Drone News: FAA proposes to fine Philly YouTuber $180k. What and why it happened.

A little different format this week as we will only talk about one topic for Drone News, followed by a discussion regarding the regulation behind what happened. The FAA proposed $180,000 of fines against a YouTube from Philly for videos he posted online.

** A clarification as many have asked: no, the mere act of putting your footage on YouTube is NOT a determining factor for whether or not you qualify for the recreational flyer exception. The intent of the flight must be taken into account, as explained in the video **

A lot of you had questions about why it happened and if whether or not the FAA will crack down on your videos. We explain the regulation behind what happened and specifically the difference between Part 107 and Recreational Flying.

We will answer the following questions:
– What is the difference between hobbyist and part 107?
– When do I need a drone pilot certificate (remote Pilot certificate) under Part 107?
– Do I need a certificate to post my video on YouTube or social media in general?
– Can the FAA fine me for my video on social media?
– Why did the FAA fine this guy?

If you want some additional reading, here’s the Advisory Circular I use in the video:

And here’s the link to the regulation under 49 USC 44809 that stem from the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-05-17/pdf/2019-10169.pdf

– Get your own Pilot Institute T-shirt or Long Sleeve T: https://amzn.to/30CLtBw
– Part 107 Made Easy: the most comprehensive ground school online. https://bit.ly/2AkRWq0
– Drone Business Made Easy: start your drone business with a solid foundation. https://bit.ly/3dVT55T
– Drone Flying 101: the perfect course for beginners. https://bit.ly/2XUy3Pc
– Drone Maneuvers Mastery: become a better pilot with these 50 maneuvers designed to improve your flying skills. https://bit.ly/3hkWkG3
– Cinematic FPV Drone From Scratch: build your own cinematic machine with this course. https://bit.ly/37oOfeG


  1. Mini GP Racing on December 8, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    So summary is that we can only fly at CBO fields under their rules. And can not use the video for really any purpose outside our own home playback devices because they can twist intent. This is why I haven’t even atempted to fly in the last few years. The FAA was given some over reaching authority in the hobby areas. And with remote ID the fixed wing aircraft are going to fall as well.

  2. Rob Camarda on December 8, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Great great video, great information. On point from beginning to end.

  3. Mark Apolinski on December 8, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    "In furtherance of a business" doesn’t specify *your* business. It can mean *any* business. Including YouTube. Making your done video public on YouTube (since YouTube gets revenue from your video) could be considered by the FAA to be in furtherance of a business.

  4. jbasile99c on December 8, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Love the great work you do. All for smart flying. Just one question/comment for your FAA contacts. You mentioned that the FAA’s charter is keeping the airspace safe. I fully support that. The question I would ask is how does posting a non-monetized video on youtube of a safe flight violate the recreational flying provision ? There is no danger to anyone for such a practice. Monetized videos, I understand why but not non-monetized. I’m not understanding. Many thanks and keep up the great work.

  5. racsyr on December 8, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    First of all, great video Greg. Very informative. I’ve always heard that intent was always a determining factor in whether you were required to have a 107 certification. You seemed to agree with that. So consider a scenario where I fly for fun and shoot some video. Strictly recreational (although I suppose one could argue that if you’re shooting video, there’s a secondary intent besides just flying for fun). I happen to show my video to my friends and family on my TV. Still recreational? I’d say so. Now my family in another part of the country wants to see it so I post it on social media or my non-monetized YouTube channel. Should the medium that I use to show the video make a difference on whether it’s for recreational purposes? I wouldn’t think so and I don’t think the FAA should think so. As you’ve said Greg, it’s about intent. Just like if I shoot video with the intent to use it commercially, I need my 107 certification, even if I do nothing with the video after it’s been taken. If intent is a driving factor, it needs to work both ways. Personally, I have my 107 certification and take a lot of pictures for my company, most of which hasn’t even been used yet and may never be. But it’s about intent.

  6. The Jackal King on December 8, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Who is the YouTuber ?

  7. JSKCKNIT on December 8, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Great, informative video. Actually, the best one I’ve seen thus far. I learned a lot. You’re actually the first to state "intent if the flight" as well. I learned a few things and a few that I need to correct myself on.

  8. Sam Kempton on December 8, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Hello, Professional Period! Thanks

  9. WilzDezign on December 8, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Always great deep dive into the regulations to know the intent of your flight! Also to think about it as flying as Part 107, unless you meet the guidelines to be Recreational

  10. Eddietherocker on December 8, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    I guess just to be safe it’ll be better to get your 107.

  11. Matthew Wagner on December 8, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    So, if I join a recreational soccer league and someone takes a picture or short video and I share that online… I’m no longer playing soccer recreationally? Sounds like BS to me. I’d say it IS still purely recreational. Showing someone else a photo you took with your camera taking recreational photos(not professional) makes it now not "recreational"? I’d say no. That’s ridiculous. Showing it to your friends online is no different. Recreational photography is the FUN of sharing it with friends. It’s for FUN. Therefore it IS recreational. Just like playing with OTHER soccer players is where the FUN is. Doing stuff alone can actually destroy forms of recreation… especially forms like photography in which the nature of its recreation is showing the photo. Taking a photo, for recreation, is not to hide the photo in a box. As long as cash is not made by that individual it’s purely for the fun and love of it.

  12. Brian Gutierrez on December 8, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    What about if I’m flying my C10 under 0.55lb

  13. TheAwakenedOne on December 8, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    I do not believe sharing drone footage violates any of the FAA’s Recreational Regulations, unless there is remuneration or commercial purpose. This Youtuber may have been fined for sharing the footage, because Youtube videos are by their nature, commercial, for Youtube, even if you decided not to monetize the video. I believe this would hold true for any other social media platform given the same reasoning, with the exception for a platform that is not commercialized, if there be such a beast (i.e. sharing via Dropbox should not involve any consequence if it was restricted to that platform).

    I believe the fines were so grievous, because the youtuber violated so many of the other recreational no-nos like flying over people and vehicles, and flying over 400 feet above ground, even though the sky scrapers were higher.

    Your comments and dialog on this subject are invited.

  14. JakeRogue on December 8, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks so much for this video Greg. You are so clear and easy to understand. I learn a lot from watching these videos.

  15. mark guerin on December 8, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    IM registered drone owner I just fly for my own enjoyment I don’t post any videos and I follow all the rules I only fly over 2 residential streets to fly over a wooded area and I have been here in my Florida home for 30 years and I know the people’s property that I fly over they have no problem with me doing so my question is why do I need remote pilot I use a old samung pad that I never have the wifi on and I have no data connection and im still using a older version of the DJI GO FLY APP where it dosent have that flight restiction and using the old MAVRIC AIR with old updates and it works fine so what if I dont want to update or download anything newer on my device am I going to be breaking the law

  16. Troy Wuestefeld on December 8, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Where do I find a cbo to follow?

  17. Ed Helquist on December 8, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    Sorry I see my question was already posed.

  18. Ed Helquist on December 8, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    Greg, I have part 107–I have a question. The only reason I ever posted on YouTube is it takes too long to download a flight that I share with family and friends. The question is “does it make any difference If I post a flight on YouTube and mark it private as oppposed to public”?

  19. Places of Wayne County on December 8, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    Could you make a video the best strategies if you are flying a paid gig and then you notice hobbyist flying all over the place not following any rules. I purchased Verifly drone insurance for the flight. Am I correct the if our drones collided the insurance would cover their drone because that is property damage that occurred? I’m thinking of posting on my social media when I’ll be in the air so hobbyist can have more consideration.

  20. Ray Kelly on December 8, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Interesting video. So many good points here. I subbed to you, please sub to my channel too.

  21. Ray Jackson on December 8, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    Ok, being very new to flying drones all this crap about the FAA is just more an more government intervention/interference to control the population. More and more regulations is controlling the population. I flew R/C airplanes , helicopter back in the earlier 80s and for the most part the only thing you had to worry about was flying at a valid R/C flying field and it was highly recommended that you join the modelers association and have insurance in case you put an out of control aircraft through the windshield of a car in the parking lot. In my opinion the drones are nothing more than expensive toys, and after listening to the video , I removed all my videos from public access and I am seriously wondering if this hobby was a big mistake. With all the government regulation maybe "we the people" need to get permission to go take a c**p! Thanks for a very informative presentation and I am grateful to find out this before I do something that get me in trouble with the FAA.

  22. Francesco Ponticelli on December 8, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    Thabks Greg! Let’s fly safe and keep the Drone pilots reputation good helping to educate as much as we can

  23. Stephen M on December 8, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    Would you agree that posting drone pictures and videos on social media could fall under "freedom of speech" (1st Amendment) and under the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" (4th Amendment)? The right of free speech does more than protect the spoken and written word. One should not be in violation of FAA regulations if one wishes to express oneself by sharing a cinematic video of the countryside. One could argue that capturing and sharing video in order to communicate is functionally similar to sharing information though the written word. Similarly, the government cannot prevent photographers and filmmakers from sharing their art the basis of professional or profit-seeking activity. It seems unlikely that the FAA should classify posting drone pictures and videos taken as "furtherance of a business", even if certain similar activities can be considered "commercial" and subject to heavier restrictions.

    I predict, in the very near future, that someone who is cited by the FAA for merely sharing drone footage on YouTube or any other social media platform, especially when that someone meets all other exceptions for being classified a hobbyist drone pilot, will file a lawsuit claiming violation of these rights, and I predict the outcome will favor the hobbyist drone pilot.

  24. RCMods on December 8, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Do I need to register my DJI mini 2 which weighs less than 250 grams as stated in rule #8?

  25. Paul Shampay on December 8, 2020 at 10:13 pm

    Great explanation of the current rules; but I have a few questions. (I got my part 107 certification in December 2019.) Was recreational flying always carved out of Part 107 in this manner; or did this only happen through the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018? Why is the FAA so hung up about videos posted on social media? I have heard that is their determining factor on recreation flying or not; but that seems very arbitrary to me. (Maybe I am just use social media to share videos & pictures with uncle Harry who lives back East.) Do you know if anyone has pushed back against the FAA on that idea? Thanks for all your good work and keeping us informed. Merry Christmas.

  26. Dennis Becker on December 8, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    I just watched one of that guys drone videos…What an idiot!!! People like this are exactly why the government has regulations and the FAA is 100% correct to impose fines. I am taking Gregs course and have already learned so much. I am planning to take the test in the spring.

  27. Rob Hodges on December 8, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    One of Philly’s Youtube videos popped up in my feed and I watched it. He did have more than 500 foot ceiling above the over 1150 ft that he was flying and didn’t have a cloud within 2000 feet, which you could tell because he was over 5000 ft away from the drone when he flew behind a tower and briefly lost signal (I could imagine that thing returning home into a building, dropping 1100 feet into some poor person below). Other than the ceiling and cloud separation, I think he broke almost all of the rules for recreational flight under any authority and all 107 rules, including flying multiple times over interstate highways. After seeing him on Dobo last week, I thought he might be being singled out for minor infractions…but dam! I can see why the FAA feels the need to talk to him.

  28. Diego Gonzalez on December 8, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Hi there
    Im a little bit confused
    The 8th part says need to register the drone

    So, what about if im flying the mavic mini or mini 2 which are 249grams, and they do not require to be registered
    So, does it means if i fly that drone without registration, but i met all other 7 parts, im not a recreational flyer?

  29. Chuck Hood on December 8, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    $182K? Guessing that the FAA is unfamiliar with the 8th Amendment. Probably unfamiliar with the 10th as well.

  30. David M on December 8, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks for the info Greg. I still believe the FAA (Government) is going to kill this hobby. Make it too complex and people ignore the rules, or just stop flying altogether. What a shame.

  31. EveryDay Man's Review on December 8, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Well, it was fun while is lasted…. time to move on😌😔😞

  32. Keith Whisman on December 8, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Now I can as a recreational pilot post my videos to YouTube to share with family.

  33. Robert Bryant on December 8, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    There are WAY too many scenarios that draw a gray line when it comes to classification of operation! this has to be proven in a court of law not by hearsay on this video or anybody else’s.. .

  34. alan manning on December 8, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    They have done it to us , best to start a new hobby

  35. bigdatapimp on December 8, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    The problem is not regulation. The problem is the extreme over regulation. Regulating safe separation and implementing some simple safe operating requirements is fine.

    That said, there is absolutely no need for the regulation that is coming with Remote ID, the 107 regulations are overstepping as it is. Granted as they are currently enforced, they seem to be ok. The draft AC for FRIAs alone is a disappointing disaster. It basically guarantees that EXTREMELY FEW FRIAs will be created and most of those will be permanently gone after 2 years. The FRIAs will be the ONLY place that most people will be able to fly, and they are designed not to last.

    This the point @xjet was making. Sure keep us under 400ft, and mandate not flying over moving cars or exposed people. Go ahead and even require a (free) reg number on the craft. The pretty much the rest of these regulations are overstepping and wholly unnecessary.

  36. Daniel Morin on December 8, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    I see the biggest problem here is that the term "for recreation" is not clearly defined. With the intent to be compensated is understood, and FAA does have somewhere the term "furthering a business". I don’t consider posting on social media, whether intended or not is "furthering a business". If it were, then you could not intend to take aerials and intend to mail them to Aunt Sally, as you are furthering the postal business for use of their services, just as you are "furthering the social media business" for using their services. I highly doubt that was the intent of the distinction. However as others have said, it could be twisted that way.

  37. Frank Morales III on December 8, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    So, I am flying my drone for fun. The fun part is capturing the weekly construction of my new home. But I then post them on YouTube for my family to see. Does this now make me a non-recreational flyer?

  38. izoyt on December 8, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    funny, how this things always happen in right time (in this case, introduction to new eu regulations etc). it is news, overhyped to roof, with agenda for sure.
    it was same something like 2 years ago, when all that "test" was performed, punching wings of the aircraft, that phantom (in true meaning of the word) drones at the london airport etc etc.
    military and governments are having hard times with civil, hobby drones, that is all. yes, we all know, we should follow all airspace regulations etc, but ffs, we are not criminals, terrorist etc.

  39. Rick Simard on December 8, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Excellent video. I’m new and trying to absorb as much as possible to keep me out of trouble and enjoy.

    I wonder how long it will be before someone challenges the use of social being considered "non-recreational. Example, I was on my roof putting up a new weather station and caught a stunning sunset. I quickly took a picture and posted it to share. Does that make me a professional photographer? I want to make it clear, I am not arguing, just thinking out loud.

    Again, thank you.

  40. M B_ on December 8, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Good clarification between recreational and 107. I was alway in the fog about this. I’m a 107 pilot, but good to know information. Thanks –

  41. deafanimator on December 8, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Please add CC.

  42. Donald Richardson on December 8, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Clearly, if the FAA focused its authority on relevant safety issues such as scrutinizing the modification of the Boeing 737 into the radically different 737 Max with its blatant disregard for educating pilots on the deadly MCAS system, rather than the harmless flying of miniature aircraft who’s ability to safely explore traditionally restricted air space warrants exception rather than scrutiny, the body count would not be as high.

  43. Highly Effective on December 8, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    Love watching your videos and you are great on camera. If you’re interested in monetizing social media we gotta talk! Got some big stuff coming out and you seem like the person that I should talk to. I subscribed to your youtube channel and I would love if you can show love back. I’ll be watching you more often!

  44. Flying Buzzard on December 8, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    even then people at the FAA are confused and make many claims ..First, the exception is recreational flying and placing a video of that recreational flight for recreational viewing is NOT illegal or you can be fined for doing so
    and the Fines the Philly guy was imposed were because of many rule/law violations, NOT because he placed them on youtube….but because his videos showed those violations…there is a difference

    Operators of small unmanned aircraft (also referred to as drones) for recreational purposes must follow the rules in 14 CFR part 107 for FAA certification and operating authority unless they follow the conditions of the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft,
    Section 44809(a) provides eight conditions that must be satisfied to use the exception for recreational small unmanned aircraft (those weighing less than 55 pounds).
    will make it simple
    1 The aircraft is flown strictly for recreational purposes. Your unmanned aircraft must be flown for only a recreational purpose throughout the duration of the operation. You may not combine recreational and commercial purposes in a single operation. If you are using the unmanned aircraft for a commercial or business purpose, the operation must be conducted under 14 CFR part 107 or other applicable FAA regulations.
    2 The aircraft is operated in accordance with or within the programming of a community-based organization’s set of safety guidelines that are developed in coordination with the FAA. ( does NOT demand membership in a CBO nor can the FAA mandate CBO membership) and btw at the moment the FAA does NOT recognize ANY CBO ( will change in the future )
    3The aircraft is flown within the visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft or a visual observer co-located and in direct communication with the operator.
    4 The aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft.
    5In Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, the operator obtains prior authorization from the Administrator or designee before operating and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions. ( LAANC )
    6In Class G airspace, the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet above ground level and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions. Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace in which the FAA does not provide air traffic services. You may operate recreational unmanned aircraft in this airspace up to an altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL). Additionally, you may not operate in any designated restricted or prohibited airspace. This includes airspace restricted for national security reasons or to safeguard emergency operations, including law enforcement activities. The easiest way to determine whether any restrictions or special requirements are in effect where you want to fly is to use the maps on the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery System, which is available at https://udds-faa.opendata.arcgis.com, and to check for the latest FAA NOTAMs.
    7 The operator has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test and maintains proof of test passage to be made available to the Administrator or a designee of the Administrator or law enforcement upon request. Section 44809(g) requires the FAA to develop, in consultation with stakeholders, an aeronautical knowledge and safety test that can be administered electronically. This test is intended to demonstrate a recreational flyer’s knowledge of aeronautical safety knowledge and rules for operating unmanned aircraft. ( not yet created or released to the public )
    8 The aircraft is registered and marked and proof of registration is made available to the Administrator or a designee of the Administrator or law enforcement upon request.

    NO WHERE within those conditions mentions commercial drone flight or the INTENT of such
    Plus commercialize is defined as>to manage on a business basis for profit and or to develop commerce OR to exploit for profit
    To say one is flying commercial by posting youtube videos is absurd and will be easily refuted in the courts
    INTENT>a usually clearly formulated or planned intention (AIM) or the act or fact of intending : (PURPOSE) or the state of mind with which an act is done : (VOLITION)
    Any attorney and any Judge will tell you NO ONE can read minds to say one has INTENT while doing something demands the knowledge of one’s mind which no one is a mind reader thus that INTENT claims will be difficult to prove UNLESS it is obvious by the operators own words, actions etc which supplies the AIM-PURPOSE-and VOLITION

    IF one places a flight video on youtube showing their enjoyment and fun of that flight and submit it as a recreational flight for viewing pleasure it is NOT nor can be defined as Commercial…and even IF youtube places Ads or tries to monetize the video without the consent and knowledge of the creator, that also does not define the operator’s video as commercial and according to the FAA it would be the Businesses intent and that business ( youtube for instance ) that would be in violation NOT the creator of the video as it would then be in the furtherance of a business
    ( as per James at the FAA call center)
    Plus the fact the FAA can not mandate CBO membership nor FRIA only flying, as again the FAA CAN NOT force club membership or force payment to any CBO or private Club
    that would be like the Federal Government forcing the elderly to join the AARP or any gun owner be forced to join the NRA or the THOUSANDS of CBO’s that exist in every State…..it is NOT within their authority to do so ( another action that will be adjudicated in the courts)
    the FAA has indeed overstepped its authority in many areas, we all agree about the safety aspect, however, the FAA has never proven any safety violations that prompted this mass attack on the RC flying Hobby
    meanwhile, ultralight, paramotors, etc operate without the need of a license and they film and sell photo, videos without being fined or attacked for doing so and without tons of regulations…another part of the soon court cases I assume.

    the entire Drone speak is nonsense and the RC community as a whole has an almost spotless safety record and that needs to be promoted not condemned as the FAA and its propaganda machine has done.
    the FAA is NOT working with the RC Community as they claim and it is obvious with their implied mandates and warnings they are out to end the Hobby, not help incorporate it into their ranks

    Obvious big-money entities are buying the airspace and encouraging the destruction of the RC Hobby by regulating it to the point the normal US Citizen can not afford it or enjoy it and make no mistake those of you who think your AMA membership and Clubs are safe…..they will be eliminated over time as well
    Time you woke up and help fight this overreaching bureaucracy called the FAA and not succumb to their freedom destroying agenda in the name of safety or security which already exists within the RC community and has for nearly 100 years

    hundreds of years of Court cases have shown the Government/DoD/FAA/DHS that people and landowners have rights even to the immediate space above their property and the secret schemes to change the laws/rules to steal that is NOT going to work and the FAA does Not own the right nor has ever been granted the ultimate authority to deny it’s use by the owner in any manner they deem fit that means even flying aircraft-drones-toys in it

  45. Ali Maleki on December 8, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    Great explanation, Greg! If you’ve seen any of his videos you know that following the law isn’t a priority. Ive seen him fly at over 1,000 ft in the middle of a city after changing the default DJI limit of 398 ft.

  46. Luis Morales on December 8, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    Very informative. Thanks for clarifying the distinction between the exception for limited recreational flying and commercial flying under Part 107.

  47. dnml471 on December 8, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    I do agree monetized youtube should be part 107.

  48. dnml471 on December 8, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    I think you did a good job explaining the hobby exemptions, and yes my beef is with the FAA. They are choosing how to interpret the first clause – recreational. It’s pedantic. And they are defining recreational, yet the written text does not, they are internally. So the enforcement agency is setting the boundaries, and I’d prefer the courts set it through judicial precedent – just like 4th amendment cases. The police do not determine what is a "reasonable" search and seizure – courts do.

    Second, the part 107 test is great knowledge and I enjoyed learning and getting it. However, if the FAA is going to take a pedantic stance and insist on applying it to an extreme – then let’s make it more available. I had to go specifically to an aviation college’s testing department – not even the regular community college testing center (where I can take GRE, LSAT, etc…). And the cost was more than your normal standardized of professional tests. So, if we’re going to want more part 107 operations, make it more available.

    In regard to this case, I thought these were "proposed" fines. I wonder if there is a "plea bargain" process. And another question – when the FAA fines you, that is civil correct? So its a different legal process, and burden of proof, than criminal, no?


  49. tm22721 on December 8, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    So if I fly my private plane at 500 feet AGL, and fly my mini Talon 100 feet below me, I can go as far as I want (100 miles because that’s the limit of my mini Talon’s 4s5p battery) and still be legal and still not require the upcoming Remote Id on the mini Talon or even ADS-B on my private plane(as long as my private plane is not in class B or C airspace). I encourage all of you to get your private pilot’s license, sport pilot’s license or fly part 103(ultralight). Because we must all stay within the rules.

  50. Cleve Tidwell on December 8, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    Excellent Greg. Thanks

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