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Old 16th March 2014
Roydd85 Roydd85 is offline
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Default Richard Stallman, What is your opinion?

I understand that companies like Microsoft have all these back doors and don't respect the end users at all. I am also aware that things like regulation of the internet is almost always bad for the average person, organization, or small business and usually only benefits the Microsofts of the world and the politicians that they lobby. Is Richard Stallaman just crazy? I think he takes it too far and comes off as paranoid and a border line conspiracy theorist (nothing wrong with that) Do you guys agree? Do you think Stallman is right? Is Ubuntu even abusing their users as he says? Have we crossed that slippery slope?
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Old 16th March 2014
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I understand that companies like Microsoft have all these back doors and don't respect the end users at all. I am also aware that things like regulation of the internet is almost always bad for the average person, organization, or small business and usually only benefits the Microsofts of the world and the politicians that they lobby. Is Richard Stallaman just crazy? I think he takes it too far and comes off as paranoid and a border line conspiracy theorist (nothing wrong with that) Do you guys agree? Do you think Stallman is right? Is Ubuntu even abusing their users as he says? Have we crossed that slippery slope?
I don't think he's crazy.

Are his ideas extreme? I dunno. Depends on which idea. The idea I'm most interested in is whether it's unethical to distribute software under terms other than those encompassed by his definition of free software (i.e. the four freedoms). So far I'm more or less in agreement that it's not ethical, but I differ as to the degree. To me it seems a very small moral transgression to distribute non-free software in exchange for money when the users involved seem not to care one way or the other. I won't disagree that software distributed that way is "an instrument of unjust power" but I have trouble seeing the severity of it the way he or Bradley Kuhn might, at least so far. So I'm not turning down jobs because they involve writing proprietary software, but all else being equal I'd rather take a job where the s/w gets sent out with some free license, and I donate money to the FSF.

I've only seen a few minor quips about Canonical from FSF people, and I don't pay much attention to Ubuntu. Do you have a link to where rms takes them to task for something?

Interesting choice of forums to discuss Richard Stallman. Honestly, when BSD people talk about him or license terms I tend to get alienated, but not enough to use a different O/S.
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Old 16th March 2014
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I've only seen a few minor quips about Canonical from FSF people, and I don't pay much attention to Ubuntu. Do you have a link to where rms takes them to task for something?
I think he's referring to the entangled Amazon searching in Ubuntu.

To make one and only one comment about rms here: I am in complete agreement that software needs to be free. Software has an amazing ability to subjugate people, denying them power and agency, and that needs to be addressed. But I vehementy disagree with his tactics in some cases. No, I am not going to share details. That's all you're gonna get out of me about it.
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Old 17th March 2014
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In my view ...

Richard Stallman is highly intelligent and I respect his knowledge and find his opinions interesting to compare with others. That doesn't mean that I agree with him about everything (I don't). Like all of us, his opinions are shaped not only by reason, but also by personal circumstances, values and deeply held beliefs.

Stallman is very good with the one-dimensional sound bite, e.g., "Cloud computing is worse than stupidity!" (the general thrust of which I happen to agree with). We often seem to live in a world of sound bites, so maybe this is a necessary tactic of his. But if you read some of his longer discussions (on some topic of interest) they're much more balanced, thoughtful and reasoned than the sound bites. Again, not to say that all conclusions he reaches are "right" because there's lots more than raw logic going into them.

His vision of "software freedom", the GPL, I'm not particularly taken with, despite its relative benefits. Then again, I'm not a lawyer and don't much like licenses, copyrights, and legal stuff in general. It almost seems like he's argued himself into a corner when you look at the FSF approved Linux distributions. But maybe that's a case of theory vs. practice.

Is Stallman too paranoid? I don't know, but even if he is, I don't think that's a real problem. The problem is the large number of people who aren't paranoid enough, and have thereby made Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple (etc.) into what they are today. If Stallman can give a counterpoint to that, it's to the good, but I don't know that it will change much. Security in a networked world is incredibly complex, no-one is born with any knowledge of it, most people have other priorities/interests and want easy convenience. The world is how it is. Wasn't there a famous Pogo comic about "I have seen the enemy, and it is us" ?
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Old 19th March 2014
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Is Stallman too paranoid?
I don't know. Given the recent evidence that has come to light from Snowden regarding the NSA I think it is healthy to be wary when you are computing these days. I'm pretty sure the NSA and the Google overlords are tracking us in some form. Orwell nailed it in 1984; Big Brother is watching. We are happily living with a thin veneer of democracy these days.
I do my best to practice safe computing and I run a highly secure OS (OpenBSD) that has a software and a hardware firewall.
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Old 20th March 2014
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Default Stallman

In some ways, he's fighting the good fight. Without him, we'd all be thoroughly hosed. Think about it - all software would by now have been copyrighted or patented by megaliths. He's provided a large scale hedge against that sort of end game, and has been doing so since the 80s. On the other hand, it's pretty hard to make money on service subscriptions. Just ask the Sear's rep about his hardware service and insurance agreement quotas. So, I guess it's like Stallman could be saying to us, "don't make your money in software" - software is like a community road that we all build only to get to our offices, factories, shops, and eateries - those places where we *really* make our living.

That's where I find myself in some disagreement. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I favor a situation where my proprietary software company does not have unfair market advantage (i.e., it's small or medium sized) - and there is enough competition to keep my dealings with customers fair and respectable. But - that's not the real world. In the real world, the megaliths have taken over, and the legal systems absolutely bend to their sway in order to tip the field against all but a few.

If governments would cease with the unfair patronization of the few (software patents, in particular) - then Stallman would have less need to be what some call "extreme". He's highly polarized because "they" are - and he sees his stance as the only thing that brings about equilibrium. Sad, to say the least, but it' the reflection of humankind that makes it necessary.

Oh - I should add the thing I *really* was going to say. Our attempts to make the software secure are all well and good, but in some ways moot and futile: it's the network that's compromised.
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Old 21st March 2014
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Quote:
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Orwell nailed it in 1984; Big Brother is watching.
Also Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his masterpiece work In the First Circle
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Old 17th March 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roydd85 View Post
I understand that companies like Microsoft have all these back doors and don't respect the end users at all. I am also aware that things like regulation of the internet is almost always bad for the average person, organization, or small business and usually only benefits the Microsofts of the world and the politicians that they lobby.
I never understood the need of Linux teens to refer to a particular "Evil Company".
Each epoch has its own bogeyman. The bogeyman of my youth was IBM. Microsoft is a bogeyman of the 90s. If I was young man now I would think that main bogeymen are called Google and Facebook.

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Old 21st March 2014
J65nko J65nko is offline
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The French philosopher Michel Foucault analyzed how brute force as a method to impose control has been abandoned by the more "human" method of surveillance.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon :

Quote:
Most influentially, the idea of the panopticon was invoked by Michel Foucault, in his Discipline and Punish (1975), as a metaphor for modern "disciplinary" societies and their pervasive inclination to observe and normalise. "On the whole, therefore, one can speak of the formation of a disciplinary society in this movement that stretches from the enclosed disciplines, a sort of social 'quarantine', to an indefinitely generalizable mechanism of 'panopticism'".[42] The Panopticon is an ideal architectural figure of modern disciplinary power.

The Panopticon creates a consciousness of permanent visibility as a form of power, where no bars, chains, and heavy locks are necessary for domination any more.[43]

Foucault proposes that not only prisons but all hierarchical structures like the army, schools, hospitals and factories have evolved through history to resemble Bentham's Panopticon.
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Old 21st March 2014
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Re: Pre-GNU free software:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Windo...m#Introduction
Quote:
Anyone who wants the code can come by with a tape.
It seems to me that this describes much of the "free software community" before GNU, especially at MIT (but also at other places). It's not a coincidence that Stallman came from the MIT/LISP community.
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Old 22nd March 2014
J65nko J65nko is offline
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Re: Open source before the 1980's

In the late seventies a group of programmers led by Bill Ragsdale created a public domain version of the Forth computer language, called FIG-Forth. (Fig = Forth Interest Group). They published assembly language listings for the 6502. 6800, 68000, 8080 and Z-80 processors and documentaton that you could copy freely, as long as the copies stated that it was placed in the public domain by courtesy of the Forth Interest Group.

Because soon many different dialects of the FIG-Forth implementation emerged, there was a serious need to to standardize the language. The first standard was Forth-79 published in 1979, followed by the heavily criticized Forth-83 standard of 1983. The first ANSI standard for Forth was published in 1994.

In 1982 or 1983, I modified the existing 6502 and Apple II Fig-Forth implementation and also published it as public domain software for the Dutch Chapter of the Forth Interest Group.

The magazine Dr. Dobbs Journal also published a lot of free or open source software. Their first three issues in 1975 published a tiny-Basic interpreter. Steve Wozniak published the source code for a 16 bit emulator for the 6502 called "Sweet 16" in this magazine

All this was 10 years before that magazine published the GNU manifesto in 1985. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Dobb%27s_Journal
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Old 28th April 2014
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I suppose I agree with about half of what he says.

I do feel that he often misses the wood for the trees however. I would say that there are bigger threats to GNU/Linux than non copyleft licensing, blobs and distributions with non-free software repositories.

I seem to remember that gnu.org has a whole page on why it should be called "GNU/Linux" instead of "Linux". I understand why but, as with much of the "politics" on that site, the whole approach/wording is not going to win many serious supporters - because it comes across as an indoctrination sermon written by someone who is a zealot and idealist. Teenage fanbois might read that and take note - maybe even spread the word - most grown adults will not.

In my opinion only, the trend away from UNIX KISS principles and towards appeasing windows people is extremely worrying and there are only a handful of GNU/Linux distros with the balls to avoid most of the latest brainfarts - plenty of which are GPL - Slackware being one of the most obvious.
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Old 29th April 2014
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In my opinion only, the trend away from UNIX KISS principles and towards appeasing windows people is extremely worrying
I agree and I believe projects like Gnome 3 to be particularly worrying because they are becoming very inflexible, much too large to fork and sucking up an extremely large amount of developer time by simply changing (to be like a trendy tablet interface) rather than progressing.

I guess this does not have much to do with Stallman though and more to do with the OSS community.
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Old 21st May 2014
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I'm sure that Gnome 3 adds to the bloat of Gnome 2. Surprising to me, and opposed to the many who've put the thumb-down sign onto version 3, I sorta like the way it handles (but definitely do not like the bloat behind it). It's nearly impossible to feel confident about huge software projects. Such developments leave too many places that the majority of the developer's eyeballs never reach.

One thing I'll say about Stallman. He has good comics on his site. Does he draw those?
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Old 21st May 2014
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Stallman is a pompous, arrogant clown.

Freedom? Who's suing whom? I get that the software license is written in such a manner that it infects other code bases that it is integrated with (unless you hire a lawyer or "compliance officer" to keep you out of court with RMS and henchmen), and I'll agree that any group using the software outside of the licensing requirements is completely #$%-ing mad...but blaming victims of predatory loans for entering into an unfair agreement isn't complete without looking at the company putting forth the predatory loan in the first place.

Lawsuits are not about freedom.
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Old 22nd May 2014
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Originally Posted by rocket357 View Post
Stallman is a pompous, arrogant clown.

Freedom? Who's suing whom? I get that the software license is written in such a manner that it infects other code bases that it is integrated with (unless you hire a lawyer or "compliance officer" to keep you out of court with RMS and henchmen), and I'll agree that any group using the software outside of the licensing requirements is completely #$%-ing mad...but blaming victims of predatory loans for entering into an unfair agreement isn't complete without looking at the company putting forth the predatory loan in the first place.

Lawsuits are not about freedom.
The "viral" effect, if that's what you want to call it, existed to some extent with version two of the GPL. I really don't think that GPL v3 is much different than v2, outside of the embedding of blobs. If I remember correctly, the idea that the GPL v3 license precluded the use of the GNU compiler for proprietary code (i.e by forcing generated code to be GPL) was disclaimed by FSF people, and I think it was mostly FUD. I can't remember the link to the disclaimer right now, so I could be wrong. In any case, I'm not a lawyer - so don't take my opinions seriously. :-) I think the switch to GPL v3 was seized upon as a politically convenient and timely point at which to abandon the GPL in general - not really because of GPL v3 specifically, but because of the GPL in general, and all its versions. I'm not a lawyer, so don't give my opinion any cred :-)

I do agree that the idea that one should be seeking legal counsel in order to apply a license is outlandish and unworkable for hobbyist programmers. The GPL has always invoked those general feelings for me - those feelings of uneasiness over how I should interpret the license. It's sooooo much easier to pick the BSD license after you compare it to the verboseness of the GPL.

I never thought the LGPL was very workable. Clients never have the right stuff, and they don't know how to get it, even with help. I think many large app producers who go that route really do not abide by the license, but they just say that they do. Stallman knows this, and it aggravates him. Admittedly, driver producers can benefit from the LGPL, as they can make calls into the kernel and (for the userland counterparts) - the C library, and those things don't change as often. Maybe that's an area where the GPL v3 was seen to be rubbing the wrong way. I suppose I'd have to consult a lawyer to know for sure.

What it amounts to is that if you're going to use GPL'ed code in some way inside or connected to your own code, then release all of your own code in harmony with the GPL. This makes it a lot easier to deal with, even if there are "loopholes" you could otherwise use, and your conscience will be clear. If you use BSD or MIT code, and use BSD or MIT licenses, then you can keep (all or part of) your code secret, or release all of it. So, we really are talking about two separate camps. Pick a camp. That's what FreeBSD and Apple have done. Separate camps aside, IMO there is much FUD going about town, around compiler issues and other things. That FUD turns this whole thing into a religious war. Really, I think the two camps can get along. No reason for war.

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Old 22nd May 2014
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On a related note, we should consider the attack against the idea of the API as being outside of the scope of copyright. Google just lost against Oracle on that basis. If APIs are now suddenly, in spite of thirty year old precedents, copyrightable, then the GPL automatically degenerates to the LGPL by the opinion I've seen expressed in an article I've recently read. Not that it matters. Again, I'm not a lawyer, so disregard all.

I'm surprised there hasn't been more trade press about the API brouhaha. It's very serious stuff, very negative for all of us, no matter the camp we're in...

Edit: Attempts to relocate the "GPL automatically degenerates to the LGPL" article failed, and so the statement is hereby retracted. It was just my imagination, apparently.


Relative to my previous post regarding GPLv3/v2:

The kernel exception in the Linux kernel lets us use the kernel more liberally than if the exception wasn't there. But, the idea of applying exceptions to a context otherwise ruled by GPL licensing is probably more complicated than it seems, and IMO brings more FUD into the picture. It's Just easier to pick a license that fits the purpose, use it harmoniously, and forget the loopholes. I suppose that's what Apple and FreeBSD have done with the complete ejection of GNU. No more loopholes. Each to their own.

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Old 22nd May 2014
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If you're interested in that case, Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler discussed it on their recent podcast episode here: http://faif.us/cast/2014/may/13/0x44/

This being a complicated case (and if you'll excuse me saying so your post showing great confusion or indication of being influenced by severe misinformation, e.g. the copyrightable arguments by Alsop were largely rejected but fair use considerations are remanded back to the lower court, so "loss" hasn't happened yet), if you have the time I'd recommend also listening to their earlier podcast 0x35 and especially reading over Judge Alsop's decision followed by the recent circuit court decision. The pdfs of those two decisions are linked from episode 0x44. Bradley Kuhn also has a blog entry on the recent decision and there is discussion with him and others linked from there on identa.ca: http://www.ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2014/0...le-google.html

From what I hear most technical press coverage of the recent decision has been complete crap. I'd not read any more of that and try to forget what you've already read.
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Old 23rd May 2014
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If you're interested in that case, Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler discussed it on their recent podcast episode here: http://faif.us/cast/2014/may/13/0x44/

This being a complicated case (and if you'll excuse me saying so your post showing great confusion or indication of being influenced by severe misinformation, e.g. the copyrightable arguments by Alsop were largely rejected but fair use considerations are remanded back to the lower court, so "loss" hasn't happened yet), if you have the time I'd recommend also listening to their earlier podcast 0x35 and especially reading over Judge Alsop's decision followed by the recent circuit court decision. The pdfs of those two decisions are linked from episode 0x44. Bradley Kuhn also has a blog entry on the recent decision and there is discussion with him and others linked from there on identa.ca: http://www.ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2014/0...le-google.html

From what I hear most technical press coverage of the recent decision has been complete crap. I'd not read any more of that and try to forget what you've already read.
Thanks for the links. I'll check them out.


Edit: Now I'm back from the reading of the text associated with your links.

In it I see that the "loss" refers only to Google's loss of the original, favorable district court decision, because of Oracle's appeal. That's what I meant in my post (bad wording), as I did absorb that info from the news about the case. Now the case gets kicked back to the courtroom for a determination of whether or not, in the specific referenced case, the alleged infringing copy could be claimed a "fair use" copying of the code, and by direct association - (only in some people's opinions) - a green light for the use of API declarations as "fair use".

That favorable result has yet to be had. It would not be a green light, and barely a yellow one. If the new courtroom result is that the allegedly infringing usage was not "fair use" - then there is a precident for APIs being generally copyrightable, with fair use disallowed in particular cases. Subsequently, all allegedly infringing code would rely on courtroom actions, decided on a case by case basis. That is the problem with the utilization of the "fair use" defense. "Fair use" is vague to the point where it almost always has to be hashed out in a courtroom. Thus, it does not protect the general immunity (relative to copyright) of APIs. It does make more money for the legal profession, because nearly every case has to go to trial. Talk about FUD!

If one considers that "fair use" is often limited to a small number of lines, depending upon the form of expression, that does not bode well for Google. There are some 7,000 lines of declarative code (the API) and fair use has in some cases been limited to a hundred. It depends upon the percentage - so with such a large API the courtroom result could allow for a larger number of lines of code protected under fair use. Sometimes, the result in such cases has been a substantial percentage - say ten percent or so. Unfortunately, due to all the vagueness associated with the doctrine, that figure goes all over the house. Relying on fair use to protect our ability to re-implement APIs will be nothing short of a nightmare. The only way it isn't a nightmare is if "fair use" for purposes of software interoperability is precisely defined (and that is light years away from current applications of the "fair use" doctrine in courtrooms).

The ideas expressed on the sites you linked, about the court and specifically the jury not understanding the idea of "APIs" well enough to separate them from straight forward copying of code in an ordinary sense, does not help necessarily. Even if that is an error, will any subsequent actions see it as one? A precedent can be sited, error or not, and subsequent juries (and courts) could compound the issue with the same errors and lack of understanding.

The whole thing's a complete nightmare.

Again - I'm not a lawyer, so disregard everything I write.

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Old 23rd May 2014
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Quote:
...First, Oracle argues that the district court erred in concluding that each line of declaring source code is completely unprotected under the merger and short phrases doctrines. Google responds that Oracle waived...
Quote:
...the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked.” Copyrightability Decision, 872 F. Supp. 2d at 976. Because “alternative expressions [we]re available,” there is no merger. See Atari, 975 F.2d at 840 ...
Quote:
... But, as the court acknowl- edged, nothing prevented Google from writing its own declaring code, along with its own implementing code, to achieve the same result. In such circumstances, the chosen expression simply does not merge with the idea being expressed...
These are quotes from the ruling (United States court of appeals for the federal circuit (case 2013-1021, -1022)).

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/...5-7-2014.1.PDF

In the first quote, Oracle seems to be saying that the merger doctrine (the basis for what programmers usually think of as "API freedom" - something needed for interoperability, and not subject to copyright) does not necessarily exempt the names of elements in API declarations, and/or the declarative line as a whole, from copyright. Statements in the court's opinion refine this to the names of methods and classes. If this holds, then there is no longer any API freedom in the manner that programmers have accepted it for thirty years.

The second quote expresses this idea (that really kills the effective sharing of APIs) - put in the words of the appellate court that sent the case back to trial for "fair use". It means the court interprets the idea of what the API does as exempt from copyright, but not the names of the specific methods and classes. Without the ability to use the specific names and classes of the API, there is no interoperability. To that - the court says that interoperability (a doctrine that exempts some copyright) is a fair use issue. Nightmare! What constitutes "fair use" is vague and almost always requires court time to decipher. A good law or doctrine minimizes the amount of time citizens have to spend in courtrooms.

Could "fair use" then be more than exemption based upon a "small amount" that was copied and needed to have effective "public discourse" - and now extend to ideas such as "interoperability" of software? Perhaps, but in that case would usage be hamstrung by some vague limit as to how much you could create interoperability with? Like the fair use of news articles?

This issue is huge. Oh yeah. I'm not a lawyer. Disregard my opinion.

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