back to article Dead author's estate snatches child's domain

A British couple has lost the battle to keep the domain name which they claimed was only registered so that their son could have a Narnia-related email address. The address will transfer to a company representing CS Lewis's estate. Richard and Fiona Saville-Smith failed to convince an arbitration panel of the World …


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  1. Tawakalna


    CS Lewis would be turning in his grave. it's exactly this sort of petty cavilling and legalistic bullying that he loathed and mocked in the Narnia stories and his Ransom space trilogy.

    I did wonder when you'd get round to reporting on this at Vulture Central, i heard an interview with the couple a while and it's pretty obvious that they were just buying an unusual gift for their kids, because the kids happen to like Narnia.

    All that for a few quid The poor folks might have to sell their home now to pay for legal fees. I hope the Narnia company rot in hell, or rather the outer darkness of Aslan's other door.

  2. Kerberos

    Quite right!

    Good! I am glad they lost it.

    There is nothing I hate more than cyber squatters. Registering it just so their brat son could have a narnia email address? So they are not even going to use it, really.

    I am sure that if they did win they would offer to sell it for a 'modest fee' to cover expenses.

  3. paul
    Thumb Down

    conflict of interests

    Why is the WIPO deciding who gets what? Surely an independant body would be fairer.

    "WIPO is responsible for the promotion of the protection of intellectual property throughout the world through cooperation among States"

    By the way - I hearby form a company called 'The' , any use of the word 'The' is a violation of my IP rights. All domain names with 'The' in the text belong to me.

  4. Matt

    Another example

    of their "make it up as we go along" approach to make sure big companies/organisations get what they want.

  5. Simon Painter

    They should find another related domain name...

    and then put a site on that domain explaining their case and how they have been unfairly treated. that would be, by definition, a legitimate use

    as a side effect their daughter gets a narnia address again

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Take the domain but at least play nice and give the kid a address or something. Would take 2 seconds to do and possibly make them look less like total gitbags.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe the registrars........

    Shouldn't sell domain names that obviously include trademark type names, or maybe trademark owners should be forced to buy every possible domain which includes anything they might find to be in "bad faith" a couple of years down the line?

  8. David Hicks

    Is it just me...?

    Or did anyone else see the Narnia posters that were everywhere a few weeks back and think -

    "He looks just like a young Arnold Rimmer"

  9. Al
    Paris Hilton

    Here we go again

    Didn't they learn anything from the whole Harry Potter debacle all those years ago? Admittedly, some of the facts here are different - there is no web site, for example, but there is still no commercial use nor any attempt at passing off. Even so, we're back in the same position of a young fan being rolled over by a company more interested in zealously protecting revenue than anything else.

    It looks like the estate of CS Lewis has accepted the turkish delight from the film company lawyers. Any reader of the books will know what happens once you do that.

  10. Andy Dingley

    Who forces Narnia on their kids?

    "so that their son could have a Narnia-related email address."

    That's not just bad faith, that's Cruel and Unusual. No matter how much money and CGI Hollywood throws at these things, CS Lewis is always going to be the naffest "improving" literature ever foisted upon suffering, embarassed kids.

    Did LotR have to be made out of order, cherry-picking the least feeble of the tales first? No.

    Mind, if they make "The Silver Chair", Puddleglum might sell to the emo-kid market.

  11. David Gosnell

    CS Lewis wasn't first

    Narnia was a city of Roman Italy, now known as Narni.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is 'Narnia' even a trademark?

    OR can anyone just make up words and claim the exclusive right to them?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dead authors and 'Moral' rights

    If you recall the 'debate*' over 95 years performance copyrights vs 50 year performance copyrights.

    When we had the open debate in the UK, the conclusion was to keep it at 50 years, the approximate lifespan of a human (i.e. make work at 30, die at 80 = 50 years). It's clear the IP lobbyists see this as a way to get all types of copyright extended bit by bit. Extend performance copyright, get them extended to the children of the performer, then move on to other forms of copyright.

    CS Lewis of course won't write anymore work, and his estate still has copyright till 2033, so they're not likely to invest in new works or authors (perhaps they'll invest in lobbyists to get the gravy train line extended). Other companies would have to pay Lewis Estate to create derivative works.

    C.S. Lewis (Pte) Ltd. is a Singapore company for tax reasons presumably. It makes sense that copyright licensing businesses will migrate to tax havens, since there's not productive work needed to maintain their 'work'. It will not create business inside Europe (infact derivative work done in Europe because the authors are here has to pay licenses to non productive licensing companies in tax havens).

    Meanwhile some of Cliff's Songs performances have gone out of copyright.... did anyone notice? Bill Haley's performances are out of copyright now, is the world changed?

    My point here is this:

    When stuff goes out of copyright, it is not the end of the world, even performance copyrights. Let them die already!

    Dead authors have no moral rights to their work, they're dead, get over it.

    By extending copyright past someones lifespan, you automatically move the lobbyist fight onto the children, and the grand children and the great grandchildren.

    'Moral' rights get really crappy at this point, the 'Lewis' estate did no more write that work than the Saville Smiths.

    Contracts get crappy after people deaths, a writers estate can claim they act in the writers interests, even product contracts, but nobody can show the truth of this because the writer is dead and can't testify as to the truth of the contract.

    Financially you will end up with a bunch of old works sold and resold to Europe from external tax havens and new works will be competing with the marketing of these old paid-for works.

    Creating fake IP rights creates unproductive burden on the rest of us. It is not the way to add value.

    * By 'debate' I mean another McCreevy - Lobbyist love-in.

  14. Mark

    re: conflict of interests

    Nah, create a company called "com" and take over all domains with "com" in the name as a separate word.





  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm slightly embarrassed to say, being on the internet for years, but I've never heard or come across such an extension... Let the baby have its bottle, or in this case its email address.

  16. Anonymous John

    @ disgusting..

    "The poor folks might have to sell their home now to pay for legal fees."

    If so, that was their choice. They could have handed the name over when first asked to.

    I'm surprised they fought it. The cost of losing clearly outweighed any benefit of winning.

  17. Anonymous Coward


    Well, we knew this already but WIPO are really only concerned about protecting commecial interests. So of course despite no evidence of bad faith they're going to rule for the big company over the private individual. How many times have we seen this now?

    By the way anything which happened /after/ the complaint is irrelevant - especially if it was part of an attempt to raise public awareness - otherwise we'd have hired PIs trying desperately to goad people into doing something prejudicial. WIPO shuold know that. But then they're not a legal body, they're a commercial one.

    ps @andy - they're making the films in the correct order. MN is a prequel and H&B was not only written after Caspian but is a side-story.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I don't get it....

    Why are people bitching about this?

    if I registered, just in case I want to use it, do I expect Disney to give me a bolicking? Yes!

    It's not as if her Kids name is Narnia after all.

    BTW is available to buy should you want to rub salt into the wound.

    I may register it for my 1 month old, just in case she becomes famous and I want to use it for a email address.

  19. Kerberos

    Apply it to anything else.

    If you applied the same thinking as the parents to any other trademark, for example 'I registered as I wanted a Microsoft email address', or 'I registered as I wanted a Nokia email address' it clearly doesn't fly.

    Why is this turning into a discussion on copyright anyway? The purpose of this is Trademark infringement, and the parents decided to buy the name of a massive blockbuster movie shortly before its released and claim innocence.

    Allowing anyone any domain name at all, irrespective of trademark infringement, simply because 'they want it' removes all barriers for extortionist cybersquatters.

    You have to look at the larger impact of a ruling for the parents in this case.

  20. Tom Silver badge


    In what possible way is it out of sequence? I've always read them in publication order, and recommend it. I wouldnt give a kid the full set of 7 books and go "here, start reading at 'The Magicians Nephew'". It would be nonsensical and confusing. Much better to get them hooked on Narnia through 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', and I guess Disney agreed.

  21. Simon B

    Lewis and WIPO - acting like thieving scum

    Oh look, we missed an address, let's cry about it and pretend it's theft. World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) & the Lewis estate are the thieving bastards here. If I was Richard and Fiona Saville-Smith I'd make it my lifes work to expose the Lewis estate for what they did and are; thieving scum that took a childs domain name just because it was the name of some dead fucker and the estate had missed the name so were loosing money from the dead man.


    That's my opinion anyway.

  22. Peyton
    Thumb Down

    For those confused about the complainting comments

    WIPO said it would have been OK if there was no commercial interest.

    There was no commercial interest.

    Ergo, all the WTFs?!

    This was all in the article... (Also Snow White is a Grimm fairy tale I believe, so that example wouldn't be clear cut either, I'm thinking)

  23. Steve

    @ Kerberos

    "The purpose of this is Trademark infringement, and the parents decided to buy the name of a massive blockbuster movie shortly before its released and claim innocence."

    It's not the name of a blockbuster movie, it's the name of a place in a work of fiction that is older than you are. This isn't even the first adaption from the book - I remember seeing it over 20 years ago.

    "Allowing anyone any domain name at all, irrespective of trademark infringement, simply because 'they want it' removes all barriers for extortionist cybersquatters."

    And legalising pot means we'll have smack-filled donuts on sale in Woolworths... Try again.

    If it's non-commercial use, let them keep it. You can even order the registrar to refuse to allow it to be transferred. The moment they try and sell it or use it for anything other than the email that they claim it was for, *then* you come down on them as it is only *then* that they are doing something wrong.

    And it's not like it's going to be hard to catch them out if they do try and make money out of it because it's a fucking URL!

  24. Someone

    WIPO Top Tip

    If you want a domain name for email, and it’s not the name on your birth certificate, add a worldwide rights search into its price.

  25. Clive Harris
    IT Angle

    Interesting story about origin of Narnia books

    There's an interesting story about the first Narnia book "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe". The inside cover always carries a dedication to "Lucy Barfield", who was the daughter of Lewis' solicitor, Owen Barfield. The book and the dedication were a gift to Owen after he had got Lewis out of some serious legal strife caused by his extreme generosity, coupled with financial cluelessness.

    Lewis never had much idea about money and, when his books started to sell, he gave all the money away - reasoning that he should be able to live on his salary as a university lecturer. He never kept records and it never occurred to him that the taxman might need to get involved. After quite a few years, the inland revenue finally caught up with him and, since he'd given all the money away, with no records of who he's given it to, he was in a lot of trouble. In one of his books he described a visit to the tax office and his encounter with "that loathsome creature behind the counter".

    Barfield eventually got him out of the mess and, apparently, wouldn't accept any payment. The book was Lewis' way of thanking him. Truly a most remarkable man.

    No IT angle whatsoever. Lewis hated technology and never even worked out how to drive a car, but still very interesting.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    WIPO have lost the plot

    Domain name != website.

    There is no reason why a domain should not exist simply to handle SMTP traffic. HTTP is not the internet. So why is the fact that they don't have a web-page relevant?

    This is a very stupid decision.

  27. Mike

    Not a lot of sympathy from me

    I don't know them, I'm sure that if I did I'd be more sympathetic, but they didn't develop the site, they didn't even set up email, let's face it any £5 hosting company can get you up and running within a couple of minutes (and there are hundreds of them), if the kid *really* wanted an email address then why didn't they set it up? if the kid was indifferent then why didn't they just give it over? sounds like a cybersquat to me, so they either let the kid down by not setting up the email, or they are trying to use him for emotional blackmail, either way they've lost the moral highground.

    If they thought that they were fighting a highly principled fight against the corporate bullies then either they are naive, stupid or had some bad advice, maybe due a bit more sympathy but not because they were right.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down bitch fight

    How long before John Smith sues another John Smith for the rights to or ?

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Who the heck has actually registered a .mobi domain and didn't Nominet give to Apple even though it was registered ages ago.

    I hope the kid and his parents wait a few weeks and then report worthy of removal because it's not mobile friendly!!!

    Aren't there a few months for people who own trademarks the chance to register their domain names before anyone else? Why didn't they register it then?

    I'm sure I'd seen something about the Easy group were trying to get domains with easy taken off the owners! I'm surprised Orange haven't sued Easy for making their mobile company look like cheap scouse $hite!

    Hopefully the estate will allow the kid to keep his/her email address, otherwise, I hope the kid leaves a nice brown present in his wardrobe for them :-D

  30. Steve


    I thought this aggressive stuff was down to companies losing copyright if they did not defend it. Isn't that why Doglas Adams shut down Hitch Hikers sites, not 'cos he did not like them, but 'cos he would have lost copyrights.


  31. James O'Brien

    I have the solution for all these problems.

    Make a .FAN top level domain. That way the fans can have a way to show they are fans and when the time comes they can easily be sued into submission by the companies.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @copyright (steve)


    Sorry for shouting but time after time this is misunderstood. Copyright is an automatic right to the author of some piece of work.

    Trademarks have to be registered and must be defended, or they CAN be lost.

  33. StopthePropaganda

    IP lawyers, RIAA, and their ilk...

    "They'll be the first against the wall when the Revolution comes!"

    Flame for the torches of the mobs, and the cleansing fire of the Corporate Leech and the suppression of humanity.

  34. Dangermouse

    Doglas Adams?

    Who or indeed what the fuck is Doglas Adams?


  35. sol

    English 101 for WIP's arbitration panel

    As per ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), three elements have to be proven: (i) your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and (ii) you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (iii) your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

    Please note that all three requirements need to be proven. The three requirements are connected by ands and not ors. Yet, the third requirement, that of bad faith, is barely ever proven. In most cases, it is simply presumed. The burden (wrongly) shifts on to the person holding the domain name to show that it has been registered and is being used in good faith (whatever that may mean). What is bad faith? Well, the UDRP policy provides some guidelines:

    4(b). Evidence of Registration and Use in Bad Faith. For the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(iii), the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

    (i) circumstances indicating that you have registered or you have acquired the domain name primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration to the complainant who is the owner of the trademark or service mark or to a competitor of that complainant, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to the domain name; or

    (ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

    (iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

    (iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant's mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.

    Sure the wording makes it clear it is non-exhaustive, but surely they are to be held as guiding lights? And, even more surely, they have to be proven by the party alleging bad faith? WIPO thinks not.

    The arbitration panel held:

    "The language of . . . the Policy is couched in the present tense and unambiguously requires a respondent to be 'making a legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the domain name.'. . . The Policy only concerns active websites that practice genuine, non-commercial criticism, and only deals with fan sites that are clearly active and non-commercial."

    This inverts the language of the UDRP, and shows their skewed reading of the policy's language. (I am being charitable by not saying "shows their inability to read English". "English, *&%$#^#@*(&. Do you speak it?" (without any xenophobic/classist overtones)) They are correct in noting that the Policy is in the present tense. Section 4(a) is worded such that your site has to currently be doing some wrong. Thus, to re-frame the panel's sentence accurately:

    "The Policy only concerns active websites that practice non-genuine, commercial misappropriation, and does not deal with fan sites that are inactive. (And in fact does not explicitly talk of fan sites at all.)"

    This would have reflected the language of the UDRP. Thus, this would mean that the estate of C.S. Lewis could only file a case against the Saville-Smiths when they contravened Section 4(a). If this (the correct test, I would argue) is applied, they wouldn't qualify until it can be proven that "domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith". That cannot be proven when a) they don't misrepresent themselves to be related to Narnia, aren't dealing in the same areas as the C.S. Lewis estate (spin-offs, official merchandise, etc.); and b) when the domain name has not "been registered in bad faith" and c) when the domain name is not "being used in bad faith". So, until the Saville-Smiths try to sell it, or it is otherwise shown that they don't mean what they say (when they claim that it is for their child's future use), it can't be claimed that the domain name is "being used in bad faith".

    And how, by what spandex-ian stretch of imagination, is the subsequent registration of "" suggestive of bad faith? I'd like to smoke what they're smoking.

    The WIPO arbitration panel is not bound by the principle (or policy) of stare decisis. They don't have to blindly follow precedents. They are, however, bound by the text of the UDRP. It is about time they realise that.

    The UDRP policy:

  36. Sarev
    Paris Hilton

    Legitimate interests

    "(ii) you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name"


    So if I'm called Bob Smith and I register then no amount of "(i) your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights" claims would help Disney because I have clear rights to part of the domain so I would have just as much reason to dispute the domain if _they_ took it?


  37. ShaggyDoggy


    Has WIPO ever decided in favour of the little-guy domain holder ?

  38. Hegelworm Messerchmitt

    A tourniquet on web jugular?

    One side of the coin shows a large estate wringing out the little man. To me, the other side of the coin shows the little man attempting to hold said estate to ransom by squatting. It's the coin, the financial interest, that's the problem.

    However, it's a popular and highly addictive trend. I remember searching domains for a good half hour when the first Narnia film came out to see if any were available. Why? Because, as a creative type and web developer, I just couldn't resist the thought of furnishing my own little place in cyberspace with *my* take on the series of children's books. In a word, expression.

    The web is carried by entrepreneurial creativity, buying, selling and promotion and it seems that WIPO, along with these law-mongerers are intent on cutting off everyone's nose by effectively restricting the growth of such trade.

    Wouldn't it be a bore if every namesaked, trademarked and associated domain name was owned by the original source? Goodbye fansites, goodbye indie merchandising outfits, goodbye critic, blog and spoof sites.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: WIPO

    I very much doubt it!! - C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd - C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd - C.S. LEWIS (PTE.) LIMITED

    but ... - registered to Narnia Ltd in 1999 (company number 03694275 according to Companies House) - Registered to Scott McWhirter in 2003 - Rich Cook (USA) in 1997 - fan site

    Who the heck would visit and if they've nicked this domain from the kid, why not and too?

    "Has WIPO ever decided in favour of the little-guy domain holder ?"

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward is available

    so is, etc.

    But, surely a fan would want something a little more esoteric, so just choose one of the madeup kingdom names. is for mobile coms, and with the movies still in production and a lot of people using the web from mobiles well it is fair that they own that domain.

    Though, of course they could give him a host or mail name in the domain, that would have created some nice press.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Media hacks, media stunt

    This is not some modest little family trying to give their wee boy a pressie.

    They operate as and are a mid size media consultancy. They are plainly in this to boost their media profile, and have created this stunt which has got them worldwide exposure. They are giving this what they call "big licks" -

    "We’ll take your campaign, event or report and work it up into something the national media in Scotland - or UK-wide media - will want to cover. We are very experienced in doing ‘issues’, so we will never lose sight of yours. Because we’re credible and known to the Scottish national media, we’re best placed to represent your story to them. We’ll never oversell a story (that’s why they like us), but we will discover your story’s best and strongest points and energetically inject them into the media – ideas, meticulous and conscientious preparation, well-written press materials, pictures, stunts and judicious use of celebrities, come as standard."

    I think it's just a shame they are involving a child in all this.

  42. David Barrett

    Nominet -

    Im pretty sure that the nominet/ ruling would have swung the other way had the registrant not been diverting traffic to napster...

    In this case its quite difficult, on one hand the company wont be loosing out because of this registration, but the family should have expected someting like this, as another poster commented you wouldnt register and expect to keep it.

    Also you cant expect companies to register all possible domain names...,, are all taken (Ok they are also shit.. but you get the idea)

    What the company should have done is said, "Right lets save some time and money, give us the domain and we will set up an email for you."

    It wouldnt be hard for them, they could even have charged them monthly for it... Lets face it, thats the only way that they will make money out of a .mobi URL!

    Oh and for anyone interested it looks like the following are currently free to register:

    Also interesting is that doesnt appear to belong to the CS Lewis company...

    Anyway, im off to open "The narnia school" Domain (Not yet registered)

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Didn't McDonalds do the same thing?

    Wasn't there a family-run hardware store somewhere in England got hammered because they dared to use "" or something similar for their website, and the giant multinational claimed the family were trading off Ronald's "good name"...

    As if anyone with even a single functioning brain cell would confuse half-a-pound of lost-head nails and a garden gate latch with a cheeseburger and "french" greasy saltsticks^H^H^H fries.

    (Did you hear McD's in Moscow recently sold it's ten millionth burger? They are due to start cooking their sixth lb of beef next week...)

  44. ShaggyDoggy
    Paris Hilton

    Ahh I see now

    If you want one of these names, first you create a Ltd Company.

    Then you get the domain name.

    WIPO then HAS to find in your favour since there is a commercial entity behind it, same as McDonalds etc.

    Wait ... sorry I assumed what works for big guys works for small guys, silly me

    Paris, because she knows what works for big guys

  45. Gordon Pryra


    "Wait ... sorry I assumed what works for big guys works for small guys, silly me"

    I wish that were so, but the "big guys" have a different set of rules to play by, and the various "watch dogs", "governments" etc treat them differently.

    The law does not seem to matter in a lot of cases.

    Its how much cash you have

    (and thats more than just affording a better laywer)

  46. Paul Blonde

    The panel broke its own rules

    The panel's ruling says that the use of the domain by the couple "suggests" opportunistic bad faith, whereas the WIPO policy states that it will only transfer a domain if it IS being used in bad faith or HAS BEEN used in bad faith.

    Suggesting opportunistic bad faith is not the same as engaging in bad faith, therefore the WIPO panel ruling should be cast down and a black mark recorded against the panel members in their employment records.

  47. David Glasgow

    WIPO gobshites Register protest shock

    Does anyone know of a way to protest to the WIPO that they are a band of gobshites?

    Apart from registering it here on the Register, which I am sure the WIPO board will read carefully YOU GOBSHITES.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they registered other trademarks as well

    When you read the WIPO decision, you find that Saville-Smith also registered,, and All are pointing to websites with pay-per-click advertising. Were those registered for other members of his family who he wanted to provide with an email address?

    He has also registered about 30 other domains to his name and about 60 domains to his email address.

  49. Whitter
    Thumb Up

    Freedom fighters? Grow up.

    Didn't anyone keep up with this story at all?

    "...The Respondent, together with his wife, runs the Saville-Ferguson media and PR agency. The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <> on September 29, 2006, shortly after the dotMobi sunrise period for trademark owners had closed. The disputed domain name resolves to a parked web page provided by Sedo, containing “sponsored links” to commercial websites, including links to websites offering for sale merchandize and apparel related to “The Chronicles of Narnia” books and movies.

    Between September 28 and 30, 2006, the Respondent also registered the following domain names: <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, <> and <>..."

    DNS trolls, no more, no less.

  50. Will Lord

    You snooze you (should) lose...

    What annoyed me about this whole story was the obnoxious behaviour of the Lewis estate throughout. They could have saved themselves a lot of bad press and embarrassment by just offering a reasonable fee for the domain. I'm pretty sure it would have been handed over.

    As a business it's really the Lewis estate's responsibility to keep on top of these things. There was a sunrise period for the .mobi domain which gave ample time for trademark owners to register before it was released to the general public. That's their mistake and I don't think it's unreasonable for them to have to pay for it.

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