Just when you thought people couldn’t get any more clueless about copyright law…

…along comes someone billing him or herself as “Lady Sybilla,” who has announced the publication of (we’ll extend benefit of the doubt) her own sequel to “Twilight” entitled “Russet Noon.”

It staggers the imagination that Lady Sybilla might actually be a worse writer than Stephenie Meyer.  The title, however –which evokes images of a sun-baked potato–would seem to suggest that is so, as does Sybilla’s tendency to respond to controversy by using mangled cliches ( “bad publicity is better than no publicity;”  “controversy is the mother of popularity.” ) Then again, if her endeavor, which purports to tell the saga from the point of view of  the character of Jacob, displays a fraction of the fantasy put forward by her doubtless-soon-to-be-sued publisher, it could be pretty formidable.  Her publisher, the aptly named AV Paranormal, declared:

“When fictional characters become such an intricate part of the popular psyche, as is the case with the Twilight Saga, legal boundaries become blurred, and copyright laws become increasingly difficult to define. This is especially the case when actual cities like Forks and Volterra are used as the novel’s settings. Such settings are not copyrightable, as they are considered public domain. Similarly, the Quileute Nation is also not copyrightable, and neither are vampire or werewolf legends. Copyright laws protect writers from unauthorized reproductions of their work, but such reproductions only include verbatim copying. Characters are only copyrightable if their creator draws them or hires an artist to draw them. Stephenie Meyer herself borrowed a great deal from previous works dealing with these mythologies.”

While this point of view might be applauded by the “everything should be free to everyone on the internet” crowd, the wrongheadedness of these sentiments is staggering.  Vampires, werewolves, and the names of towns and Indian nations are public domain.  Specific characters are protected by copyright.  There is no blurred boundary here, no difficulty in defining it.  This is theft, pure and simple.    It should not be countenanced, and I have to hope a cease and desist letter is already en route if it hasn’t been delivered already.

You can read more here.


Written by in: Potato Moon |


  • Blake says:

    Absolutely astounding. It’s almost tragic that people think this is kosher, enough people to create and staff a publishing company. I have every good faith that this gets completely obliterated and Lady Sybilla goes quietly into the night. I’m all for fanfic, but no one has any right to make money off these characters except Meyer and the entities she given or sold the rights to. If this doesn’t get quashed immediately, I fear for the future of intellectual property, especially since the publishing world has been going after younger “authors” recently (that eight-year old that wrote a dating advice book? Seriously?). Man, I hope we don’t end up in a literary wasteland with a hundred different fanboys with their own ideas about the X-Men on comic shelves…

    • Brian Woods says:

      There is no such thing as intellectual property as something in the imagination cannot be owned physically.

      Other than that, I see this playing out where they get a cease and desist letter, then they announce they are altering the character names to make it all cool, then it becomes a book like in a recent My Name Is Earl where he read a book about Tanzan the Ape Man, as the Camden Library couldn’t afford the *real* books.

      • mike weber says:

        You sound rather like the S_D types who thought that buying a comic book gave them the right to reproduce and distribute the contents.

        Intellectual property is the only thing that is copyrightable.

        A book or a painting or a teevee episodes is just the distribution method; the copyright protects the contents – which are ideas and representations thereof.

      • Brian Woods says:

        I don’t know what S_D types are, but if you wrote something, that’s copywritten. If you make something, that’s patented. They are both things that have been created. The registering of those works makes them property, period. When my brother thought of making heated toilet seats all those years ago, that was just an idea, NOT intellectual property. You shouldn’t be able to patent or copyright an idea. The concept of patenting ideas and the term “intellectual property” were made up by lawyers so they can make money suing people.

      • Tommy Raiko says:

        Wihtout getting bogged down in the term “intellectual property” and whether or not it’s a useful phrase, I do suspect the two of you agree more than you disagree about what is and is not (and should and should not be) copyrightable and protectable.

        Just to be pedantic, though, I’ll just reiterate that intellectual property law explicitly does NOT protect ideas. Rather, they protect a specific, fixed expression of those ideas.

        You can not copyright the idea of a story about a boy who learns to become a wizard, but you can copyright a specific sequence of words (or images, since we’re all comics fans ’round here…) that tell a specific story formed on that idea.

        You cannot patent the idea of a heated toilet seat, but you can patent a specific designed process for a machine that would heat a toilet seat.

        Underlying all the law and lawyer behind copyright and patent protection, it’s worth remembering that, ultimately and ideally, the thing being protected is NOT an idea (ideas are free and easy and anyone can have them, and often do) but rather a certain expression of that idea.

  • Joe Nazzaro says:

    I suspect that the folks at AV Paranormal are about to discover that that the lines of copyright are nowhere near as blurred as they have deluded themselves into thinking and will shortly be paying out a rather significan sum of money in damages based on the fact that they appear to have been soliciting pre-orders for the book. Otherwise, the next project we’ll be hearing about is the Harry Potter ‘tribute’ sequel, Harry Potter and the Depositions of Doom.

    • Peter David says:

      I thought we had that one already with the “encyclopedia” kerfluffle.


    • Jen Salverson says:

      AV Paranormal is a vanity press that is owned by the ‘author’ in question. Whois links right back to her and the domain for AV Paranormal is in her name and registered to her home address.

  • Joe Nazzaro says:

    And before somebody says anything, yes, I know Harry Potter and Twilight are unrelated properties.

  • John says:

    It seems like this “book” is little more than fan fiction trying to attain a measure of respectability, and thumbing its nose at the law while doing it.

    I can’t find any reference to the publisher before this controversy. They don’t appear to have a website.

    Has anyone checked to see if this “company” hasn’t been created out of thin air by this “Lady Sybilla” ?

  • John says:

    A search on the domain registrars for gives this information :

    Glorianna Arias studying at
    California State University
    Address is xxxxx 35th St W,
    Lancaster, CA 93536
    Tel: +1.661951xxxx
    Fax: +1.661951xxxx

    (No need to spam the poor woman)

    The same Glorianna is the contact for a website (distinctly not a publishing website)

    But is it the case that the author, the Lady Sybilla, is the same person?

    Well, this youtube link seems to indicate so. It’s linked from the main page at

    And the youtube poster is called, yes, you guessed it, Lady Sybilla.

    So to sum up:

    A fan is self-publishing her fan-fiction.

  • George Haberberger says:

    For her next book, Lady Sybilla should write, “The Further Adventures of Edith Keeler.”
    That would be a bit of a reality adjustment.

  • Tommy Raiko says:

    Reminds me of a few years back where a woman wrote her own Star Wars novel, sold it via, and yet seemed to think she was doing a non-commercial project. A report about that case at described the unauthorized Star Wars novel as “blasted out of existence like the Death Star paying a visit to Alderaan” once Lucasfilms learned of it.

    I wonder what the appropriate vampiric analogy should be when Stephenie Meyer’s lawyers contact Ms. Sybilla…?

    • Allyn says:

      With POD becoming easier through Amazon and publishers like Lulu, chances are we’ll see more of this, as there aren’t any barriers to entry anymore.

      While I missed out on getting Lori Jareo’s Another Hope, I have gotten my hands on unauthorized Star Trek and Middle-Earth novels. I bought Austin P. Torney’s The Death Wave (an unauthorized Star Trek novel that’s the Trek equivalent of “The Eye of Argon,” it’s that bad) from Amazon last spring. There are some unauthorized, self-published Doctor Who novels out there, too.

      • Alex A Sanchez says:

        Allyn, how did you get an avatar? Do you need a WordPress account or something? I want one =)

      • Allyn says:

        Alex, you can get a WordPress avatar at And it will work across pretty much any WordPress-based blog, so long as the theme is set to display avatars. So you can post comments at, say, Comic Book Resources, and the same avatar will display. :)

  • --Brad says:

    This woman is inviting controversy. All she would need to do to market this is change the characters’ names and sell it as an homage or parody. See “Tigerheart”.

    • Corey Tacker says:

      Peter Pan is in public domain. Twilight is not. I’m pretty sure just changing the names wouldn’t cut it.

      • Jasmine Loucks says:

        I’m pretty sure that while Peter Pan is in the public domain, Lord of the Rings is not (in fact, I’m certain). And while he does a bit more than change some names, PAD writes a very obvious parody of such as the first chapter of Woad to Wuin.

    • David says:

      But that scene in Woad to Wuin was a parody. Parodying a book is fine; taking the characters and publishing it as a sequel for profit is not.

      • Darryl says:

        Well, to some extent that is true. In copyright determining whether a parody work is fair use requires using the 4 factor test again. (See Wikipedia article on Fair Use for an overview). PAD’s work almost certainly falls within the “fair use” side of the line even though it is commercial, while from reading the “press release”, it looks like the other work is likely infringement. Something can be a parody and still be infringement. Take PAD’s work a few years back that replaced the speech from an old Marvel romance comic with new speech. If PAD did this on his own and not through Marvel and released it would almost certainly be infringement, even though it was a parody.

        You really can’t figure out for sure whether something is infringement for the borderline cases until you have a ruling from a federal judge. In any case, this sounds like an overeager fan fiction writer who doesn’t understand the law and who will probably get a cease and desist letter very soon (and if the author gets a lawyer, they will advice him/her to take it down).

  • Queen Anthai says:

    And honestly, if you’re going to rip something off, rip something of QUALITY off instead of @#$%ing Twilight.

  • Sheila says:

    And this HAD to be the time that I gave up Fandom Wank for Lent!

    I checked Google. Most of the hits are the promotional efforts by this “Lady Sybilla” including casting calls for some kind of filmed version.

    Clearly this is somebody who has spent a little too much time in the echo chamber of fanficdom and has talked herself into thinking that this was a really good idea.

    Perhaps Lori Jareo could give her a few pointers.

  • Alex A Sanchez says:

    Don’t go too hard on the girl. And I say “girl” specifically because she is probably a 19 or 20 year old student at
    I won’t criticize the school, but for those that are familiar with it, it’s a far cry from Brown or Harvard.
    I’m actually going to applaud her ambition- it seems she’s put a lot of work into this. She obviously doesn’t know better and the authorities will quickly put her in her place.

    But Clichés aside, she’s right: bad press is better than no press. The more people rag on her at places like this, the further her name gets out there. I for one am going to at least look at a copy of any legit title I see her name on out of sheer curiosity.

  • Alan Coil says:

    “Characters are only copyrightable if their creator draws them or hires an artist to draw them.”

    This would mean all characters created in all novel are not copyrightable. It therefore leads to all creations being public domain at all times. Which would lead to all writers being unable to earn enough money to pay their bills.

  • Michael Mastakin says:

    I feel inspired to create a series of books with my character MacKenzie Calhoun. He will be in space (it’s not under copyright anyonne can go to space.)and maybe have a spaceship and fight aliens.

    I hope this woman is given a very sharp wake up call very soon.


    • Yotsuyasan says:

      Ah, but PAD’s Calhoun has been drawn in comics and cover art for the novels. Therefore he’s copywrightable. Sorry.


  • Matt Adler says:

    I haven’t read any of the Twilight books, although I just googled and apparently Stephen King shares your opinion of the author. Am I misremembering though, or didn’t you say Ariel was a fan? Ah well, adult men probably aren’t the target audience.

  • Michael says:

    I want to believe this is some kind of early April Fool’s joke. I really do.

  • If “this woman” is older than twenty, I will be dead shocked. she’s certainly not old enough to have taken any courses on Copyright Law.

    I do agree this is no more than fanfic with delusions of adequacy.

    It’s flannel-headedness like this that might make companies re-think their tacit arrangement with fan in re fanfic and websites.

    Ironically, given the current ravenous desire for romantic vampire fiction (quality obviously notwithstanding), she could probably make a few dollars whether she chose to co-opt these characters or not.

    I really must do some developing my concept of using the undead as political metaphor.

  • MarvelFan says:

    Well, as Michael above said, this could be some kind of early “April Fool’s” joke, but to me it looks like it might be a case of the “Betty Sue” syndrome, where a ‘writer’ writes a story about a copyrighted subject (like “Star Trek” ^_^), where a character very similar to the writer is the key character in the story.

    Now if this person had left this story in the realm where it belongs, net-based “Fan Fiction”, there probably wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

    But to claim that she can use another person’s copyrighted characters without penalty is just plain stupid, and she should get her fangs sued off.

    Got to admit, though, I haven’t read any of the “Twilight” series (come on, ‘Sparkly Vampires’?! Dang Kids! Get out of my genre!!! ^_^).

  • AVParanormal…with the three first letters capitalized, seems to me she is trying to get hits by unsuspecting googlers and youtubers looking for Alien vs Predator material (usually shortened as AVP).

    Ugh… she also mantains a “gothic” fansite for CandyCandy, some very un-gothic 70s anime I had to suffer every Sunday back when there was only one tv channel in my country. That would be crime enough, but seems she uploaded 8 divided episodes to youtube (with argentinian translation, no less, tho she seems to be of centroamerican origin). And they’ve been there for two years. Seems copyright infringement run deep in her blood.

    • Rick Rottman says:

      No, the “AV” stands for “Antelope Valley”. It’s an area north-east of Los Angeles up in the high desert. In fact, it’s even located in Los Angeles County.

      Groups and companies in the area like to slap “AV” in front of their names, almost as though it’s something to be proud of.

  • I think the syndrome is known as “Mary Sue”, not Betty. But yes, smells like it.

    I think I have most of the books at home, my flatmate loves them, as well as any other “paranormal romance”. My favorite concept is that of the Viking warrior traveling in time to join the Navy SEALS (and most probably, fall in love with a girl the reader can empathize with).

  • Tom Galloway says:

    She’s just using the wrong approach.

    As I recall, a few years back someone rewrote Gone With The Wind from the slaves’ point of view, and titled it “The Wind Done Blown”. It was clear from reports I read that this was intended as a serious, “literary”, retelling of the original.

    The Mitchell estate’s lawyers jumped on it, and kept it from being published. Then the other side’s lawyers came up with the idea of claiming it was a parody of the original, and since parodies are allowed (to the eternal glee of Mad magazine), it was ruled in court that it could be published.

    This annoyed me at the time, since the initial actions made it pretty clear to me that the author had not written it as a parody, and they just, succcessfully, claimed it was to get around those pesky copyright and trademark laws.

  • Rick Keating says:

    I also hope a cease and desist letter is en route (if not delivered already) to this “writer” and her “publisher.” Do they really believe characters are only copyrightable if drawn? What? In their universe only characters in comicbooks, comic strips and political cartoons are copyrightable? If we extend the “logic” of the argument put forth by this “publisher”, then the copyright to the name and image of Barack Obama belongs to this, that or the other artist who has drawn him, right? Which means by their logic that President Obama could be sued for using the name and likeness of President Obama.

    I can’t help but wonder if these people actually believe the crap they’re spewing, or are cynically hoping enough people will be stupid enough to believe it, so they can somehow get away with it.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    I haven’t read so much as a word of the Twilight books; nor have I seen the movie, so I can’t speak to their overall quality. But whatever the quality of the work, the copyright to the characters belong to Stephenie Meyer and are not available for just anyone to use.

    I hope she raises hell with these thieves.

    And we are talking about thieves, plain and simple.

    On the subject of fan fiction, last week I watched one of the Star Trek New Voyages “episodes” for the first time. I understand that the people who make these “episodes” have tacit approval to do so, which is rather nice of Paramount or CBS or whomever the parent company is.

    What I don’t get is this: These people are allowed to make their own “episodes.” Why— in this one case at least— insert dialogue from an actual produced Star Trek episode? The dialogue in question, slightly reworded (substitute “father” for “an ancestor”) was originally between Kirk and Spock during their chess game in the teaser of “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” In this New Voyages “episode”, Kirk and Spock are again playing chess, but now McCoy’s with them (they’re all in Kirk’s quarters) and this exact same dialogue is split between the three of them.

    Again, why revamp dialogue from an aired episode instead of taking advantage of this opportunity and write original dialogue? But at least the entire “episode” was reworked dialogue from the series and/or the movies.

    Plus, it raises a copyright question: Did they get permission from the estate of Samuel A. Peeples to re-use dialogue he wrote?

    But again the Twilight rip-off people are thieves, nothing less.


    • Yotsuyasan says:

      There are important distinctions between this and New Voyages/Phase II.

      Point one, as you pointed out, they have a gentelmen’s agreement with Paramount as long as they don’t try and make any prophet. (Heck, they even loaned bits of their bridge set to Paramount for Star Trek: Enterprise’s mirror universe two parter!)

      A somewhat related point two, they don’t try any prophet. That makes New Voyages/Phase II the filmed equivelent of fan fiction. If Lady Whats-her-name put her Twilight sequel up on the web for free, she still might annoy the original author (and I’d still have no interest in reading it) but I’d find no wrong done. The only I could justify money coming into play would be if she did want to put out a printed version, and charged exactly enough to cover printing and shipping.

      Back to New Voyages/Phase II… From your description, sounds like you watched “Come What May.” Their pilot, and certianly far from their best. I’d recomend you keep going. Each episode gets progressively better, to the point where the last two episodes really made me feel like I was watching new episodes of classic Trek, but with a different cast. (I would have said the last three episodes, but the huge continuity issue with “To Serve All My Days” did knock it back a tad. Still a good episode, but I do wish they’d found a way to make it fit continuity.)

      • Yotsuyasan says:

        Kind of never addressed your actual question about New Voyages, eh? Sorry about that. As to it… Well, I can’t really speak for their writers, but my opinion? The first two episodes aren’t really that well written. Period. They showed enough promise to make me want to watch a few more, but if they hadn’t improved, I’d have soon stopped being interested. Fortunately, they got better!

        The second episode, In Harms Way, with the way it tries to cram as much stuff together as possible and tie it all into one story, while throwing in more references then you could shake a stick at, reminded me in a way of some of PAD’s works… except done poorly. I suppose, to PAD’s credit, it is a hard thing to do well without making it seem like a giant fan-boy wank.

        Now, a Phase II episode written by PAD! I shan’t hold my breath or anything, but that’d be awesome.

  • Jennifer Califf says:

    Considering that the Twilight series itself reads like a Mary-Sue fanfic, her version might be an improvement. ;)

    I remember, years ago, I borrowed a hard bound book from the parents of a kid I used to babysit for. It was a story about a time-travelling Doctor who landed on the bridge of a starship and met the Captain, the Science Officer, the Medical Officer, etc. I was amazed that it had been published. It was more than a little difficult to read with all the names replaced by generic titles, but I guess that’s how they got around the copyright. It was probably still a copyright violation, but I was impressed by the fact that they had managed to get it made at all.

  • Scavenger says:

    Blake sez: “It’s almost tragic that people think this is kosher, enough people to create and staff a publishing company.”

    You’re assuming that this is a company in the sense it, you know, exists.

    I mean, my publishing company, Scavenger Publishing is made up of me and my plush beagles…and we’re pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of our new novel “Town on the Fringe of Eternity”, which features space journeymen traveling through a mystic portal known as the Custodian of Perpetuity and the hard lessons of dabbling with time.

    Cuz, any publicity is good, right?

    • Blake says:

      You’re right, I did jump the gun in giving it the imagined legitimacy of a group of people. I forget that publishing “companies” don’t have to exist like the university press I’m currently interning for. This reminds me of a sci-fi story about the world being choked to death by too many people creating and promulgating too much junk content, until an AI decides to take control of all information flow just to stop this kind of crap from happening. Right now, I’d welcome that AI.

  • Michaelies says:

    Yeah, it only takes one person to incorporate something. Plenty of comics folks run publishing companies from their homes. (They also have the added benefit of working with their own material.)

    • mike weber says:

      Actually, i think it takes more than one person to incorporate, but the other(s) cam be an attorney and/or accountant.

  • Peter J Poole says:

    Ya know, as fiendish schemes to violate copyright and make a killing in book sales go, this is a pretty lame-ass fiendish scheme.
    Personally, I’m thinking ‘emotionally overinvested’ fan-fic writer here, possibly with less than two oars actually in the water… I really don’t think we need the tar, the feathers and the crucifix to nail her to this time.
    The Twiglet series never did a lot for me, but my daughter was crazy for it a year ago and there’s no doubt that Ms Meyer did tap into a passionate fanbase by giving them something they enjoyed and/or needed in their lives.
    BTW, there are a lot of good professional writers who started off doing fan-fic, which, OMG, probably drives holes through several layers of copyright law. I sure as hell know I did, back when I was in Cerebro and Inertron (APA fanzines), and my wife and her friends wrote a lot of Star Trek fiction, some of which was actually pretty good. The trick is that once you’ve practiced there, you go find your own characters to torture.

  • Joe Nazzaro says:

    The irony of this situation is if this writer had a bit more creativity into this project, maybe she could have created a novel that could have sold as a legit project. Just walk through the young adult section of any Barnes & Noble and the shelves are packed with angst-ridden vampire fiction; I can’t help wondering if the author in question couldn’t have written something derivative but different enough that she could have pitched it as Twilight-like in the same way that publishers were (and probably still are) deluged with Harry Potter-like material.

  • John Hudgens says:

    “Characters are only copyrightable if their creator draws them or hires an artist to draw them”

    Yeah right… I wish I could find my thesis paper from my Commications Law class back in the early 90s… it was on this exact subject of character copyrights and trademarks – specifically, how WRONG the statement above is… :)

    One of the more applicable cases I remember involved Sam Spade, where Warner Bros. claimed they owned the character because they bought the movie rights to “The Maltese Falcon”, and tried to block Dashiell Hammett from reusing the character in other media… they lost…

  • edhopper says:

    I guess you don’t think I should publish my new book, “Larry Rotter and the Full Blood King”?

  • mike weber says:

    Queen Anthai says:

    And honestly, if you’re going to rip something off, rip something of QUALITY off instead of @#$%ing Twilight.

    In his military SF, my brother sometimes quotes the dictum “Quantity has a quality of its own.”
    Perhaps the lady has seen the quantity (of money) that Twilight has amassed and thinks she could use some, too.
    (As to avatars – i’m not signed up with WordPress – well, i was once, many years ago, but i’m not using it; prolly couldn’t even recall the log-in these days); i signed up with some other service and made my avatar that way. Ah – there it is – it’s called “Gravatar” [Globally Recognized avatar] at )

  • scott says:

    “It staggers the imagination that Lady Sybilla might actually be a worse writer than Stephenie Meyer.”

    So is Peter saying that Stephenie Meyer is a terrible writer? I haven’t read any Twilight books… I see they have fairly good reviews on amazon.

    • John says:

      Just because someone is popular, doesn’t mean they are good.

      The Twilight series of books are the literary equivalent of boy-bands. Teenage girls go sqee when they see them. And the effect seems to be contagious amongst a certain (mental) age-group.

      • Jerri says:

        Ok – I have to put this comment in… I enjoyed the Twilight books. I’m not taking your comment “And the effect seems to be contagious amongst a certain (mental) age-group.” seriously… I’m a teacher and grandmother… my 5th grade girls – and even a few of the boys – enjoy the books. As I came to your comment this morning, it made me snicker… I really enjoy my guilty pleasures.

        No matter the quality, if people enjoy it, that’s what counts. And there’s no doubt that this series is getting my little cynical darlings to read – even my way-below-grade-level kids are working on it, and the stronger readers love reading it to them.

        I do hope the author jumps on this – there are too many people out there who are stealing others’ hard work. A message needs to be sent.

    • Peter David says:

      I only read the first one, and even that was a slog. Flat characters, wafer-thin characterization, and technique that was just flat-out bad. The story just sort of ambles along and then stops. The POV actually sleeps through the climax; I nearly joined her.

      Understand that I’m not the target audience. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a teenage girl. And a book being badly written doesn’t exclude the possibility of it being enjoyable to the right readership. Being a former teenage boy, I can thrill to an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel even though from a literary standpoint is prose is achingly awful.


  • Alyson Miers says:

    Someone wants to be Steve Vander Ark, I see, though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to emulate him. Did we Harry Potter fans not excoriate him hard enough? Or, I suppose this Lady Sybilla character enjoys being tied up in leather bindings and beaten with a wooden switch while being forced to say, “Thank you sir, may I have another!” after every strike. There are some people like that, I suppose.

  • spikewriter says:

    ::beats head against desk::

    Y’know, most fic writers understand we’re playing in someone else’s sandbox and there are two big rules: Thou Shalt Not Attract Official Notice and Thou Shalt Not Profit From Someone Else’s Copyright. This fool just violated both.

  • Jay Tea says:

    Damn… and I was just finishing up my 800-page epic about the great hero, Tacit, who overcomes tremendous obstacles in his quest to rescue and gain the hand of the princess and become the heir to the throne of the kingdom when, in a tragic twist, the childhood friend he protected returns to betray him and…

    No, better not say any more. I might be able to salvage the plot somehow.


  • jason says:

    I think we’re going about this all wrong. There are many instances where an author can create a book and create something totally original, but have it be inspired by the work of someone else.

    Now with the author of this book (and I’m not at all familiar with the famous book series) she wouldn’t be able to mention or refer to any of the specific plot points of the meyer’s series or have characters that have the same traits as the ones that she created, but the book series is so famous that she wouldn’t even have to imply any of it.

    All the character has to do is appear in the book and the reader will be able to instantly imply certain things onto the nature of the character.

    Think of it like this. Say I’m writing a Harry Potter inspired novel using one of the 4th or 5th tier characters. I don’t mention hogwarts by name, but I refer to the school that my character attends as being a vast, magical creation with eccentric professors and even more eccentric students. You the reader will imply onto the book that I am talking about Hogwarts although its never actually mentioned by name.

    I could also have Harry appear, but could refer to him simply as Harry or the “kid with the scar”, etc. and that would be acceptible.

    There are many instances of the same thing happening in comic books. How many times has a super-man-like character appeared in marvel or image comics. All you have to do is show the character with a red flowing cape and blue spandex and we instantly make the connection that that character is superman without the author ever having to say his name or include the S-Shield in any of the art. (See Spawn’s crossover with Cerebus for references)

    ALL THIS BEING SAID — It takes so much time to dance around the edges that I think that it would be more worth it to write a novel from scratch without trying to have books “inspired by” something else. Part of the fun of the Harry Potter books is the descriptions brought to places and events. If an inspired by author can only refer to these instances in vague terms it looses much of the magic. Also the fact that this woman is promoting the book and trying to tie it so heavily to the meyer’s series will mean that she will inevitably be sued. And will be squished like you would not believe because I’m pretty sure they have more money and need to protect their cash cow.

  • Daddy G. says:

    Timely item on the topic of plagiarism and idea-borrowing at io9 (by Charlie Jane Anders with “Additional reporting by Alasdair Wilkins”)…
    Science Fiction’s Greatest Stolen Ideas
    For good serendipitous measure the piece references both PAD (w/re to Star Crash by Gardner Fox) and Asimov.

  • Joe Nazzaro says:

    Peter, I think you summed it up very well, as far as how the books are written. I finally had to read Twilight in anticipation of interviewing Robert Pattison about the film, and I had the same trouble slogging through it. But if I’m not the target audience, it’s a bit unfair to criticize it by my own personal demographic.

    That being said, I picked up The Host recently just to see if I enjoyed it a bit more and found it equally unreadable.

    • Craig J. Ries says:

      But if I’m not the target audience, it’s a bit unfair to criticize it by my own personal demographic.

      Eh, if it’s poorly written, it doesn’t matter what the demographic is, it’s still poorly written. :)

      Harry Potter’s demo is considered to be kids and teens as well, but it’s also well received by adults.

      • Peter J Poole says:

        OK, classic debate sandbagging technique 101; define “poorly written” :)
        Assuming you mean more than poor spelling and bad grammar, “poorly written” often equates to “I didn’t enjoy it”, which is back to personal tastes…

      • mike weber says:

        While i *think* i finished the second Harry Potter – and i much prefer Diana Wynne Jones’ much earlier and much better-written takes on most of the same ideas plus a lot more – i understand that it transcends its target demo, and i’m glad for Ms Rowling and all of the editors, directors and actors.
        My own choice for books that transcend what might be presumed to be their target demo are the novels of Tamora Pierce, which i believe PAD has mentioned his daughter enjoys.
        And they’re Very Well Written.
        And they have Very Strong female protagonists and secondary characters.

  • Aris Katsaris says:

    While this point of view might be applauded by the “everything should be free to everyone on the internet” crowd

    When one writes free sequels and distributes them on the Internet, it’s called “writing fanfics”, and yes, I’m in favor of permitting fanfics, though you probably disagree.

    The incident you describe is notable because there’s a person that wants to do this for profit, to establish her own copyright on top of someone else’s and use a company to advertise that endeavour, not to declare copyright obsolete as a whole. As such she’s no progressive.

    Mind you the insanity of copyright law means that she can just call her work a “parody” and proceed to publish it as such. If copyright violation truly is “theft”, then I have to wonder why stealing someone’s property while writing jokes about it is allowed, but stealing someone’s property while writing something serious isn’t.

    Nor do I think that the copyright owner will lose one cent via “Lady Sybilla’s” efforts, regardless of your desire to view copyright violation to be theft. The people losing their money will probably be Twilight-obsessed teenage girls that buy into the hype. They should just seek decent free fanfics instead.

    Though writing fanfics also is theft, no?

  • Peter David says:

    When one writes free sequels and distributes them on the Internet, it’s called “writing fanfics”, and yes, I’m in favor of permitting fanfics, though you probably disagree.

    I’d be a hell of a hypocrite if I did considering I used to write “Star Trek” fan fic, a fact I’ve mentioned elsewhere and which you either missed or ignored.

    The incident you describe is notable because there’s a person that wants to do this for profit, to establish her own copyright on top of someone else’s and use a company to advertise that endeavour, not to declare copyright obsolete as a whole. As such she’s no progressive.

    No, it’s notable because she has a definition of copyright that is so completely off the wall, she thinks the only way to copyright a character is to draw them.

    Mind you the insanity of copyright law means that she can just call her work a “parody” and proceed to publish it as such.

    You’re referring of course to the “Gone With The Wind” sequel and you’re right, that was insane. But that doesn’t mean copyright is insane; it means that the author managed to find a loophole and exploit it after losing the initial case.

    Nor do I think that the copyright owner will lose one cent via “Lady Sybilla’s” efforts, regardless of your desire to view copyright violation to be theft.

    Not the point. Theft is theft, copyright is copyright. If you ever write something that someone considers worth stealing, you might well feel differently than you currently do.

    The people losing their money will probably be Twilight-obsessed teenage girls that buy into the hype. They should just seek decent free fanfics instead. Though writing fanfics also is theft, no?

    Technically, it probably is, but if it’s not hurting the revenue stream, many copyright holders tend to turn a blind eye to it. But that doesn’t invalidate the copyright claim. The Rowling case involving the Harry Potter Encyclopedia was a clear example of that. Rowling had no problem with an on-line reference source that reproduced entire sections of her work. But when the compiler of that compendium wanted to publish it and profit from it, Rowling said “No” and the courts agreed.


    • mike weber says:

      But, as i recall (possibly incorrectly), didn’t the guy offer to rewrite his concordance/encyclopedia so as to remove the quoted material … and Rowling and/or her publishers went to court to block that, too?

      (Incidentally, on a totally unrelated tack, i heard Jiminy Cricket singing in my head as i typed one word in that sentence [i always do]; who can guess which?)

    • Aris Katsaris says:

      I’d be a hell of a hypocrite if I did considering I used to write “Star Trek” fan fic,

      That’s a fact I missed.

      Not the point. Theft is theft, copyright is copyright.4

      Yes, and copyright violation is copyright violation. Copyright violation isn’t theft, the same way that copyright violation isn’t arson, and copyright violation isn’t breaking and entering, and copyright violation isn’t murder, and copyright violation isn’t running a red light.

      Theft implies someone immediately unlawfully depriving someone of some possession. Copyright violation might hypothetically cost you some monetary loss in the future, or then again it might not, or then again it might cause you benefit via advertisement.

      Is it unlawful? Yes. Is it “theft”? No. It’s a different legal violation.

      If you ever write something that someone considers worth stealing, you might well feel differently than you currently do.

      Extremely possible. I’m not immune to hypocrisy.

      But honestly, I don’t mind taking Meyer’s side on this particular issue, as I mostly supported JKR’s side as well in the case of the encyclopedia. When people seek to publish books for profit, they insert themselves into the system of copyright law, and they don’t have a right to complain of its existence.

      I consider it morally different when something is offered for free — in those cases I support the provider of the free goods against the copyright-owner.

      • Peter J Poole says:

        “I consider it morally different when something is offered for free — in those cases I support the provider of the free goods against the copyright-owner.”
        Regardless of who the copyright-owner happens to be? And even if the person handing out the freebies is, by doing so, directly depriving the copyright holder of the money s/he needs to pay the rent or feed his/her family family? Or do you accept that “circumstances alter cases”?

      • Aris Katsaris says:

        Peter J, my view in short is that free advertising doesn’t truly hurt anyone, that fanficcing doesn’t truly hurt any writers, that fanvidding doesn’t hurt either the bands or the series creators.

        Your argument starts from the assumption that it does hurt people, and that it *does* directly deprive people of goods. My feeling is the opposite: That goods offered freely help everyone in the end.

        After I bought my DRM-troublesome copy of “Nation” by Terry Pratchett from, all legal and proper, I ended up illegally downloading a free unencoded copy of it via eMule, which I won’t need to bother with special credit-card-number-enabled readers in order to enjoy.

        I’m so sure someone somewhere was hurt that I was so infringing copyright and therefore “stealing” by downloading an easier-to-read free copy of “Nation”, even though I also paid in full from Fictionwise for a copy I won’t use.

        But on my part, I am grateful to the guy who placed an unlocked version of Nation to eMule for me to download. I am grateful to Pratchett as well, and that’s why I paid for the first copy as well, but honestly? I’d have served Pratchett better if I simply had a Paypal button to donate money to him directly.

      • To some degree Aris Katsaris is correct. copyright violation is not the strict legal definition of theft. There’s even a noted legal ruling about just that.
        ” interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: … ‘an infringer of the copyright.’ …
        The infringer invades a statutorily defined province guaranteed to the copyright holder alone. But he does not assume physical control over the copyright; nor does he wholly deprive its owner of its use. While one may colloquially link infringement with some general notion of wrongful appropriation, infringement plainly implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud.
        (Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207, pp. 217–218)”

        However, the standard terminology that is commonly applied, even in court, is that copyright violation is a theft. Of late it’s often referred to as a theft of intellectual property.
        But make no mistake, the courts do recognize it as a form of theft. They have spliced the legal fine print so that it is clear that it is not the removal of physical property and that the violation of copyright does not remove the ability of the owner of the copyright to exercise and profit from that copyright. But they do make it clear that the violation can cause loss of potential incomes to the holder and does count as some form of theft.
        As headache inducing as that convoluted mess is it can actually get worse. With so much happening now with the net and the laws around the world (see: China) being enforced differently, there are some people really pushing for it to be more closely associated with the traditional idea of theft and just as many pushing to clearly define the two things as completely different forms of legal violations.
        Personally, in cases like this, I’d like to see it ranked much closer to some of the laws for physical forms of theft and see the people getting much stiffer penalties. Screw just fining them. A little jail time might make the Lady Sybillas of the world think a little harder about how clearly copyright really is defined.

      • Peter J Poole says:

        Thanks for offering Aris, but I would prefer to make my own arguments…:)
        For the record, I tend to view fanfic and fanvids as reasonably harmless too. In most of those cases, the creators are fans who have shelled out real money for the original goods and are (usually) “borrowing” someone elses creations to serve as stage props and extras for their own productions. A lot of creators and companies do turn a blind eye to it, provided the characters don’t turn into porn-stars, because it is a form of free advertising, or at least it doesn’t impact sales significantly.
        (It’s probably worth mentioning the historical context, that fanfic was born in the dim distant days pre-interweb when fanzines were badly xeroxed or hand-gestenered with a print run of a hundred or so if they were popular. This new fangled technology has allowed a lot more people to create fanfic and distribute it far wider, which does open the door to copyright holders being slightly more concerned about its impact…)
        However, in your second example, you are talking about a different kettle of dormice entirely, because it’s not something built on the same platform, it’s an actual copy of the original goods. The fact that the publishing company went to the expense and effort of putting copyright protection and DRM on the book surely indicates that there is a real financial impact being felt from the actions of those who hand out the freebie copies?
        And while the availability of a copy from emule is just covenience for you, are you seriously saying that there won’t be people who download that instead of buying the book and don’t generate one penny of income for Mr Pratchett?
        I think my argument is TANSTAAFL, no matter how much people want one or feel they deserve one.

      • L. Walker says:

        Aris: “Theft implies someone immediately unlawfully depriving someone of some possession.”

        In the US, theft is defined on the State level. Subsequently, the language used to enforce theft can vary. In regards to California, the law specifically cites instances of theft that have nothing to do with the transfer or loss of a physical item.

        Additionally, we have the concurring opinion of a Justice of the Supreme Court, in the well publicized “Grokster” case of 2005.

        Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer: “Deliberate unlawful copying is no less an unlawful taking of property than garden-variety theft.”

        The “theft involves a physical item” argument is a popular one on the the internet. It is repeated alot. But repetition does not make a thing universally true.

        The world is changing fast. Adhering to outdated terminology that is not even universally applied only serves to ignore the spirit of the law in favor of the letter of the law. In theory, we are all raised knowing that acquiring something for free while circumventing the official channels requiring payment is wrong.

  • Slightly OT and more than a little hypocritically stated since I just used the reply function, but…
    If you (Peter) and Glenn have gotten the format finalized to your complete satisfaction I’d like to throw out a comment on posting style. The reply function can be a nice thing when a blog has an option to read a thread nested or flat, but it’s a little bit of a pain here when compared to the format you had without it.
    It’s much easier to find your last comment on a flat thread and pick up the reading (and thus any new comments) than it is to see what new comments have been made when you’ve been away for over a day and have to start all over from post 1 in order to scan for replies.
    I don’t know about everyone else, but I did find the flat thread format a little more reader friendly than this nested format.
    Just my two cents. Or, with what the economy has down to it, my 0.04 cents.

    • Jason M. Bryant says:

      I’ve had that issue, too. I like nested threads best when they have something that makes the new threads obvious, like putting the word “New” next to the post in big, red letters.

      If any further tweaks are possible, it’d be nice if we could just log in once and have it remember us. I don’t mind writing my name and e-mail for every message, but it would be nice not to have to.

      • mike weber says:

        what they said.
        How about an e-mail when someone posts to a thread you’ve posted to (or only when someone replies to one of your comments) – like ComicMix does?
        Of course, on something like the S_D thread, that might well crash your e-mail account.
        Though, on the gripping hand, it might be nice if that crowded out the *other* spam…

      • Peter J Poole says:

        Also what they said, ref finding hew posts and staying signed in…
        Personally I prefer vBulletin style, but I appreciate converting to a full bulletin board format involves a lot of admin overhead, never mind the arseache of importing older posts.
        BTW, I am asserting my intellectual property rights on the use of “-” to create Legibility Line Breaks(TM) and expect royalty payments from all of you by the end of the month…:P

  • JamesLynch says:

    Has anyone considered that Lady Sybilla *knows* that this won’t work? Perhaps this whole thing is simply a way of getting herself attention. By so blatantly ignoring the copyright of the current massive TWILIGHT franchise (and ignoring any questions of its quality — I haven’t read ‘em so I can’t say — the books, movie, and DVD are insanely popular), Lady Sybilla has generated plenty of controversy — and lots of free publicity for herself. Maybe when the dust settles, someone will like her other work or will think she’s a famous name and decide to publish her work. Maybe the whole thing is a shell game where the TWILIGHT “novel” is a distraction to make her famous.

    This may seem unlikely and stupid — but is it more stupid than thinking that such a massive franchise wouldn’t have copyright protections in place?

    • Craig J. Ries says:

      Maybe when the dust settles, someone will like her other work or will think she’s a famous name and decide to publish her work.

      And I’ll be there, ready to tell people to not read it based on past history. This person doesn’t deserve a future in publication after a stunt like this.

      • hng23 says:

        (Here from fandom_wank.) That won’t necessarily work. Take the case of fanfic author Cassie Claire, notorious for writing a huge Harry Potter slashfic novel that turned out to be plagiarized from several different sources, also for accepting expensive gifts from fans that she may or may not have asked for. She’s got 3 original published novels for sale at amazon under a slightly different name (Cassandra Clare), & while angry fanficcers flooded the amazon comments w/complaints, it has made no difference in sales. (IIRC, amazon took down those comments.)

  • Yeah, James, but how well does that really work? Hey, aren’t you the idiot who thought you could rip off Meyers’ stuff?” I mean, it’s not like Alice Randall is exactly a household name even after winning her case over The Wind Done Gone.
    You get a name by having good work or, as with people like Ed Wood and Uwe Boll, extremely bad work. But just being the person who was dumb enough to try and play stupid games doesn’t seem to last too long after your 15 minutes in the news cycle spotlight fades away.

    • JamesLynch says:

      I’m not saying it’s a great plan, or even a good plan — but it does explain a lot. Someone who writes a lot of fanfic (that presumably is lost in the shuffle of all the other fanfic on the Internet) decides that they’ll hitch their wagon to the TWILIGHT wagon in a way that’s so amazingly outrageous that everyone’ll be talking about it, her name will achieve a large amount of notoriety, and maybe they hope to leverage *that* notoriety into something profitable more than their initial idiotic plan.

      Again, I’m not offering this as a recommendation or a redeeming factor, just a possible motivation for Lady Sybilla doing this. Most posts here discuss why she can’t get away with the copyright infringement — but what if she doesn’t care about getting away with it, because that’s not her endgame? I still think it explains an awful lot.

  • Chris G says:

    Okay, PAD or someone, could you please explain something to me, as it appears I’m suffering from a terrible case of naivete. See, I’ve always held the opinion that you can’t be popular in the literary world without possessing some degree of talent. My big example in this is Christopher Paolini, who seemed to do well with “Eragon,” but as it turns out had the PR-ready background but not the talent, which was kind of a shame.

    Stephanie Meyer, though, has four books and an unrelated novel that have become best-sellers. It kind of blows my mind that she could get that popular without someone seeing though her, and not in the sense that people like to criticize the Harry Potter books, but in the sense that a bunch of people realize she is just not a good writer. So is she conning a ton of people or what?

    PAD, I’d love to hear what a professional writer’s take on this is.

    • Peter J Poole says:

      I think you answered your own question. :)
      There’s a gap you could drive a bandersnatch through between being popular and being good… For example, McDonalds burgers are popular, but they’re not chateaubriand steaks cooked by the finest chef in Europe.
      So I don’t think Ms Meyer is conning anyone, so long as they like her burgers.

  • Jerome Maida says:

    If this is totally “ignorance is bliss” and the woman has talent, I would be ready to forgive her and perhaps read her stuff. If she is cynically doing it to cash in on the publicity, win or lose, then I would have considerably less respect for her and would likely not support her work. There are too many other talented writers out there for me to support. It would make no sense for me to reward a pure publicity ploy, if, indeed, that’s what it is.

  • IGPNicki says:

    Well, she’s right about one thing… bad publicity is better than no publicity . And in that spirit, this webmistress will not be discussing this little newsbyte in the hopes that “Lady S” garners no more free press and all that will come of it is a cease and desist letter.
    And on the subject of not being the target audience… well, I was a few years back… inbetween my Peter David fixes I would read *good* teen horror novels, and honestly, Twilight – it’s just not good… I got about halfway through the book before I realised that nothing particularly interesting was actually going to happen.

    • Jason M. Bryant says:

      “Well, she’s right about one thing… bad publicity is better than no publicity.”

      The exception to the rule is when you’re doing something illegal and hoping to avoid getting shut down.

    • Peter David says:

      Well, she’s right about one thing… bad publicity is better than no publicity

      Not necessarily. Remember the LA riots in 1992? Guys were smashing in the windows of electronic stores, grabbing televisions out of the displays, tucking them under their arms…and then waving to television cameras as they ran away. Basically they were shouting, “Look at me! I’m stealing stuff and it’s okay if I’m doing it!” Big shock: the police were subsequently able to arrest the nimrods because they had 100% IDs on them. The thieves got plenty of publicity; didn’t benefit them any.


  • Joe Nazzaro says:

    Chris G, I’m going to take exception with your assertion about Christopher Paolini. For somebody who’s only in his early twenties, I think he has an enormous amount of talent. What he needs is a merciless editor or two, who isn’t afraid to make hard suggestions about how to make his work better. For somebody who has already had three best-selling novels at an age where many writers are still in school, I think he has plenty of time to improve his skills, if he’s serious about doing this as his career.

    • Chris G says:

      Joe, I think he’s got an enormous sense of dedication, work ethic and ambition. However, I have to admit I couldn’t make it through Eragon. The writing was fair, but the ideas were stale and not presented in any kind of new way. I give him a lot of credit for writing these books, which as I said takes a lot of dedication. But as a lot of reviewers have noted, they’re really not that good.

      • KarenBoe says:

        But, as noted above, it is pretty incredible considering his age.

      • Peter J Poole says:

        Being mildly argumentative here, but how good is “that good”?
        Good and bad are incredibly subjective terms, and usually end up equating to how much one person enjoyed or didn’t enjoy the experience. I tend to snigger a lot at reviewers who take themselves seriously enough to sit in judgement quite that pompously. (Reviewers do serve a purpose, there’s one guy who does movie reviews and so far it’s around the 90 percentile that if he slates the movie then I’ll enjoy it…)
        The value of a good editor who is not afraid to tell the writer that his baby is in fact butt ugly is inestimable. I wish there were more of them, not just in publishing but for their functional equivalents in TV and movies where I tend to see so much stuff that is so fixable if only someone would just raise their heads and bark before the product gets shipped…

  • John Seavey says:

    Just as a point of factual clarification, the courts didn’t agree that “The Wind Done Gone” was parody; the suit was settled out of court, and one of the terms of the settlement was that the book be called a parody. This was purely an arrangement between the Margaret Mitchell estate and the publishers of “Wind Done Gone”, and not a legal judgment of any sort.

  • JamesLynch says:

    Anyone who believes there’s no such thing as bad publicity should chat with Bernie Madoff. Or anyone who’s on the news for being charged with child molestation.

    Incidentally, what internet addict came up with this “free publicity” rationalization for violating copyright? I keep seeing people talking about scanning in whole comics, or getting paid for other people’s copywritten creations, and then claiming it’s free publicity for the source material. First, most companies handle their publicity themselves (and the TWILIGHT series needs no help with that: If the only copies of the dvd at my store were on the roof, folks’d be scrambling up the sides of the building to get them). Second, the company/person holding the copyright decides on the public campaign they want — it’s not up to some amateur fan to decide what they’ll do “for” the copyright holder. Third — and most importantly — is most copyright holders step in, as is the case here, when someone is trying to make a profit off someone else’s creation without their permission. There’s no push to ban all TWILIGHT fanfic — but in the case of Lady Sybilla, she’s talking about making money off someone else’s creation, something they own the copyright to and haven’t extended permission to use.

    Maybe before these folks decide to “favor” an author or company with their “free publicity” (that, oddly enough, only profits themselves and not the author/company ), these copyright violators may want to contact the author/favor to ask permission — y’know, since their free publicity is so valuable no one would *ever* turn it down.

    • mike weber says:

      We went over this in excruciating detail on the “Scans_Daily” thread (and the “Byrne Stealing” spinoff thread) a while back.
      Those who hold the position engaged in proof by assertion – “What I tell you three times is true.” They didn’t seem to ne interested in producing any, you know, mer facts in favour of the position.

  • Pai says:

    What I just can’t get over is the title… ‘Russet Noon’… as in ‘Red Noon’…cuz it’s a Jacob-fic. And he’s an American Indian… get it? I mean really, that can’t be a coincidence.

    It’s like a trainwreck you can’t stop watching!

  • Rick Keating says:

    Jerry Chandler said, “It’s much easier to find your last comment on a flat thread and pick up the reading (and thus any new comments) than it is to see what new comments have been made when you’ve been away for over a day and have to start all over from post 1 in order to scan for replies.
    I don’t know about everyone else, but I did find the flat thread format a little more reader friendly than this nested format.”

    I’m with Jerry on this. I think it’s much more user friendly to be able to pick off at the most recent post you read and continue from there. But to scan through an entire thread– especially a long one– to see if new replies have been inserted within it? Not so user friendly.

    Besides, in the very act of scanning, someone might skip over a new reply, thinking they’ve seen it before.

    On the other hand, it could be worse. PAD could have a set-up like the Yahoo groups posts, where for some bizarre reason 99 times out of 100 every reply contains the text of the post they’re replying to (and so on). You’d think someone would only keep relevant text from a previous post, not just hit “reply”, giving us a chain of repeated statements from person Z all the way back to person A.

    But I guess it’s too much work for people to clear away the extraneous material after hitting “reply” on those types of forums. And all that extra material makes reading messages in those forums a chore.

    So again, the format change could have been a lot worse.

    But I still prefer seeing new comments appended to the bottom rather than mixed in among those already posted. Easier to find them that way.


  • [...] fandom buzzing and several professionals weighing in, Lady Sybilla and her ‘publisher,’ AV Paranormal, are backing [...]

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