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posted by requerdanos on Sunday August 13 2023, @02:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the low-ink dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

HP all-in-one printer owners, upset that their devices wouldn't scan or fax when low on ink, were handed a partial win in a northern California court this week after a judge denied HP's motion to dismiss their suit.

The plaintiffs argued in their amended class action complaint [PDF] that HP withheld vital information by including software in its all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machines that disabled non-printing functions when out of ink and not telling buyers that was the case.

"It is well-documented that ink is not required in order to scan or to fax a document, and it is certainly possible to manufacture an All-in-One printer that scans or faxes when the device is out of ink," the plaintiffs argued in their complaint. The amended complaint was filed in February this year after US federal Judge Beth Labson Freeman dismissed the suit on the grounds that it hadn't properly stated a claim.

Armed with their amended complaint, lawyers for San Francsican Gary Freund and Minneapolis resident Wayne McMath have succeeded at not only making relevant claims, but also surviving an attempt by HP to have the entire case dismissed for a second time. 

In the amended complaint, Freund and McMath's lawyers argue that HP's move to disable devices that were low on ink was intentional, citing HP's own comments from a support forum post in which an HP support agent told a user complaining of similar issues that their "HP printer is designed in such a way that with the empty cartridge or without the cartridge [the] printer will not function." 

[...] This isn't the first time HP has been taken to court over claims it improperly locked printers down. In 2022 the IT giant settled a European lawsuit for $1.35 million alleging it used security chips and DRM-like software to prevent any third-party cartridges from functioning in HP printers. The US corporation has dealt with similar cases in Australia and America, which were settled. 

HP hasn't responded to our questions about the latest lawsuit.


Original Submission

Related Stories

HP Wants You to Pay Up to $36/Month to Rent a Printer That It Monitors 56 comments

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2024/02/hp-wants-you-to-pay-up-to-36-month-to-rent-a-printer-that-it-monitors/

HP launched a subscription service today that rents people a printer, allots them a specific amount of printed pages, and sends them ink for a monthly fee. HP is framing its service as a way to simplify printing for families and small businesses, but the deal also comes with monitoring and a years-long commitment.

Prices range from $6.99 per month for a plan that includes an HP Envy printer (the current model is the 6020e) and 20 printed pages. The priciest plan includes an HP OfficeJet Pro rental and 700 printed pages for $35.99 per month.
[...]
HP calls this an All-In-Plan; if you subscribe, the tech company will be all in on your printing activities.

One of the most perturbing aspects of the subscription plan is that it requires subscribers to keep their printers connected to the Internet. In general, some users avoid connecting their printer to the Internet because it's the type of device that functions fine without web access.

A web connection can also concern users about security or HP-issued firmware updates that make printers stop functioning with non-HP ink.

But HP enforces an Internet connection by having its TOS also state that HP may disrupt the service—and continue to charge you for it—if your printer's not online.
[...]
The All-In-Plan privacy policy also says that HP may "transfer information about you to advertising partners" so that they can "recognize your devices," perform targeted advertising, and, potentially, "combine information about you with information from other companies in data sharing cooperatives" that HP participates in. The policy says that users can opt out of sharing personal data.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13 2023, @02:28PM (17 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13 2023, @02:28PM (#1320162)

    I had one of those Canon all-in-ones that stopped scanning and faxing when the magenta ran out. We've never considered Canon for any product since.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:19PM (13 children)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:19PM (#1320173)

      So you chose another brand. Clever you.

      Tell me: what will happen when this becomes the norm and you don't have any sans remaining printer manufacturer to choose from?

      This is the danger: one manufacturer pulls outragous shenanigans. Some customers choose another brand, but most go with the flow and don't say anything. The other brands take notice and start doing the same thing. Then it's something else, then something else... And pretty soon all the manufacturers abuse their customers and you can't escape the abuse.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by RS3 on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:59PM (9 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:59PM (#1320180)

        Economic theory wants us to believe that a Canon or an HP will sell almost no printers. Unfortunately advertising and marketing are much more complicated, and people make very irrational decisions when buying something NEW!.

        1) I keep using my good old very very inexpensive laser printer. Many color things come out fine in grayscale.
        2) My Brother AIO printer/scanner keeps working despite being low or out of ink. I have a couple of other standalone scanners too if needed.
        3) If I'm really hurting for color prints, I shop for the cheapest color inkjet printer, knowing the included ink cartridges are usually 1/2 full, if that. Or maybe invest in one that lets you refill the ink, but I'm not sure who is doing that. My Brother uses ink-only cartridges. The downside is that if there's a clog or other printhead problem, it's not an easy swap like ones that are printhead and ink all in one cartridge.
        4) "Borrow" someone else's if it's only a page or two. There may be brick-and-mortar printshops around if it's that important. I think my local library lets you print things for a small fee.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by anubi on Sunday August 13 2023, @10:15PM (5 children)

          by anubi (2828) on Sunday August 13 2023, @10:15PM (#1320198) Journal

          Everytime I read these woes, I remind myself that this kind of tyranny is fomented by copyright and patent law.

          In review of this kind of abuse, I would strongly support a re-evaluation of copyright and patent law, setting the provider's restrictions to what the purchaser can do with the product , post-sale , to be the same as restrictions on how the funds paid by the purchaser may be used by the manufacturer, post-sale.

          Of course, by designing the product to violate the intent and purpose of the law, the purchaser may elect to involve legal services to recover the cost of the print service, collection costs to be borne by the manufacturer. A very similar construct of widely accepted legal boilerplate that businesses require customers to sign. Accepting payment for the product constitutes seller's acceptance of these terms and conditions.

          The time is here we must all adopt MBA (Marketing Bullshit and Assholery) techniques in order to do business.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Monday August 14 2023, @02:40AM (4 children)

            by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday August 14 2023, @02:40AM (#1320214) Journal

            In my case, I am forced to resort to printouts thanks to organizational dynamics in which minions demand overly strict conformance to the law because they know their bosses might ream them if they don't. Their desire for job security may also be a motivation. I can digitally rubber stamp a signature on a PDF (an electronic signature, as it's known), but if I do that, the minions will cry that the "digital" signature isn't valid (true-- I placed an electronic signature, not a digital signature), and reject the paperwork. They don't have a clue what a digital signature is, all they see is the PDF reader throwing up a notification that the signature isn't valid. I have tried removing the digital signature fields, but that gets even hairier when they go nuts that *gasp* a hacker _tampered_ with the document, OMG, OMG! I could use a font that looks like handwriting, and they will reject that too. (Strangely, when I made a major purchase, I was asked to sign in that fashion-- choose whichever font looks most like my handwriting and "sign" by typing my name into their app.)

            I could turn the electronically signed PDF into images, as if it had been printed and scanned, but that weirded the boss out. I could print out just the pages that need to be signed, take those to the boss for signing, scan them, and swap out the unsigned pages for the scans of the signed ones so that at least some of the contract will still be text, but no. That too the boss rejected for fear of those bureaucratic minions rejecting the contract. Nope, the boss wants the whole damned contract printed out, taken to him for signing, scanned back into a PDF, and emailed.

            Actually trying to make a valid digital signature is another possibility, but only a few contracts use them, and I have yet to see one that used them correctly.

            Should I take consolation in the small victory that at least they aren't insisting the contracts be sent via the post office, or more like FedEx overnight because, you know, they're always in a tremendous hurry? Anyway, all this bull around the signing of contracts forces the use of printers. I so want to go completely paperless, never have to touch another printer ever again, and tell HP and all the rest of them where to stick it.

            • (Score: 1) by anubi on Monday August 14 2023, @04:17AM (3 children)

              by anubi (2828) on Monday August 14 2023, @04:17AM (#1320219) Journal

              Oh yes!

              "Just visit us on the Web!"

              Starts off like a warm invitation, huh?

              Ok, their page finally loads. They don't like your ad blocker! Why do I have an ad blocker anyway? People just like them. They are Business Web Masters looking for Stoopid ignorant people who haven't wised up to modern internet marketing techniques yet.

              OK, I am dumb enough to use the stock browser that comes preloaded on my throwaway phone less than one year old. So its new enough that the new website authoring software used by the newly minted IT professional hired to Master the Corporate Web Presence won't brush me off as old deprecated browser. Now the page loads, but jumps all over the place as various JavaScripts and pixel trackers load. I can't navigate worth a damn. Every time I "click here" the page has jumped somewhere else, and my click is registered to somewhere I don't wanna go, and the back button doesn't work.

              Out of frustration, I query DDG, and get linked to several offerings, very rarely linking to where I thought what I am looking for is.

              Just as many of us have learned to not visit corporate websites directly in order to avoid marketing confusion, opting for a robot (DDG) to deal with the shenanigans imposed by the Corporate Web Master IT Marketing Professional, corporate executives will eventually wise up and direct their Corporate Web Master not to code up such tangling webs of misdirection as they try to frustrate every last click they can from a dwindling supply of those who don't use timewaster-avoidance techniques against JavaScript-happy corporate WebMasters.

              Most corporate websites are a waste of time.I always hit eBay and Amazon first.

              And always use DDG to run block for you when trying to communicate with Corporate. Most people (including me) are no match for a highly trained corporate webmaster determined to frustrate the hell out of me

              --
              "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
              • (Score: 2, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Monday August 14 2023, @04:24PM (2 children)

                by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday August 14 2023, @04:24PM (#1320269) Journal

                Automobile manufacturer websites are among the worst. Make you dig for what little they give out in the way of specs, and try to distract you with marketing pablum. What color paint would you like on your new car that is sooo FUN to drive? Uh, I didn't come here for a new car. Did we mention what a pleasure it is to drive our highly regarded, prize winning, head turning cars? We have INTENSE ROYAL SUMMER SEAS blue, ANTIQUE WINTER SUN BLEACHED white, GLITTERY-- SHUT UP, SHUT UP, THE PAINT ISN'T WHAT MAKES THE CAR GO! Compared to that, technology company websites are founts of good and pertinent info.

                • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Monday August 14 2023, @08:47PM (1 child)

                  by anubi (2828) on Monday August 14 2023, @08:47PM (#1320295) Journal

                  Tell me...

                  I looked all over the place for wiring diagrams for my van.

                  The manufacturer website is no help at all.

                  Why do I need service manuals?

                  So I won't be forced to deal with them!

                  --
                  "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
                  • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Tuesday August 15 2023, @02:49PM

                    by ElizabethGreene (6748) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 15 2023, @02:49PM (#1320390) Journal

                    Wait until you get a service manual where the wiring diagram is split across several dozen pages and after printing and taping them together and decoding the hieroglyphics you discover your submodel doesn't match *this* iteration of the diagram. :\

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by atwork on Monday August 14 2023, @02:57AM (2 children)

          by atwork (34426) on Monday August 14 2023, @02:57AM (#1320217)

          I have a Brother MFP as well, and it's a right pain to work through the "Low ink level" warnings to get it to scan - it's not obvious how, but you can do it.

          Even the better manufacturers are pushing what I will put up with.

          • (Score: 5, Informative) by jasassin on Monday August 14 2023, @01:24PM

            by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Monday August 14 2023, @01:24PM (#1320253) Homepage Journal

            I have a Brother MFP as well, and it's a right pain to work through the "Low ink level" warnings to get it to scan - it's not obvious how, but you can do it.

            I have an Brother inkjet All-In-One, and can confirm the following works (YouTube "brother inkjet tape trick, it seems you can also use a black Sharpie pen).

            Cut a piece of piece of black electrical tape fit to cover and wrap around the plastic window on the ink cartridges, totally covering the transparent plastic "window". Then tell the printer "yes" I changed that cartridge when you re-insert. The printer will think the cartridge is full. This will allow you to print every last drop of ink from your "supposedly empty" cartridges.

            My printers color crapped out (even with new third party cartridges), but the black still works ok with third party cartridges. That's fine for me since I don't print images; Inkjet color prints are really bad compared to laser anyway. Plus I can get 3 of the high capacity black cartridges off Ebay for $8. That is a reasonable price for ink cartridges. They want $25 for one (1) black high-capacity genuine Brother cartridge on the Brother Amazon store. Fuck that.

            --
            jasassin@gmail.com GPG Key ID: 0xE6462C68A9A3DB5A
          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Monday August 14 2023, @11:21PM

            by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 14 2023, @11:21PM (#1320320)

            My Brother doesn't complain when scanning, even with ink cartridges removed. But, I am not using their software, so maybe that's the problem?

      • (Score: 2) by epitaxial on Monday August 14 2023, @03:40AM (2 children)

        by epitaxial (3165) on Monday August 14 2023, @03:40AM (#1320218)

        At that point I'll buy an aging Laserjet.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by anubi on Monday August 14 2023, @04:57AM (1 child)

          by anubi (2828) on Monday August 14 2023, @04:57AM (#1320221) Journal

          Stay away from LaserJet III and earlier.

          They had problems with the fuser overheating with subsequent disintegration. I haven't found repair parts at anywhere near reasonable price.

          I have an old HP3005 printer that was apparently a corporate machine. The church I used to attend tossed it. The secretary's daughter poured a cup of coffee in it I retrieved it, cleaned the coffee out of it, and have bee using it for about 20 years now. No problems at all. Haven't even bought new toner. I print a few pages several times a year. I guess I've ran maybe two teams of paper through it in that time, mostly tax forms, parts spec sheets, and Eagle schematic and PCB proofs. It has a parallel printer port and a USB port.

          Seems like I remember there was some adapter I could use to make it wireless WIFI. IOGear makes a GUWIP quad USB WIFI extender that works well with the P3005 USB port to my HP/Compaq CQ56 WIN 7. Local Intranet.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Monday August 14 2023, @11:27PM

            by RS3 (6367) on Monday August 14 2023, @11:27PM (#1320321)

            About 8 years ago near me were a couple of clothing donation bins in the back of an HD parking lot. Within days a HUGE pile of all kinds of crap appeared. Even though much was useful stuff, it would all end up in landfill at someone's expense. Fortunately it was getting picked over. Frankly I would strongly advocate for community sharing warehouses somewhere. Anyway, point is: I grabbed an HP LaserJet 2100 that I love. Still works perfectly, same toner cartridge it came with. If it sits too long printing gets messed up, but careful cleaning of drum and gentle rocking of toner and it works like a champ.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by owl on Sunday August 13 2023, @09:59PM (2 children)

      by owl (15206) on Sunday August 13 2023, @09:59PM (#1320195)

      I had one of those Canon all-in-ones that stopped scanning and faxing when the magenta ran out.

      FWIW, the HP 'consumer' level printers that one buys at Staples or Best Buy or such are all actually Canon printers. HP simply sub-contracts with Canon for all of their "consumer level" printers. HP has not made their own consumer grade printer for at least 2-3 decades.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by weirsbaski on Sunday August 13 2023, @11:51PM (1 child)

        by weirsbaski (4539) on Sunday August 13 2023, @11:51PM (#1320202)

        I had one of those Canon all-in-ones that stopped scanning and faxing when the magenta ran out.

        FWIW, the HP 'consumer' level printers that one buys at Staples or Best Buy or such are all actually Canon printers. HP simply sub-contracts with Canon for all of their "consumer level" printers.

        Fair enough, but it's still reasonable to think that a policy of "no ink, no functionality" is pushed onto Canon by HP, using the contract terms to make sure it happens to HP's satisfaction.

        • (Score: 2) by owl on Monday August 14 2023, @02:34AM

          by owl (15206) on Monday August 14 2023, @02:34AM (#1320211)

          I had one of those Canon all-in-ones that stopped scanning and faxing when the magenta ran out.

          FWIW, the HP 'consumer' level printers that one buys at Staples or Best Buy or such are all actually Canon printers. HP simply sub-contracts with Canon for all of their "consumer level" printers.

          Fair enough, but it's still reasonable to think that a policy of "no ink, no functionality" is pushed onto Canon by HP, using the contract terms to make sure it happens to HP's satisfaction.

          That is very possible, or it is possible that Canon makes them work that way, and HP did not bother to complain, because that operation method would drive sales for those not smart enough to realize they were being shafted.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by istartedi on Sunday August 13 2023, @05:01PM (1 child)

    by istartedi (123) on Sunday August 13 2023, @05:01PM (#1320168) Journal

    This shouldn't be a problem. People need ink to make the printer work. Some people can't afford ink, so we can start a program to help those people. It would work like this: If you can't afford ink, send a copy of your tax return along with Ink Assistance Application form filled out properly in either electronic or paper form to a registered ink insurance plan along with a modest co-pay. If your request is granted you will be able to queue at the local office supply store and receive ink at a fair price from a local dispensary, assuming it's in your insurance plan's network your copay should suffice, otherwise you may be charged extra based on a proprietary algorithm which is no concern of yours. With everybody covered by ink insurance there's no need for you to even think about the price of ink.

    --
    Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13 2023, @08:46PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13 2023, @08:46PM (#1320190)

      Click Accept to authorize monthly subscription or OK to debit your checking account. Error! Please add a valid payment card to your MyPrinter account.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:14PM (4 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:14PM (#1320172)

    when someone sues a manufacturer for disabling a scanner on the basis that the printer it's part of isn't fed ink, and everybody cheers with slight disbelief a partial victory of the little guy over the giant manufacturer.

    What next? Ford gets sued for not letting the doors unlock if the tank is low?

    A mere 25 years ago, any court would have immediately slammed the manufacturer for pulling shit like that. In fact, a mere 25 years ago, no manufacturer would have even tried it. But this sort of outrageous idiocy, and actually having to argue against it as if there was anything sensible to argue about, is the new normal in corporate dystopia.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Gaaark on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:56PM (3 children)

      by Gaaark (41) on Sunday August 13 2023, @06:56PM (#1320179) Journal

      Windows 3.1 was available March 1992, (about 30 years ago) and it's eula states "The software is licensed, not sold".
      -- https://www.slideshare.net/Aryfat/windows-installer-31-eula-49217268 [slideshare.net]

      I'd say MS started the whole silliness.... so yeah. F*ck you MS. :P

      Microsoft is why we can't have anything nice. ;)

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13 2023, @08:50PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 13 2023, @08:50PM (#1320191)

        It's a rent seeking economy. Everything is rented, always matching (or beating) inflation. No escape from the hamster wheel.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14 2023, @05:06AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14 2023, @05:06AM (#1320222)

          "You will own nothing, and be happy!"

          So, I learn to steal?

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by jb on Monday August 14 2023, @05:50AM

        by jb (338) on Monday August 14 2023, @05:50AM (#1320226)

        Windows 3.1 was available March 1992, (about 30 years ago) and it's eula states "The software is licensed, not sold".

        I'd say MS started the whole silliness.... so yeah. F*ck you MS. :P

        I enjoy bashing Microsoft as much as the next guy (and who wouldn't? after all there's just so much they've done wrong!).

        But blaming Microsoft for software (in general) attracting copyright (i.e. needing to be licensed) simply isn't accurate.

        For the original source of that particular push, see the IBM "unbundling" exercise of 1967/68. There was a great article about it in the IEEE Annals of Computing History a decade or two back.

        But that's hardly relevant to this story. Today just about everyone (yes, even the FSF) has accepted that software attracts copyright (and therefore distributing it requires a license of some form, unless the copyright has expired or the authors declare it to be in the public domain). Many of us may have strong views about the absurd duration of copyright today and/or what sorts of terms should be in software licenses, but exempting software from copyright altogether isn't really on anyone's agenda today (as far as I know).

        The problem here is that machinery is being "sold" but with the purchaser's right to free enjoyment of his newly acquired property being artificially limited by the manufacturer. That's not Microsoft's fault either. Rather, the blame lies directly with crooks like HP (as in the current story), John Deere, etc.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by FuzzyTheBear on Sunday August 13 2023, @07:07PM (4 children)

    by FuzzyTheBear (974) on Sunday August 13 2023, @07:07PM (#1320182)

    Ever since they sold the scientific instrument division they kept going down and down.
    From superb engineering to crappy as it gets .. That's the heritage of people who want to make money first and make decent products last.
    " Who cares if it's broken in 2 months .. as long as we make money we're good "

    • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Sunday August 13 2023, @09:17PM (2 children)

      by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 13 2023, @09:17PM (#1320192) Journal

      Who cares if it's broken in 2 months .. as long as we make money

      Arguably a product that breaks early can be more desirable, from the manufacturer's point of view (if they can get away with it) as it puts the end user in the market to buy another.

      • (Score: 2) by owl on Monday August 14 2023, @02:36AM (1 child)

        by owl (15206) on Monday August 14 2023, @02:36AM (#1320212)

        Indeed. If you build a product that never breaks down, then there comes some point in the future where every customer for your product has one, and your sales drop to zero.

        Can't maintain the yearly cashflow that way.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14 2023, @08:18AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14 2023, @08:18AM (#1320232)

          Yep. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoebus_cartel [wikipedia.org]

          Even till today the standard for bulbs is around 1000 hours. And might even eventually be true for many LED bulbs too - their drivers fail even if the LEDs and phosphors don't fail that fast.

    • (Score: 2) by cmdrklarg on Monday August 14 2023, @09:00PM

      by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 14 2023, @09:00PM (#1320297)

      Last on the list? Make decent products isn't even ON the list.

      --
      The world is full of kings and queens who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14 2023, @09:16AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14 2023, @09:16AM (#1320234)

    I work for a company that sells document scanners. Obviously they work fine without ink.

    Ever so often, you need to perform an image calibration on these devices, to smooth out uneven lighting or an aging glass plate.
    It's done by clicking a button in the driver software.

    Some time ago, Kodak locked out these functions with an access code.
    You now need to call in a technician to perform the calibration (and they'll bill you two hours for it).

    • (Score: 2) by jasassin on Monday August 14 2023, @01:30PM

      by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Monday August 14 2023, @01:30PM (#1320254) Homepage Journal

      Im curious if you tried to find an older driver/software-package to use for calibration (yeah, I know, good luck with that... but maybe).

      --
      jasassin@gmail.com GPG Key ID: 0xE6462C68A9A3DB5A
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