news/lego-vs-held-der-steine/

The above article said that there doesn't appear to be any problem until Held der Steine tried to apply for his own EU trademark which included a depiction of a 2x2 LEGO brick.

While LEGO no longer owns the copywrite on the LEGO brick, the image clearly looks like a LEGO brick.  My first thought is, this is typical of any USA company when someone uses a likeness they determine to be like theirs.  They will sue and put someone out of business rather than allow someone to use anything that looks like their likeness.  In Held der Steine's case, apparently he was offended that LEGO sent him a letter telling him to not use the image.  This is pretty standard practice for a company (any company) to do.  I'm not saying it is good or right, but I could totally see this happening in the USA.  In fact, that first contact letter would normally be a registered letter, which could then be used as evidence in any necessary legal proceedings.

Whether the guy is guilty or not, it appears that he did change the image for his copywrite logo and then went on a tear against LEGO with many people taking Held der Steine's side in the case.  

The article could be biased but it feels like this guy is pissed at LEGO and is taking it out on them.

The problem is HOW LEGO is communicating with people. They behave like a dictator, not accepting they're not a monopoly anymore. People don't like this behaviour, so they started hating and making fun of them. Meanwhile anyone in Germany buying the LEGO Technic Ferrari will be laughed at massively by all other brick fans, after millions have seen what they get from the CaDa model at the same price (motors, remote control, remote-controlled shifting, LED lights, more parts, no stickers, sleak design, no giant gaps etc.)

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7 minutes ago, Sozial said:

Yes I have been shoplifting for two years and wasnt caught so far, so shoplifting is legal in the US of course.

I researched it and its true, but this part of ruling is just for a special type, you cannot generalize it.

Just no. 

and now I am out here, as rightfully said here is the wrong audiance for it.

Bad comparison first. No argument second. Nice. Good luck.

BlueBrixx selling this is acutally like WALMART selling this in the US (not comparing the size, but the public "visibility"). This is no hidden backyard business operation. They're the biggest German online retailer for alternative bricks and have 8 physical stores. Saying they could sell anything illegal for abotu 2 years just beacuse no one has noticed, is just totally... well, you're simply wrong.

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1 minute ago, Frank Brickowski said:

The problem is HOW LEGO is communicating with people. They behave like a dictator, not accepting they're not a monopoly anymore. People don't like this behaviour, so they started hating and making fun of them. Meanwhile anyone in Germany buying the LEGO Technic Ferrari will be laughed at massively by all other brick fans, after millions have seen what they get from the CaDa model at the same price (motors, remote control, remot-controlled shifting, LED lights, more parts, not stickers, sleak design, no giant gaps etc.)

There is just so much anger in your posts. Hard to comprehend. And yes I can see 12 year old children laughing at each other because mum bought a set from amazon instead of getting a CaDa model. Hilarious!

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2 minutes ago, Sozial said:

There is just so much anger in your posts. Hard to comprehend. And yes I can see 12 year old children laughing at each other because mum bought a set from amazon instead of getting a CaDa model. Hilarious!

Anger? I'm simply describing the situation in Germany. It's the people that are angry.

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9 hours ago, Jackson said:

What are some popular BlueBrixx-exclusive sets?

They have so much stuff, it's hard to point out specific sets. The "Kingdom Come Deliverance"-licensed Medieval sets are popular, everything trains and cars they have designed themselves. Castles and other architecture, military vehicles, ships... it's just a lot of exclusive sets they sell (besides the thousands of sets from 3rd parties like COBI, Xingbao, Wange, QMan etc. they also offer).

I'd recommend taking a look at they website and see for yourself.

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2 minutes ago, Sozial said:

Then angry people are buying a lot of lego instead of bluebrixx 

https://www.amazon.de/gp/bestsellers/toys/360407031/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_toys

I wish you good luck with your company!

How could they already be buying more when most of them have only gotten to know about the alternatives in the first place? 

Your arguments are just really bad fanboy talk and I won't answer to this kind of stuff anymore. I'm not related to BlueBrixx, it's just they're the biggest alternatives store and the only one (right now) with own exclusive sets. I could name other shops like Steingemachtes, Freakware etc., too, but they are smaller and have a smaller range.

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