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Old 2006-11-05, 00:16   Link #1
Cal-Reflector
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State of the American Anime Industry

Having tremendous respect of the amount of collective knowledge contained in this forum, I have several questions for a college research project of mine, and thought I might look for some input here for those forumers or mods who may have it:

1)Is there any way to determine the size of the American anime market? Perhaps through Convention attendance, DVD sales and revenue? Is the anime fanbase expanding, and if so, what portion due to fansubbing and others through more conventional means of exposure? Growth indicators, perhaps like the usage rates of such forums like animesuki, torrent download counts, viewership and authorship of anime blogs?

2)The state of finances for anime distributors in the US, including television and those that are branches of Japanese corporations.

3)How much does licensing anime cost?

4)The present state of relations between the fansubbing/viewing community and the Distributors.

5)The possible impact of a new form of anime licensing distribution, for example... 99 cents an episode through online download made available with subtitles as soon as they air in Japan.
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Old 2006-11-05, 00:56   Link #2
bayoab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal-Reflector View Post
1)Is there any way to determine the size of the American anime market? Perhaps through Convention attendance, DVD sales and revenue? Is the anime fanbase expanding, and if so, what portion due to fansubbing and others through more conventional means of exposure? Growth indicators, perhaps like the usage rates of such forums like animesuki, torrent download counts, viewership and authorship of anime blogs?
The fanbase bubble has finally burst. It is not longer exponential growth and is now probably logarithmic. (Imagine a population growth curve.) Most of the growth is due to the wider exposure in regular stores, on TV, and other places. There is no way to determine the actual size of the market.

Quote:
2)The state of finances for anime distributors in the US, including television and those that are branches of Japanese corporations.
Beside Funimation (Navarre) and 4kids, all of the US companies are private and therefore are secret. Funimation did well this quarter, 4kids didn't. CPM just came back from going broke. [AS] is unhappy with its action raitings as always and toonami is happy with naruto.

Quote:
3)How much does licensing anime cost?
Anywhere between 10000/episode and 100000/episode. Some OVAs and movies go for millions.

Quote:
4)The present state of relations between the fansubbing/viewing community and the Distributors.
Same as its been for the past 3 years. Distributors think fansubbers are a warez scene and the people who watch fansubs think licensors are evil and taking their anime from them (in general.)

Quote:
5)The possible impact of a new form of anime licensing distribution, for example... 99 cents an episode through online download made available with subtitles as soon as they air in Japan.
Impossible. Absolutely impossible. The japanese are afraid of letting outsiders access their shows for pay access (and its always pay to stream.) There is not going to be downloading or subtitles.
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Old 2006-11-05, 01:02   Link #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal-Reflector View Post
Having tremendous respect of the amount of collective knowledge contained in this forum, I have several questions for a college research project of mine, and thought I might look for some input here for those forumers or mods who may have it:

1)Is there any way to determine the size of the American anime market? Perhaps through Convention attendance, DVD sales and revenue? Is the anime fanbase expanding, and if so, what portion due to fansubbing and others through more conventional means of exposure? Growth indicators, perhaps like the usage rates of such forums like animesuki, torrent download counts, viewership and authorship of anime blogs?

2)The state of finances for anime distributors in the US, including television and those that are branches of Japanese corporations.

3)How much does licensing anime cost?

4)The present state of relations between the fansubbing/viewing community and the Distributors.

5)The possible impact of a new form of anime licensing distribution, for example... 99 cents an episode through online download made available with subtitles as soon as they air in Japan.
Just my opinions:

1. Convention attendance is probably the one place to get reliable numbers over a number of years, and is a good way to estimate growth, but is obviously only a measure of a particular segment of the fanbase. DVD sales numbers are normally not made public, so you'd have to interview people from the licensors themselves, but they probably won't say. Another useful number is to count the total number of anime DVDs being released every month. Overall, it's quite difficult to estimate the total population of anime fans in america.

2. This is very difficult information to get. You could try interviewing indivuals in the corporations and asking for numbers off the record, but the only sure way is to investigate companies that are publically traded (such as 4kids). Most anime distribution companies are privately owned, however, so it's difficult to say.

3. More company trade secrets. This is, in fact, probably one of the most closely guarded secrets in the industry out there. You can get estimates from some academic articles, but as for specifics "Anime X was licensed for X dollars" you're pretty much SOL.

4. Be careful here... the "fansubbing" and the "viewing" communities can be quite different. As for concrete evidence beyond simply forum anecdotes, you can research the number of C&D letters that have been sent to various groups over the years and the reaction of the fan community. An "infamous" example is the MFI: see this thread http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=25005
although that happened a few years ago.

5. Pure fiction at this point. Feel free to speculate, but no one has ever had a legitimate plan to pull this off. The primary reason is that the Japanese licensors would have to implement this themselves, and they generally consider anything outside of japan a "secondary" market. The only possibility would be for a series which is co-funded by an american company where licensing was enevitable from the beginning. As an example of the difficulties, Bandai of Japan recently started offering many episode 1's as free downloads from its website, however recently it began blocking IPs from outside of japan. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/ "Bandai Channel Blocked from Foreign Access (2006-11-02 09:48:44)"

Even old shows offered for online download through services like "amazon unbox" are priced at $2 and episode minimum, and are dub only. So any service like you describe would require a true visionary with a LOT of capital and some serious japanese connections.
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Old 2006-11-05, 08:34   Link #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayoab View Post
Same as its been for the past 3 years. Distributors think fansubbers are a warez scene and the people who watch fansubs think licensors are evil and taking their anime from them (in general.)
I find that somewhat odd. You're saying people who watch the stuff I work on think like that? I'm gonna stop if that's what everyone wants lol....

Well, just like the others, my opinions.

1. It can be determined. But you're going to have to cross reference alot of summaries, like quarter-stat summaries and year end summaries from many kinds of sources, ie DVD sales, conventions figures, tv ratings, etc. But, the only way to truly determine it is to have the corporate knowledge and connections

2. I find this an odd question. But bayoab and Quarkboy said it quite well, so I'll let the next question show you why I think this question is a bit odd

3. How does licensing cost? Oh, that's....not a good question lol. We also need to add in all the other rights tied to acquiring a series. There is a difference between license for distribution and just plain license. The things is, you need to take into account what kind of license it would be. I'll try to make this lay-man understandable. My case will be an example, true story I contacted my local asian TV station regarding airing anime on their station. I was told.....that if I have the broadcast rights I can negotiate a price for airtime. Wow, a question that was personal got a corporate reply lol. Point being, I learned something that day(several years ago). "Broadcast rights" stuck into my mind like a new brain cell lol. Which meant if I could acquire the broadcast rights for, say, Mahoraba, I'm guessing it would not be as expensive as acquiring a dubbing and distribution license, seeing as how it would be in a raw and un-subtitled state. So my point being, how much licensing costs, can only be determined by the licensor's plan of distribution, as in dub and DVD it only, dub and TV it only, just plain distribute it untouched, etc...

4. I probably wouldn't like to comment on this, but fansubbing is a fan thing, meaning me for example, I'm doing fansub work because I have free time and it's a good learning experience, or a good experience overall. Some people don't like doing fansubs because they think it's not rewarding enough, as in paid for their time lol. But there are a number of fansubbers out there who will stand by their "doing it for fun" approach for fansubbing. As for relations between distributors, it's actually quite a funny thing. Seeing as how distributors have more power, it's more of a "I show my fangs, then you shall fear" or perhaps in a better way to describe, if a distributor licenses an anime, that means all distributions of fansubs are to cease. In this case we all know that never is the case, but that has been a general rule applied to fanusbs by, in a way, ourselves(fansubbers) lol. In which some of us give the usual reply "Oh no, they better not make it a bad dub" or what not applies to it. In a retrospect, some of us would like it to be licensed, some of us don't. So in a way I have a good relationship with distributors. Because they can translate it for me LOL

5. Possible new form? First thing we need to do is obliterate the ebayers, then the HK's, then....lol....but yeah, the old evil form of these ebayers who offer cheap azz dvd's in which they leave out the crucial last episode lol. But downloading a subtitled form after it airs? That's.....only if the fans pay for it the subtitling lol in which the case is....no lol. But still, even if we pay for the subtitling that still isn't going to happen because more money will be lost lol...

So, in a way, my experiences and opinions. Which I hope is informative and amusing
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Old 2006-11-05, 11:40   Link #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayoab View Post
Same as its been for the past 3 years. Distributors think fansubbers are a warez scene and the people who watch fansubs think licensors are evil and taking their anime from them (in general.)
I personally believe that this is a myth perpetuated by the community at large. If you're looking at Japanese companies, only 2 companies have ever taken action or spoken out against fansubbers: MFI and Bandai. The majority of japanese producers don't bother with fansubbers and generally leave things be.

American producers also generally don't bother with fansubbers UNLESS fansub production continue on a product that they have licensed. Why should they bother when it effectively has no impact on them? Since many fansubbers drop a series once a license is announced, I don't believe that American distributors really look that badly at fansubbers. In fact, it was because of fansubs that ADV decided to license Azumanga Daioh.

Fansubs are like a double edge sword for American distributors. On one hand, they give an indication as to how popular a show is, on the other hand, it means that should they license a fansubbed show, it will already have been distributed and a portion of their target market will have been lost. The perspective on fansubs in the American distribution industry is actually quite varied and not as simple and concrete as some people like to believe.
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Old 2006-11-05, 13:05   Link #6
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Originally Posted by Js2756 View Post
I personally believe that this is a myth perpetuated by the community at large. If you're looking at Japanese companies, only 2 companies have ever taken action or spoken out against fansubbers: MFI and Bandai. The majority of japanese producers don't bother with fansubbers and generally leave things be.

American producers also generally don't bother with fansubbers UNLESS fansub production continue on a product that they have licensed. Why should they bother when it effectively has no impact on them? Since many fansubbers drop a series once a license is announced, I don't believe that American distributors really look that badly at fansubbers. In fact, it was because of fansubs that ADV decided to license Azumanga Daioh.

Fansubs are like a double edge sword for American distributors. On one hand, they give an indication as to how popular a show is, on the other hand, it means that should they license a fansubbed show, it will already have been distributed and a portion of their target market will have been lost. The perspective on fansubs in the American distribution industry is actually quite varied and not as simple and concrete as some people like to believe.

Maybe it's only 2 companies are publicly saying something. YouTube has had Japanese companies and the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers coming after them (Reuters.com, 10/20/06). Winny has had crackdowns (Anime News Service, 10/10/06). Even Square Enix went after someone who uploaded FF7:AC.

Also, Viz has also come out against fansubs. FUNimation has also gone after fansubbers and sent a C&D to this site recently.

Your positon echoes the general pro-fansub one.
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Old 2006-11-05, 13:17   Link #7
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Please don't let the discussion drift off-topic...

Read the first post and reply based on that.
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Old 2006-11-05, 13:57   Link #8
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Actually, the original response may be a response to question 4.
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Old 2006-11-05, 14:42   Link #9
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Maybe it's only 2 companies are publicly saying something. YouTube has had Japanese companies and the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers coming after them (Reuters.com, 10/20/06). Winny has had crackdowns (Anime News Service, 10/10/06). Even Square Enix went after someone who uploaded FF7:AC.

Also, Viz has also come out against fansubs. FUNimation has also gone after fansubbers and sent a C&D to this site recently.

Your positon echoes the general pro-fansub one.
And how many of these are for shows that they have licenses for or are planning on Stateside release? Probably all of them. They're taking steps to protect their own property, and frankly, fansubbers shouldn't be subbing things that are licensed anyways.

Square Enix had plans from the get go to release AC stateside, so if course they're going to crack down on people that fansub it. The fansubbers knew as well that it was just a matter of time before it would get a proper translation and release. It's the same case as with GitS: SSS. Even before it was aired in Japan, there were already plans for a stateside release, hence why Bandai pre-emptively chose to tell fansubbers to expect legal action if they subbed it.

As far as Youtube goes, Youtube is not a fansubber or a fansub group. All they do is distribute videos. The reaction of anime companies to Youtube is entirely different than that of fansubbers. Same argument can be levied against Winny, not a fansub group or a fansubber. Going after distribution is not the same as going after fansubbers.

“We can’t treat fansubbers as pirates, they serve the purpose of introducing products. They can be used by the industry to see what is the next big thing. Beyond that they anime fans are not passive fans. They are active fans. They like to be involved with the product and the community. I think that it is important to work with the fansubbers and not against them” says marketing manager of Urban Vision, Robyn Mukai.
- http://www.siliconera.com/2006/07/12...ate-of-piracy/

Frankly, I find it kind of flattering, not threatening. To be honest, I
believe that if the music industry had used downloading and file
sharing properly, it would have increased their business, not eaten
into it. And, hey, if you get 2,000 fans saying they want a book
you've never heard of, well, you gotta go out and get it.

-Steve Kleckner, of TokyoPop quoted in Manga Nation (this is with regards to scanlations, not fansubs, but it still conveys the same point).

Obviously, not everyone in the industry thinks that fansubbers are trouble.
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Old 2006-11-05, 15:18   Link #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal-Reflector View Post
1)Is there any way to determine the size of the American anime market? Perhaps through Convention attendance, DVD sales and revenue? Is the anime fanbase expanding, and if so, what portion due to fansubbing and others through more conventional means of exposure? Growth indicators, perhaps like the usage rates of such forums like animesuki, torrent download counts, viewership and authorship of anime blogs?
I agree with Quarkboy's post here, he said it better than I can.

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Originally Posted by Cal-Reflector View Post
4)The present state of relations between the fansubbing/viewing community and the Distributors.
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Old 2006-11-05, 15:46   Link #11
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All in context of question 4 state of relations.

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Originally Posted by Js2756 View Post
If you're looking at Japanese companies, only 2 companies have ever taken action or spoken out against fansubbers: MFI and Bandai. The majority of japanese producers don't bother with fansubbers and generally leave things be.
Kyoto animation has sent cease and desist letters before (for unlicensed content). Sunrise sent C&D's to youtube to remove fansubs and raws. As much as they like the publicity, the Japanese are very unhappy that people pass around their content for free on the net.

Quote:
American producers also generally don't bother with fansubbers UNLESS fansub production continue on a product that they have licensed. Why should they bother when it effectively has no impact on them?
Because they cannot send a C&D unless they have the rights or are give permission by the creators. Also, it does affect them: The price of Naruto suddenly skyrocketed when they saw the fansub popularity. Various series have had their sales completely killed by fansubs. ADV, Funi, Viz, Geneon, and Bandai have come out saying that they are bad for the industry as a whole.
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Old 2006-11-06, 03:25   Link #12
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Some of those groups NEED to learn how to fansub an anime properly before making claims while others have gotten it down to an art. XD

I'm no expert, but I'd say that fansubbing has hurt the industry too. No accusations to the fansubbers, of course, but the amount of money that seems to go into licensing, dubbing, and distributing an anime is probably staggering, yet a percentage of those fans decide that if there is/was a free one online, why should they bother to go out and buy the series? Of course, this means less sales, less anime being licensed, and the DVDs stay at higher prices, which in turn hurt sales all over again. So yes, I can see why quite a few companies have got complaints. I mean, the likelihood of... let's say Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha being licensed is close to zero despite its popularity BECAUSE, among other things, the accessiblity of it online for free.

Personally, I pride myself in saving up for and buying whole series at a time whenever I can.
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Old 2006-11-06, 03:49   Link #13
Cal-Reflector
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Originally Posted by animefanrk2k View Post
Some of those groups NEED to learn how to fansub an anime properly before making claims while others have gotten it down to an art. XD

I'm no expert, but I'd say that fansubbing has hurt the industry too. No accusations to the fansubbers, of course, but the amount of money that seems to go into licensing, dubbing, and distributing an anime is probably staggering, yet a percentage of those fans decide that if there is/was a free one online, why should they bother to go out and buy the series? Of course, this means less sales, less anime being licensed, and the DVDs stay at higher prices, which in turn hurt sales all over again. So yes, I can see why quite a few companies have got complaints. I mean, the likelihood of... let's say Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha being licensed is close to zero despite its popularity BECAUSE, among other things, the accessiblity of it online for free.

Personally, I pride myself in saving up for and buying whole series at a time whenever I can.
Interesting, so if 5 were an option, would it change the way you consumed animed? I actually know a few friends who also both watch fansubs and buy DVDs (on an infrequent basis), but believe that for everyone of those there are probably a dozen... more frugal fans like myself who only download.

A friend recently showed me a Japanese news article graphing the financial woes of a major Japanese corporation whose business is anime DVDs, in which the annual projection was revised from a profit of about 150 million yet to a loss of some 350 million yen.

Those who are Japanese fluent (not partially literate like me) should also take time to read the Japanese wikipedia article on anime, which sets down in fair detail the process of production, who finances what, who gets to keep what, and even includes a good lengthed segment on overseas fansubbing.

Thanks to everyone whose contributed so far... lets keep this up!
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Old 2006-11-06, 05:42   Link #14
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Like they said, the opinions vary, but I feel overall that fansubs are a positive force. Granted, there will always be the cheap people that will download instead of buy shows. What you have to ask yourself though, is how many people are downloading that WOULD have bought it instead, and now aren't? Vs. how many had no idea and a show and now went out and bought the entire series. I would say the latter is far far more true. They aren't losing any money if the people weren't going to buy something in the first place.

The groups that do continue subbing after US licensing do hurt the position of fansubbers somewhat, but I can understand it under certain situations. There are a number of shows that get licensed and then the company sits on the license for a long time, or they get 2/3 thru the series and then it's licensed and people really want to see how it ends, etc. So I can see where they are coming from there.
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Old 2006-11-06, 06:04   Link #15
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Like they said, the opinions vary, but I feel overall that fansubs are a positive force.
I agree with this.

To those who think fansubs are bad for the industry as a whole. I'm interested in knowing where you think the American anime industry would be by now if English fansubs never existed to begin with?
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Old 2006-11-06, 09:53   Link #16
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To those who think fansubs are bad for the industry as a whole. I'm interested in knowing where you think the American anime industry would be by now if English fansubs never existed to begin with?
The context of that statement was "Presently" and can be expanded to "within the past 3 years".
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Old 2006-11-06, 09:56   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JediNight View Post
The groups that do continue subbing after US licensing do hurt the position of fansubbers somewhat, but I can understand it under certain situations. There are a number of shows that get licensed and then the company sits on the license for a long time, or they get 2/3 thru the series and then it's licensed and people really want to see how it ends, etc. So I can see where they are coming from there.
This is true to a considerable degree, many ways. One way is Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch. Sure, fansubs stalled around the 23rd episode, and fan following was dwindling until finally, it got licensed. Hopes reached record highs, only to have them crushed by the de-license by ADV about a year later. Now, with both MMPPP series finished airing long ago, it is hard to find someone who would want to english fansub them again and pick up where it was left off. Someone other than me, of course fan following now seems to be only existant within those of us who followed it from episode 1

But that serious part inside me was hoping so much that I would have a ADV-ized DVD on my lap, enjoying the Limited Edition collectibles that came with it's first production run....maybe I'm still hoping that it is secretly licensed....
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Old 2006-11-06, 14:02   Link #18
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Originally Posted by bayoab View Post
All in context of question 4 state of relations.

Kyoto animation has sent cease and desist letters before (for unlicensed content). Sunrise sent C&D's to youtube to remove fansubs and raws. As much as they like the publicity, the Japanese are very unhappy that people pass around their content for free on the net.

Because they cannot send a C&D unless they have the rights or are give permission by the creators. Also, it does affect them: The price of Naruto suddenly skyrocketed when they saw the fansub popularity. Various series have had their sales completely killed by fansubs. ADV, Funi, Viz, Geneon, and Bandai have come out saying that they are bad for the industry as a whole.
You're once again confusing distributors with fansubbers. Youtube is not a fansubber. All they do is distribute videos. Nobody who is in the media distribution business likes someone else who distributes media for free. This was why there was so much hate against Napstar, bittorrent, and various other P2P programs. Even if fansubs weren't hosted by Youtube, Sunrise would still probably go after them for the raws alone.

This is something that a lot of distributors are pissed about, but it doesn't mean that they automatically lump fansubs in with distributors (despite the fact that a lot of fansub groups do provide distribution channels).

This is something that Matt Greenfield of ADV recognizes:
Greenfield said that he had no problem with conventions or clubs making their own in-house fansubs for screening purposes, but "whoever's doing it needs to buckle down" and buy Japanese DVD releases and not distribute the tapes, DVDs or other materials.
- http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/convention.php?id=210

Not all fansubbers distribute. The anime club at my university sometimes screen fansubs that they have personally made to members at their shows and they also obtain the permission of the production company from Japan to do so. Making blanket statements, especially in the context of an academic paper (which the original poster is thinking of writing), is usually not a sound way of either being a basis or support for an argument.
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