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Author Topic: Erosion of photographic freedom in London  (Read 4843 times)
Gerry Walden
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« on: January 30, 2012, 05:29:39 PM »
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I don't often write about political matters, in fact I don't think I have ever done so before but I think this is important. There is a proposed bylaw to make the taking of any photograph for any business purpose in Parliament Square or Trafalgar Square in London illegal unless you have written permission of the Mayor. This will not only seriously curtail the freedom of the press to make images of anything that happens in these two areas, be it riots or acts of kindness, but it will also stop stock photographers making legitimate images of iconic London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, the National gallery etc.

It is a long held freedom in this country, and most other 'democratic' countries to make images whilst on public land, and this is a serious infringement of that right. It will aslo stop the legitimate freedom of the press to report incidents such as any protest camp, political rally etc. etc.

I have held the belief for the whole of my life that I live in a free country - obviously I have been wrong!

You can read a pdf of the proposed bylaw for Trafalgar Square at here and I would draw your attention to Byelaw 5(1)(p).
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Gerry Walden
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2012, 08:17:54 PM »
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I honestly feel for you brits, your politicians seems to be hell-bent on following the americans in slowly but surely dismantling your civil liberties.
I truly hope you can turn this around because right now things are heading in a very worrying direction.


Same goes for the US, I mean WTF?

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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 09:06:52 AM »
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Nice to see you again, Gerry, welcome aboard.

"I have held the belief for the whole of my life that I live in a free country - obviously I have been wrong!"

That's the kleptomaniac's defence; you'll have to think of something better.

.....................................................................

I'm not a press shooter, as is well know, and neither do I have much sympathy for crowds and demonstrations of any ilk, and I do see how the powers-that-be can feel obliged to do something to try and ensure a return to some sort of state of calmness in the land at large. If blame has to be apportioned, then I think one could start by looking into the recent pan-UK riots that started (they say) as demos against the shooting of a guy who had a gun (which was totally illegal, of course), and that was a godsend for those indulging in the looting and destruction of property, both public as well as private, that took off as a consequence. I have always struggled with the connection between looting and political demonstration; apparently, the majority of the world sees the two as natural twins, the one absolving the other, as it were.

Regarding the actual work being done by press photographers. As far as I can see, the huge mass of those people seem to shoot zillions of images, of which nothing seems to appear anywhere, the real objective apparently being for the snappers to be seen on tv, the medium being the message once again, which really takes me back in the decades! TV crews are by definition something else than scruffy young bums trying to make a buck; the older press hounds have long gone, as even casual watching of news broadcasts reveals. The fact of the matter is, hordes of 'press' photographers do not a lot more than make up the numbers and cause the place to look terribly untidy, and where there is trouble incite, by their presence, those with the will to even greater acts of vandalism. I'd ban the lot of them from public areas. Why don't they take up PR photography instead?

This will, of course, be taken as implying some sort of blanket support for governmental despotism, but I think we are in a country other than that; it ain't gonna happen becuse the average Joe is usually a little more sensible than to follow any party quite as blindly as he used to do in, say, the 40s or 50s. Were this not so, the unions would have grown, not shrunk, and Labour would always have remained in power. The dangers of union power have been shown to everyone and his wife, and now the idea is to bribe the train guys from going on strike during the Olympics... boy, oh boy, some of us Brits could give the Mafia lessons in extortion.

As for legitimate professional photographers wanting to make images of/in places of note, there is nothing stopping them from applying for permission to so do, and that can even lead to access to advantage points, as I know from my own experiences in advertising; ask, and people often bend backwards to help you out. Courtesy doesn't cost anyone anything and is one of the best investments in his own public relations that a photographer can make.

I love photoraphy, don't you?

;-)

Rob C

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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 09:10:40 AM »
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I honestly feel for you brits, your politicians seems to be hell-bent on following the americans in slowly but surely dismantling your civil liberties.
I truly hope you can turn this around because right now things are heading in a very worrying direction.

Same goes for the US, I mean WTF?



That's a good example of colour photography being prettier, in the right instance, than black/white.

Rob C
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gubaguba
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2012, 11:25:17 AM »
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I remember being surrounded by police officers for taking pictures at a train station shortly after 911.  They mistakenly believed they had rights to do so.  Latter it was proven to me and them that they did not.  At the moment it happened I can tell it was scary they were hell bent on stopping me and I do not doubt they would have done so with any means available.

Usually such behavior is driven by fear.  In my case it was fear of terrorist and since we don't know who they may be we are all suspects.  So my question is what is the fear that is driving this?

Making a by-law, doesn't necessarily make it legal at least here in the States.  Plenty of passed laws are latter stuck down when challenged.  So my next question is what group is available to challenge this in court.

I will end with that I still carry a document in my camera case which explains why any police officer cannot prevent me from photographing any public viewable area.  I have had time where I presented it to law officers to make them aware of the law.  I then informed them they were free to arrest me if they felt otherwise but in doing so they would be faced with the consequences of unlawful arrest and associated media scrutiny.  So what are you willing to do?
« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 11:28:13 AM by gubaguba » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2012, 04:24:28 AM »
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Usually such behavior is driven by fear.  In my case it was fear of terrorist and since we don't know who they may be we are all suspects.  So my question is what is the fear that is driving this?




You're absolutelly right. Fear lies at the bottom of all of it: fear of not taking action and later being held accountable for such inaction; fear of getting blown to bits if taking action; fear of getting sued by a political activist going out of his way to create an 'incident' where he can demonstrate how brave/smart/freedom-loving/idiotic he is in setting up said incident complete with sound. Even better: there's always the chance of his getting the human rights lawyers on his case! An old boy in a bar this week was on the topic: he declared that today everybody has rights and nobody has responsibilties. I was so moved I almost bought him another brandy.

Frankly, that anyone still does the job of a policeman/guard of any sort astounds me; how much easier simply to become another of the permanently unemployed and live off the friggin' state.

I heard today that there are objections to 'benefit' in the UK being brough down to around 23,000 or so pounds per annum; hell's bloody teeth, but that my state pension - to which I contributed every year even after I left Britain to live abroad  - was even remotely in that league! So comforting to discover that after being a taxpayer all my life I am now worth less than a layabout with an expert eye on working the system! Yes, there certainly are those with disabilities that render them incapable of work; to them I would offer what they need. But to the rest (and I had personal knowledge of one who was able to come and go from the UK to Mallorca, own and sail his own boat, yet required a neck-brace and a stick when returning to the UK), why are you worth more than a pensioner?

Another strange fact: if you leave the UK to live abroad, and whilst living in the UK are entitled to a heating allowance, you continue to have that added benefit when you live in the new country. BUT, should you not have been getting that allowance before you left, you are not eligible for it in the same new country. So, here in Spain, where if you can afford it, you easily burn three tons of firewood per annum to survive the cold, dampness and poor building construction, thereís the curious spectacle of some UK pensioners being legally more equal than others! And note: this isnít about physical disability, itís about keeping warm enough to survive.


And one should care about goddam  photographers wanting access anywhere they please?

Rob C

Edit: watching Paliament on the magic box after lunch, I see I was mistaken; it's not 23 but 26 grand they want to reduce the  benefits to... makes the pension seem even more of a cynical joke.


 
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 07:06:55 AM by Rob C » Logged

jeremypayne
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2012, 05:58:23 AM »
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You can read a pdf of the proposed bylaw for Trafalgar Square at here and I would draw your attention to Byelaw 5(1)(p).

I don't think it is at all unreasonable to require permits for commercial shoots in crowded, public spaces.

I don't see this as having anything to with anything other than a desire to manage traffic and commerce.

The law in NYC is that you need a permit and insurance for a commercial shoot if you use any equipment beyond a handheld camera, eg tripod, or need to make "exclusive" use of the property in question.  Doesn't seem all that different.
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Eric Kellerman
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2012, 06:56:49 AM »
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Rob C

As a long-term expatriate Brit myself, I think a more serious issue is continuing disenfranchisement. I have been prevented from voting in UK elections since 1974, despite retaining British citizenship, simply because I am domiciled abroad.

Eric
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2012, 07:39:18 AM »
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Rob C

As a long-term expatriate Brit myself, I think a more serious issue is continuing disenfranchisement. I have been prevented from voting in UK elections since 1974, despite retaining British citizenship, simply because I am domiciled abroad.

Eric


But that's possibly wrong: you can go to a British Consulate and they supply you with documentation that allows you to vote in your last UK area; however, I do believe there is a time limit, a window during which you have to apply for this. In fact, several politicians have taken the trouble to come over to Mallorca to engage with expats and attempt to get their votes.

Worth trying, if you still want to be politically active...

However, there may be strings here: domicile and residency are different animals with dfferent status. It's usually very difficult to lose UK domicile, though. I believe it's even more difficult for US citizens to escape the governmental grip on the wallet!

Good luck -

Rob C
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Eric Kellerman
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2012, 08:41:13 AM »
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Hello Rob

There is a limit, but it has long since passed in my case.

"Every British citizen who has been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years is eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary (general) elections, European Parliamentary elections and referendums in the UK."

http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/register_to_vote/british_citizens_living_abroad.aspx

Needless to say, I can't vote in Dutch general elections either, though I can vote both in European and local ones.

Cheers, Eric

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Matt Quinn
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2012, 12:58:18 PM »
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Sadly London, to many of us, is a lost cause...

From http://tfgtv.matt-quinn.com/rates.html



"London Surcharge

We regret that Company policy now is that we feel forced to actively discourage work that takes us into London; this was a particularly difficult decision for us, but working in London is no longer a viable option in our opinion.

London has, thanks to its combination of transport policies (congestion and parking charges etc.) and red tape surrounding the simplest of film or video shoots on its streets, become one of the least practical and most stressful places to film in the UK. It's not that we don't like London or Londoners, however...

The London authorities have turned the place into what one of our team called 'a 'whole world of pain'! And we've got to the stage where we're so frustrated with their attitude we just don't want to go there!

There is therefore a £700 per day surcharge for each crew of up to two people engaged on a shoot that takes us into the London congestion charge area and an additional charge of £200 per day for each extra crew member.

That's IN ADDITION to the congestion charge itself and also in addition to any parking charges or fines, charges the local authorities might make in respect of permissions or admin plus our administration fees.

That surcharge also applies to pre-production activities. Please note that we will simply not operate without all appropriate permissions, permits in place well in advance nor will be operate outside any legislative requirements.

Crews are instructed to comply fully with the requirements of police and other officials and if a crew is moved on their time remains FULLY chargeable.

If this policy seems harsh then we apologise....

We apologise to the owners of cafes we won't be eating in, shops we won't be shopping in, taxi drivers who's cabs we won't be hiring, and hotels we won't be sleeping in.

We'd also like to express our sincere regrets to the London based runners and production assistants we won't be hiring as a result of this policy. But we're absolutely sick and tired of our crews being abused by the London authorities and the petty officials on the streets who have made working in London an utterly soul-destroying experience.

When London re-thinks its attitudes to business in the city we'll happily re-think ours!
"

We adopted this policy some years ago after a couple of nightmare shoots in London.  - A bullying ill-educated Police force, congestion charges, red tape... It just wasn't worth the hassle.  All the more disturbing as I did my training in London back inthe 80's with Thames TV.

As a family we no longer visit London for holidays either - no weekend breaks or West End Shows. No Christmas shopping. It's easier and cheaper to get on a plane and fly to Paris or Rome. The place is simply a nightmare to work in or visit.

And I can't remember which particular landmark areas they applied to off the top of my head. But restrictions in certain areas are nothing new; in fact I'm not even sure this one is!

Matt Quinn.






 







« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 01:57:06 PM by Matt Quinn » Logged
kikashi
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2012, 05:05:52 AM »
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As a long-term expatriate Brit myself, I think a more serious issue is continuing disenfranchisement. I have been prevented from voting in UK elections since 1974, despite retaining British citizenship, simply because I am domiciled abroad.
Don't construe this as an attack on you, Eric, but why do you consider you should have an entitlement to influence the government of a country in which you don't now live and in which you haven't lived for more than 15 years?

I don't think it is at all unreasonable to require permits for commercial shoots in crowded, public spaces.

I don't see this as having anything to with anything other than a desire to manage traffic and commerce.
That's staggeringly naive, Jeremy. Read the byelaw: it says nothing about "commercial shoots" and would, as drafted, cover press photography.

While I have no sympathy with "peace camps" and the like, which have cluttered and defiled too many of our public spaces; and while I understand that the people who indulge in such foolish posturing do so in part because they will attract coverage in newspapers, I am concerned by the implicit censorship.

Jeremy
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 10:37:46 AM by kikashi » Logged
kikashi
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2012, 05:08:13 AM »
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Sadly London, to many of us, is a lost cause...
For a combination of pomposity and dubious literacy, that attempt to justify rank profiteering would be tricky to beat. Happily, I suspect that London will somehow manage to struggle on without you.

Jeremy
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Matt Quinn
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2012, 01:30:46 PM »
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For a combination of pomposity and dubious literacy, that attempt to justify rank profiteering would be tricky to beat. Happily, I suspect that London will somehow manage to struggle on without you.

Jeremy

OOOhhh They don't Like it up 'em...   Cheesy

Profiteering?  Hardly, as we quite clearly state the policy is there to DISCOURAGE people from asking us to go down there...  We don't want to make extra profits - we just don't want to go there! 

Besides, even WITH the surchages we're still getting enquiries simply because our base charges are FAR lower than many London based competitors! - Typically one of our finished programmes comes in at about 75% of the comparable London based competition...

And we are FAR from the only Company with a similar policy. -We are simply 'up front' about it. Some outfits will just double or treble their ratecard...  Heck; even the BBC are about to flog TVC for flats or something and bail out of the place!!!

As for pomposity - " dubious literacy" - Oh dear oh dear... I'm afraid that really rather reflects part of the problem...

As I say - London - you can keep it...  It priced itself out the market years ago, both economically and in terms of 'civic attitude'.  It wouldn't surprise me if they started putting turnstiles on the pedestrian crossings; anything to raise revenue!

« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 02:00:48 PM by Matt Quinn » Logged
jeremypayne
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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2012, 09:25:55 PM »
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That's staggeringly naive, Jeremy. Read the byelaw: it says nothing about "commercial shoots" and would, as drafted, cover press photography.

Read (5)(1)(p) again.  "Unless acting in accordance with permission given by the mayor ... no person shall ... take photographs ... in connection with a business, trade, profession ..." 

I was pointed to this section by the OP and read it ... my take was that it wasn't so different than NYC.  I used to work on and produce commercial work in NYC for both stills and motion stuff.  I don't think I'm particularly naive on the subject having lived in both cities and worked in this industry as a young man.  Maybe I missed some legalese as IANAL ...

Perhaps under English constitutional law this would also extend to the press - I hadn't thought of that ... in the US such a statute would most definitely NOT apply to the press.
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jjj
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2012, 10:02:36 PM »
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Edit: watching Paliament on the magic box after lunch, I see I was mistaken; it's not 23 but 26 grand they want to reduce the  benefits to... makes the pension seem even more of a cynical joke.
I believe that's not per person but per family and it also includes child and housing benefits to pay for rent. Which if you live say in London is not a huge amount for a family of 4. It has been prompted by abuse of benefits system by a small percentage of people, who carry on living in expensive accommodation after falling on hard times or by families with many dependents who would be financially worse off if they worked.
I recall reading a few years back that benefit fraud cost the country £50 million which seems like a lot, but compared to the amount of money lost through tax evasion and dubious but vaguely legal tax avoidance it is barely anything to speak of. A single big company could easily avoid avoid £50million pound of tax through off shore dealings. It's amazing how little tax incredibly profitable companies pay. Much like the very, very, very, rich Romney only paid 15% tax last year. And he still hasn't declared prior years yet as far as I know.
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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2012, 10:14:48 PM »
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I'm not a press shooter, as is well know, and neither do I have much sympathy for crowds and demonstrations of any ilk, and I do see how the powers-that-be can feel obliged to do something to try and ensure a return to some sort of state of calmness in the land at large.

Regarding the actual work being done by press photographers. As far as I can see, the huge mass of those people seem to shoot zillions of images, of which nothing seems to appear anywhere, the real objective apparently being for the snappers to be seen on tv, the medium being the message once again, which really takes me back in the decades! TV crews are by definition something else than scruffy young bums trying to make a buck; the older press hounds have long gone, as even casual watching of news broadcasts reveals. The fact of the matter is, hordes of 'press' photographers do not a lot more than make up the numbers and cause the place to look terribly untidy, and where there is trouble incite, by their presence, those with the will to even greater acts of vandalism. I'd ban the lot of them from public areas. Why don't they take up PR photography instead?
What utter, utter nonsense. Just because press photos don't appear on your TV in a different country does not mean they do not appear in the press or in online media.
It should also be pointed out that the Mets controversial handling of protests has lead to serious trouble and conflict. And the press have caught them at it. The police even killed Ian Tomlinson, an innocent man on his way home at a G20 summit and were only taken to task because of the presence of people able to film and photograph the incident.
Not to mention that many a peaceful protest will get hijacked by neer do wells who like to take advantage of crowds to cause mayhem.
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kikashi
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« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2012, 02:36:35 AM »
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Read (5)(1)(p) again.  "Unless acting in accordance with permission given by the mayor ... no person shall ... take photographs ... in connection with a business, trade, profession ..." 

I was pointed to this section by the OP and read it ... my take was that it wasn't so different than NYC.  I used to work on and produce commercial work in NYC for both stills and motion stuff.  I don't think I'm particularly naive on the subject having lived in both cities and worked in this industry as a young man.  Maybe I missed some legalese as IANAL ...

Perhaps under English constitutional law this would also extend to the press - I hadn't thought of that ... in the US such a statute would most definitely NOT apply to the press.
Forget "constitutional law". If you are a press photographer and you take photographs, in the course of your work, for publication, then you are taking them "in connection with a business, trade, profession...". How can those words possibly be interpreted in any other way?

Jeremy
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kikashi
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« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2012, 02:40:06 AM »
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OOOhhh They don't Like it up 'em...   Cheesy
I'm a Mancunian, old chap. You can insult London to your heart's content without affecting me.

As for pomposity - " dubious literacy" - Oh dear oh dear... I'm afraid that really rather reflects part of the problem...
If you can't recognise the grammatical errors in your text, you have my sympathy.

Jeremy
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2012, 07:48:32 AM »
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Forget "constitutional law". If you are a press photographer and you take photographs, in the course of your work, for publication, then you are taking them "in connection with a business, trade, profession...". How can those words possibly be interpreted in any other way?

Jeremy

As I said, in the US such a statute wouldn't ever apply to the press.  I guess I just take that for granted.

I had thought the UK had similar protections, but if a simple London city ordinance can take precedence, that is surprising ... to me.

Have you now actually read the passage in question? ... your initial response gave hints that you may not have actually read it ...
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