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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:20AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the nothing-to-see-here dept.

girlwhowaspluggedout writes:

"When Pedro Rivera, an on-call photographer for Hartford, CT's WFSB-TV, used his drone to photograph the scene of a fatal car crash, he probably did not expect to be detained by the local police and be forced to ground his drone and leave the area. What he certainly did not expect was being suspended by his employer without pay for a week after the head of the department's major crimes division contacted WFSB-TV, requesting that disciplinary action be taken against him.

Rivera has now filed a federal lawsuit against Hartford's police department for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The lawsuit seeks more than just damages it asks the court to declare that Rivera did not break any laws by operating the drone.

Shortly after the incident, Hartford police told the media that it was concerned with 'the safety of the officers and the privacy of the victim.' But, as Rivera told the Professional Society of Drone Journalists, 'If privacy is a concern ... it was not with me. It was with all the local news stations that were on the sidewalks with 'long lenses' and had shots so tight, that you could see inside the crash vehicle.' The photo he has provided and the GPS coordinates that are embedded in its EXIF data show what his drone was capable of photographing 150 feet from the accident site.

As Rivera succinctly describes it, 'What happened to me falls in the category of the war on cameras by the police. Whenever the police are videotaped, they try to detain people and confiscate the camera.' It's time to add one more marker to the War on Cameras Map'."

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  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:27AM (#3006)

    Nice and frosty...

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Non Sequor on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:29AM

    by Non Sequor (1005) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:29AM (#3009) Journal

    Professional Society of Drone Journalists
    Society Drone of Professional Journalists
    Drone Professional of Society Journalists
    Professional Journalists of Drone Society

    I want to join some of these!

    --
    Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by demonlapin on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:30AM

    by demonlapin (925) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:30AM (#3011) Journal
    If I ran that newsroom, I'd tell the police to fuck off.
    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:18AM (#3034)

      Is that the only way mommy raised you to communicate?

    • (Score: 1) by isostatic on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:11AM

      by isostatic (365) on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:11AM (#3259) Journal

      Very good. Do you run a newsroom? Have you had your journalists using drones? Do you provide them with the drones, or is this off their own back?

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:55AM

        by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:55AM (#3366)
        • Do you run a NEWSROOM?
        • Do you have your journalists USING DRONES?
        • Do you run a NEWSROOM USING DRONES?

        If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then DUNAA (DRONE USING NEWSROOM ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!

        Join DUNAA today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time DUNAA member.

        DUNAA is the fastest-growing DRONE USING NEWSROOM community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America and the World! You, too, can be a part of DUNAA if you join today!

        --
        Soylent is the best disinfectant.
        • (Score: 1) by edIII on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:03PM

          by edIII (791) on Thursday February 20 2014, @11:03PM (#3841)

          My sides hurt. Thanks.

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
      • (Score: 1) by demonlapin on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:38PM

        by demonlapin (925) on Thursday February 20 2014, @08:38PM (#3682) Journal
        No, but I've read plenty of stories where news editors did just that.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by wjwlsn on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:46AM

    by wjwlsn (171) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:46AM (#3019) Homepage Journal

    In can buy a small quadcopter with camera for about $50. It weighs just a few ounces, and would be a minimal risk even if it fell out of the sky and hit your head. If I fly it for fun, then no big deal. However, if you pay me $10 to fly over your house and get video showing the condition of your roof, the FAA could conceivably charge me with a crime. Why? Because I flew it for commercial purposes... that, apparently, is what the FAA uses to determine "legality" with respect to "drones" (not safety).

    Stupid FAA. Stupid "laws".

    --
    I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by combatserver on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:15AM

      by combatserver (38) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:15AM (#3032)

      It's not what, but who...

      "I can buy a small quadcopter with camera for about $50..."

      For that matter, how would they classify a tethered-ballon with a camera attached and reeled out from up-wind? Or a kite? What's next, COPS punching people in the face for wearing GoogleGlass?

      --
      I hope I can change this later...
      • (Score: 1) by wjwlsn on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:05AM

        by wjwlsn (171) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:05AM (#3066) Homepage Journal

        I doubt that a balloon or kite would concern them quite as much. "Drones" are a hot-button issue right now, though. People always ask me about spying when I'm flying my quad... what, like I have nothing better to do than spy on your boring-ass life?

        Also... I don't think you'll have to wait for the cops to start punching Glass wearers in the face. The general public will probably get to that way before then.

        --
        I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
        • (Score: 2) by combatserver on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:12AM

          by combatserver (38) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:12AM (#3070)

          "by wjwlsn (171)"

          Have we met before? You seem familiar--perhaps this is you?

          http://www.uoguide.com/JWilson [uoguide.com]

          (All in jest, relax.)

          --
          I hope I can change this later...
          • (Score: 1) by wjwlsn on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:24AM

            by wjwlsn (171) on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:24AM (#3077) Homepage Journal

            Ha!

            --
            I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
      • (Score: 1) by EvilJim on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:55PM

        by EvilJim (2501) on Thursday February 20 2014, @10:55PM (#3833) Journal

        they'll let the ground punch them in the face after they've removed the ability for the person to break their fall by putting their arms out. concrete is much more effective than a fist. standard procedure apparently.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by hemocyanin on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:31AM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:31AM (#3042) Journal

      Actually, that "commercial purposes" bit isn't really a law yet:

      Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney who specializes in drone laws, said there is no federal regulation concerning the operation of drones for commercial use. The FAA's prohibition of commercial drones is based on a policy statement, not an official federal regulation.

      This from the second linked article in TFS: http://articles.courant.com/2014-02-18/community/h c-hartford-drone-lawsuit-0219-20140218_1_drone-vid eo-federal-lawsuit-small-drones [courant.com]

      Secondly, from one of the articles in TFS -- Rivera was on his day off not being paid and has never been paid for movies or photos taken with his drone. It sounds pretty non-commercial.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by wjwlsn on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:38AM

        by wjwlsn (171) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:38AM (#3048) Homepage Journal

        Exactly. Not a law or regulation, but an agency policy. That hasn't stopped the FAA from charging people with crimes and fining them for large sums of money, however. http://www.personal-drones.net/2013/10/ [personal-drones.net]

        --
        I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:54AM

          by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:54AM (#3061) Journal

          That's just nuts. To be charged with a crime for doing something there is no law against .... that's scary when you really think about it.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:47AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:47AM (#3090) Journal

        When the FAA has blanket authority to regulate aircraft, it makes little difference if it was a policy or a regulation.

        They have regulations that give them the authority to impose closures air-space to any class of aircraft for any reason, at any time. Those regulations were approved by congress. So calling it a policy is making a distinction without a difference.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 5, Informative) by wjwlsn on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:22AM

          by wjwlsn (171) on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:22AM (#3200) Homepage Journal
          Actually, whether it is a policy or a regulation does make a difference.

          ... because the policy was established without undergoing the requisite administrative rule-making process, it continues to stand on uncertain legal ground. Despite this, the agency gives the impression that the policy is mandatory by sending cease-and-desist letter to aerial filmography companies. It also states on its Web site that people are not allowed to fly UAVs for commercial purposes. Nonetheless, according to the FAA, the administration "currently do[es] not have regulatory standards for commercial operations of UAS," thereby admitting they can't enforce their 2007 notice.

          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/drone-pi lot-challenges-faa-commercial-flying-ban/ [scientificamerican.com]

          --
          I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @11:16AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 13 2014, @11:16AM (#92721)

        j9W6XD atjeficsrsbd [atjeficsrsbd.com], [url=http://jcdhjgrasstp.com/]jcdhjgrasstp[/url], [link=http://kktbxvczhtgq.com/]kktbxvczhtgq[/link], http://wwsvxczrbegl.com/ [wwsvxczrbegl.com]

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by CIO on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:03AM

      by CIO (2269) on Thursday February 20 2014, @09:03AM (#3275)

      Dude, it's an accident scene. There is a very, very good chance that they will need to fly somebody out in a helicopter. Maybe not *this* accident, but it is pretty common. If a helicopter tries to land there and hits your small quadcopter, there is a very good chance that it will crash.

      I am not in favor of the lawless nature of the regulations around these little drones and agree that a proper legal framework needs to be set up to prevent arbitrary punishment. But you cannot deny that in this case the reporter took an unconscionable risk that endangered lives and his employer's reputation. If I were his editor, I sure as hell would have suspended him if the police called me and told me this.

      • (Score: 2) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:30PM

        by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Thursday February 20 2014, @12:30PM (#3381)

        What drones share in common with other modern-day ubiquitous camera systems is their effect on privacy. Drones are unique in that they are also a "physical" threat, as you point out. But in this specific case, since Rivera claims that his drone only came within 150 feet of the accident scene, it seems that caring for the public's safety wasn't really what Hartford PD had in mind when it detained him.

        What's more, Rivera flew the drone on his own personal, unpaid time.

        --
        Soylent is the best disinfectant.
      • (Score: 1) by wjwlsn on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:06PM

        by wjwlsn (171) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:06PM (#3398) Homepage Journal

        Did you look at the picture and GPS position map? He was well enough away for safety. Plus, any responsible drone operator would immediately ground the vehicle if full-size traffic was close by. Why assume that this guy wouldn't?

        --
        I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by frojack on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:10AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:10AM (#3029) Journal

    In the US at least, most newspapers won't print pictures of dead people or too much blood and gore. Even dead people have some rights.

    So if the police hadn't made an issue of it, his editor would probably not printed his shots anyway. They weren't any better than he could have gotten from the ground.

    Still, I'm not so sure the we should rush to defend the right of a journalist to fly drones just anywhere they want with no restrictions. I'm not sure we want to live in that world.

    We don't know how close he got to the scene of the accident (in spite of the sample shot he provided), but chance are he was using the drone to violate the cordon typically placed around any such site.

    The second link of the story suggests that the FAA is investigating possible Illegal use of a drone. The FAA actually said (in an updated version [foxct.com] of the second link, that an FAA spokesman said, "The FAA currently does not allow commercial operations, including videography, using an unmanned aircraft".

    So he might have been on shaky legal grounds to begin with. When you read his quotes, he is clearly a drone enthusiast and fancies himself a lawyer.

    --
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    • (Score: 1) by snick on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:40AM

      by snick (1408) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:40AM (#3051)

      Still, I'm not so sure the we should rush to defend the right of a journalist to fly drones just anywhere they want with no restrictions. I'm not sure we want to live in that world.

      I totally get that.

      But if we are given the choice between the world where Journalists fell like they can do whatever they want and the world where cops feel like they can do whatever they want ... I know which one I would choose.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:51AM

        by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:51AM (#3058)

        Fortunately, that's just a false dilemma.

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by quadrox on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:43AM

          by quadrox (315) on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:43AM (#3230)

          Unfortunately we are closer to the second scenario than the first. Police can do whatever they want, and they rarely get more than a slap on the wrist if they do something wrong. Even in court, everyone always believes the police officer, because "he has no reason to lie". Yea right.

    • (Score: 1) by mcgrew on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:06AM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:06AM (#3106) Homepage Journal

      In the US at least, most newspapers won't print pictures of dead people or too much blood and gore. Even dead people have some rights.

      It isn't for the "rights" of the dead, corpses have no rights. It's for the corpse's loved ones. Would you want to see your mother with her face ripped off?

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 1) by quadrox on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:46AM

        by quadrox (315) on Thursday February 20 2014, @06:46AM (#3232)

        I don't want to see it, but if it happened, not showing it wouldn't change it for the better in any way. I'd be far more concerned over the fact that my mom was dead than whether somebody got a picture of it.

        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @02:26AM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @02:26AM (#3998) Homepage Journal

          If nobody gets a picture you don't have to see it. Reminders of awful memories hurt.

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
          • (Score: 1) by quadrox on Friday February 21 2014, @09:44AM

            by quadrox (315) on Friday February 21 2014, @09:44AM (#4191)

            The picture will only be in the news when it's actually news. At that point in time I believe you will be grieving so much anyway that it won't really matter. But I guess this will be different for different people.

            Not that I in any way think that people are entitled to see grisly pictures in order to satisfy their curiosity, far from it. But I definitely think this should fall under free speech.

            • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @03:22PM

              by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @03:22PM (#4354) Homepage Journal

              Yes, it certainly is free speech, agreed. Not all speech is good, self-censorship isn't always a bad thing. There are some things that wile legal, even things you have a right to do, that is just wrong to do. This is one of them.

              --
              Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 1) by dingo on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:11AM

    by dingo (1579) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:11AM (#3030)

    I wonder why the privacy card is usually pulled when talking about drones, why not talk about airspace safety regulation laws?
    Privacy is important, I agree but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable letting just anyone controlling what is basically a couple of rotors spinning at pretty high rpms in suburban airspace.
    What if control is lost and the drone injures a person? Can anyone launch a drone legally provided it doesn't sport some sort of recording device?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by wjwlsn on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:29AM

      by wjwlsn (171) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:29AM (#3041) Homepage Journal
      The only guidance that the FAA has regarding model aircraft is Advisory Circular 91-57 (http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/advisory_ circulars/index.cfm/go/document.information/docume ntID/22425 [faa.gov]). Many hobbyists can (and do) mount HD cameras to their model aircraft and fly around in perfect compliance with AC 91-57. However, the FAA has started calling model aircraft "unmanned aerial systems" if they are flown for commercial purposes. Rightly or wrongly, that invokes a whole different level of regulatory/legal burden.
      --
      I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:48AM

      by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:48AM (#3055)

      Because we shouldn't be terrified of everything that has the potential to injure someone or damage something, and we definitely shouldn't regulate things in this way if it's unlikely to cause damage and the behavior itself is not harmful.

      In the end, privacy should remain the primary concern. That's much more important than safety.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by tibman on Friday February 21 2014, @02:00AM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 21 2014, @02:00AM (#3974)

      Probably far less dangerous than parking your car near a golf course or baseball field.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:12AM

    by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:12AM (#3031) Journal

    I wonder what would happen to a civilian who interfered with the operations of a police drone.

    No, wait, actually I don't wonder at all.

    --
    Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by GungnirSniper on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:39AM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:39AM (#3050) Journal

      Similar to what happens if a civilian kills a police dog, vs. what happens if a policeman kills a civilian dog. One is Assault on an Officer, the other is an 'oopsie'.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:40AM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:40AM (#3052) Journal

      This is a really difficult topic.

      1) I do not want to see government drones filling the sky surveilling everything.
      2) I do not want to see business drones filling the sky surveilling everything.

      On the other hand:

      1) Protestors could make good use of these to document police abuse etc.
      2) Political activists might be able to catch a few politicians in the act of being themselves, i.e., corrupt, or find companies breaking laws
      3) Cool pictures and movies.

      I guess I would be OK if drones were kept out of the hands of government/business hands, but allowed for political protest/activism/cool youtube videos -- probably takes a Constitutional amendment. What is much more likely, is that we will be surveilled relentlessly and prohibited from flying anything at all, except for rubber band powered balsa planes inside a gym under direct supervision.

      • (Score: 1) by Daniel Dvorkin on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:36PM

        by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:36PM (#3510) Journal

        I think the best we can hope for is simply that everyone hase them. No government on the planet is going to deny itself the use of the things; in (relatively) free societies we may still be able to insist that the citizenry gets to use them too.

        --
        Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:01PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20 2014, @05:01PM (#3567)
        In other news, swords cut both ways. Anything resembling a cutting tool will be placed under government control. You will be stripped of the right to keep and bear cutting tools, in order to maintain the status quo.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Silentknyght on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:34AM

    by Silentknyght (1905) on Thursday February 20 2014, @01:34AM (#3044)

    This isn't a "war on cameras", or on journalists, or really on anything else. This is---and all other similar "illegal use of drones" stories are---simply the government reacting (too) slowly, as usual, to the fast-pace of changing technology.

    Drone use probably does need some regulation. They'll need to address state-use (e.g., police, fire, regulatory agencies), media use, other commercial use, and private/hobby use; they may need to address liability, and how to identify liability (e.g., a drone crashes into you/your property and causes you/it damage. How do you identify whose drone it is?); they may need to address airspace right-of-way issues; and they'll likely need to address a whole host of other things I can imagine.

    It's okay that the laws governing drone use are NOT written and enacted virtually overnight. Until then, though---popular opinion or not---it's probably better safe (use being mostly illegal) than sorry.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ancientt on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:07AM

      by ancientt (40) <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 20 2014, @02:07AM (#3068) Homepage Journal

      Well said. I agree with pretty much everything you said. I wish I'd said exactly that first.

      I am going to take the opposite side of the argument, just for the exercise in analytical thinking. (I often do this because of what I read [rightattitudes.com] about the Wright brothers.)

      This is a war on cameras because the technology of using something airborne to take pictures is not new at all. Planes and balloons have been used for many years without police feeling they needed to be involved. If a balloon had been floating overhead and taking pictures as it went by or if a plane had been flying over with high powered cameras, nothing would have happened. This is about cops who see an opportunity to impose their preference regardless of the law simply because the person they are interested in is easily available and readily intimidated.

      The right of people to take pictures, particularly the right of the free press to take pictures when it doesn't break the law has been thoroughly debated and there are more than enough laws to handle the situations that are arising as "drone" use. The fact that it is now easier and less expensive to engage in journalism doesn't change the nature of the actions, nor does it cause a need for new legislation. If you send up a weather balloon or fly a hot air balloon, there are more than enough laws to determine who is at fault in the case of an accident. This is not fundamentally different.

      Judges can and should look to existing law to handle cases like this. The sooner the judicial branches of government realize this is not a fundamental change and put precedents in place to make it clear, the better. It cannot happen soon enough, in many ways it is already too late if people are content to accept a cop intimidating a journalist doing what he has every legal right right to do.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by German Sausage on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:04AM

    by German Sausage (1750) on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:04AM (#3149)

    Cops were used to doing whatever they liked with no repercussions. If there were witnesses to their misdeeds, it was always the cops word against a citizen. Now that every smartphone has a video camera and every citizen is a photographer, it is much harder for them to get away with their lies. Understandably they don't like it and are pushing back.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by unitron on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:24AM

    by unitron (70) on Thursday February 20 2014, @04:24AM (#3159) Journal

    ...about news and traffic choppers.

    " WFSB-TV in Hartford, Conn., would only give up its helicopter ''reluctantly -- if the recession deepened and I had to cut somewhere,'' says news director Dick Ahles."

    http://www.csmonitor.com/1982/0128/012804.html/(pa ge)/2 [csmonitor.com]

    And the police are less likely to push you around if you can afford an actual helicopter instead of something with a Cox Glo-Plug engine.

    --
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    • (Score: 1) by JeanCroix on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:57PM

      by JeanCroix (573) on Thursday February 20 2014, @03:57PM (#3527)
      OT, but thanks for the informative .sig. Although honestly, I've been enjoying Soylent so much that I've barely peeked back in there since the supposed end of the first slashcott anyway.