When is a group buy ...

dennis63

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Not sure if there is anything official or formal here at PCF yet.
 

sat guru

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And there might not need to be. Just interested in opinions if any one wants to share theirs.
 

BGinGA

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Not sure we need formal group buy rules. But a group buy 'definition' in the glossary is probably a good idea. I'll weigh in with my opinion later, so as to not sway any others or lead the discussion.
 

atomiktoaster

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I started to write an original response, but it wasn't coming together. I'll just copy the earlier response from @dennis63 and comment on his guidelines:

1. I'd suggest that our group buys have a "commitment date," after which you can't cancel, disappear, or change your member name to avoid paying.

2. Ordering in a group buy is a commitment. When you make it, recognize you are giving your word to complete the transaction.

3. There should be a limit to the number of times a participant can change their order while the group buy is active.

If at all possible, collect orders until you are ready to pay the vendor, collect all the paypal money (cost+shipping), get all the addresses and then pay the vendor. One cutoff, at most two contacts needed (once for the interest, once to pay and give all the information necessary for delivery). As long as the minimum isn't super tight, that works fine. If the organizer can't get payment from somebody, either cover them at the risk of being stuck with their order, or cancel them with a few days notice minimum.

4. I'd suggest having a "rating system" for members who take part in group buys, and limiting the number of group buys a member can participate in at one time until they have an "A" rating. One person trying to buy in six different group buys can lead us back to the problem in # 1.

Organizer has the right to refuse someone they think will be flaky, but if you follow the first guideline it's not an issue.

5. The organizers should definitely be rated or have some strict qualifications, so we can avoid scams.

Caveat emptor? A ratings system would be nice, but sane people don't repeat a whole lot of these things...

6. Anyone organizing a group buy should understand that they may be asked to produce proof of the group's expenses -- costs, shipping, etc.

7. Organizers should not be allowed to make any money from the group buy. While this sounds pretty basic, I'm sure it's been done elsewhere. The cost to buy or produce the item has to be shared among the members in the buy, or the price per item based on the total cost / number of items.

Sounds right. I think organizers deserve to avoid taking a loss, even on things that don't always get taken into account like shipping from the manufacturer, packing tape, printing labels, possibly replacing a lost package. $2 per person or 3% of the order seems reasonable as a cap on expected profit. Nobody makes a business out of that, but you avoid feeling screwed out of time and money.

7. Members taking part in a group buy should pay for shipping and Paypal fees. (I recall a past group buy on Chiptalk where a member (not me) bought 30,000 chips from BCC and got stuck with the cost of Paypal fees -- international at that.) The organizer is another member, not a business, and can't "eat" over 3 percent of the cost of everyone's stuff. I would suggest a rule that says, "If you order $500 in chips, and send the organizer $500 via paypal (net $484.90), you have just cancelled your order."

Sounds good to me.

8. No torpedoing allowed: I coined this term. If I'm running a group buy for some chips, another member -- who is also running a group buy for some other chips -- posts negative and inaccurate information in my group buy to convince people to back out of my group. He launches a "torpedo" into my group buy, usually in the form of a "question." (Aren't those chips you're selling actually radioactive? ) A member who does this should have his own group buy closed.

Seems unusual to have competing group buys like this lately.

9. There should be some clear rules about whether a merchant (like me) can organize a group buy for anything they might actually later sell in their business. If so, the merchant should provide the goods to the group at the true production cost. We may want to avoid this altogether.

My other suggestions are more about manners than anything we could make as a rule.

Group buy piracy, or "I don't want to buy. I just want to tell you what to buy." Don't get on board, demand changes in the project, then not buy the resulting chip, button, shirt, whatever.

Hang up the "Internet attitude - " Saying, "Hey, Organizer: Have it on time at the quoted price. Any delays or price changes and I'll be complaining about your awful "customer service." (Most organizers aren't businesses.)

Good points here as well. Somewhat related to 9 is the issue of split flat fees. Should all members be able to reorder a button when a flat fee has been paid for the art? What about adding on to a chip set? What if someone new comes along and wants to do a second order? Are they SOL, or can the organizer charge a fee for that, or does the new person just get the art for free? It seems like the answer would be different for someone ordering a set of Majestics from Apache, vs. someone who wanted to order a 300 piece cash set of Iron Bank chips when @stocky gets the art from J5. Why that's different and how to make the rules reflect it is an interesting question.
 

BGinGA

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Aren't those chips you're selling actually radioactive?
Still not ready to reply, but ^this^ was too good to pass up. Didn't realize you were so funny, Dennis. :LOL: :laugh:
 

stocky

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someone who wanted to order a 300 piece cash set of Iron Bank chips when @stocky gets the art from J5. Why that's different and how to make the rules reflect it is an interesting question.
I know my situation is quite different but I was planning to charge an art fee to anyone who wished to purchase a set through CPC. I've paid for all the art out of my pocket. It's never been added to any samples (db or CPC) and I never expect to recuperate all the money I've paid for art. My main plan was to put any money I received towards new art for any add ons or cash set etc. and anyone who had paid the flat fee would be given the use of any art made for the set to remake more DBs or cut cards etc.
 

atomiktoaster

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Sounds reasonable. What about the $35 art fee for the pinup buttons that I charged to the members? Who should be able to use that art for new buttons, or ceramic show em chips?
 

stocky

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Sounds reasonable. What about the $35 art fee for the pinup buttons that I charged to the members? Who should be able to use that art for new buttons, or ceramic show em chips?
Who charged the art fee? And was it split per button?

I personally would charge anyone wanting a new button the same the others were charged abs send it to the artist. If you were the artist I see no issue in receiving some compensation. In this case we are talking cents not dollars really.
 

atomiktoaster

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Who charged the art fee? And was it split per button?

I personally would charge anyone wanting a new button the same the others were charged abs send it to the artist. If you were the artist I see no issue in receiving some compensation. In this case we are talking cents not dollars really.
GOCC charged it for color correction, and I split it per button (roughly, by rounding up and estimating the order total and not updating for the actual total). It's a tiny amount overall, but it would have grown with each order.

I don't think anyone would have a problem with how I handled it, but a strict "not for profit" rule might disallow it.
 

stocky

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Something like that could be handled a few different ways depending on how much it was more per button.

If we are talking cents and I was involved in the GB I would personally not mind if others got it a little cheaper.

If it was a significant amount there's a couple of options.
1. Make it a one off group buy. Sucks that no one else will be able to get one but you snooze you lose.
2. Charge x amount per new button and reimburse the original GB participants.
3. New participants get it at the new cost price. Sometimes a GB is a gamble. Getting in early doesn't always mean getting it cheaper.
 

atomiktoaster

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Something like that could be handled a few different ways depending on how much it was more per button.

If we are talking cents and I was involved in the GB I would personally not mind if others got it a little cheaper.

If it was a significant amount there's a couple of options.
1. Make it a one off group buy. Sucks that no one else will be able to get one but you snooze you lose.
2. Charge x amount per new button and reimburse the original GB participants.
3. New participants get it at the new cost price. Sometimes a GB is a gamble. Getting in early doesn't always mean getting it cheaper.
It was about a dollar per button, but it coincided with the GOCC summer sale to keep the price about the same as usual. I'd lean toward releasing the art as a donation from part of the community to the entire community, especially for a new embodiment like chips or plaques. Maybe a 6 month moratorium on exact duplicates, to avoid people intentionally free riding and keep some resale value for the original buyers?
 

manamongkids

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3. New participants get it at the new cost price. Sometimes a GB is a gamble. Getting in early doesn't always mean getting it cheaper.
Agree with this one, we are all referencing the same "GB" situation that prompted this thread. It was/is is a confusing topic.

The "GB" in question could have easily been a flop (not saying it had a high chance, because it seemed to be executed with great detail), but the overall communities response was an outstanding ovation to the "GB" effort.

I'm a little torn on the subject myself, I see little by little people removing their orders because they feel semi-duped by this being setup as a "GB" where it seems to be a for-profit venture. Not that I am privileged to the information, but i'd be curious what the overall net gain is in dollar amount.

Definitely a weird situation, I can see all sides of the story:
-Community helped chipper make his minimum for a fantastic chip
-It was thought, the chipper would run a "GB" rerun on the product, sharing some of the savings with the community
-Running a "GB" is a lot of work
-Without original "GB", these chips might not be available to the chipper
-"GB" turned out to be a for-profit venture

My heads spinning, I guess at the end of the day, if community wants these exact chips/plaques, they will go ahead and purchase from the "GB". If they feel morally wrong about the situation, they can sit this one out or try to organize a similar GB of their own.
 

sat guru

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Not that I am privileged to the information, but i'd be curious what the overall net gain is in dollar amount.
@manamongkids: All costs aren't completely public or knowable at this stage, but make a few reasonable assumptions (primarily around shipping to US, and shipping via USPS to members (paid by vendor)), rework a spreadsheet, and well, sumtimes maff actually is easy: LINK.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't write about it, but focusing on the "same 'GB' situation" derails my original enquiry as the marketplace (PCF community and mods) is responding to that vendor's offerings as they see fit. Yay capitalism! Caveat emptor and all that. Personally, I have no interest in talking about those offerings as peeps can/should read that vendor's threads and draw their own conclusions: Those threads may even be the best place to discuss those offerings.


I'm interested in reading the diverse thoughts on GBs in general.
 

Poker Zombie

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I agree we don't want to derail what could be an important thread, but manamongkids touches on a valid subject. I think that the possibility of a profit here spurred the 2nd GB, and the 20s GB that manamongkids referenced. If these policies were already in place, this may not have happened, but Tommy has pretty much run this site like a friendly gathering place and friends rarely need rules to regulate behavior. Since this particular GB turned from GB to for-profit, it rubbed some people the wrong way.

So it is important to emphasize the importance of this thread. Let's set some ground rules to prevent disgruntled PCFers.

While zero-profit is honorable, I have no issue with a GB organizer snapping off a little something. The artist can profit, cant they? What if an artist ran a GB (not that P5 has time to do anything but draw art for all of us, but what if)? a 3% (or more easily calculable 5%) profit cap feels fair, as time, energy, packing materials, and headache factor should amount to something. I'd even like to see hijacking possible (you'll make a US currency for $3 profit per? I'll offer to do the same for $2!), provided it doesn't upset the apple cart.
 

atomiktoaster

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I agree we don't want to derail what could be an important thread, but manamongkids touches on a valid subject. I think that the possibility of a profit here spurred the 2nd GB, and the 20s GB that manamongkids referenced. If these policies were already in place, this may not have happened, but Tommy has pretty much run this site like a friendly gathering place and friends rarely need rules to regulate behavior. Since this particular GB turned from GB to for-profit, it rubbed some people the wrong way.

So it is important to emphasize the importance of this thread. Let's set some ground rules to prevent disgruntled PCFers.

While zero-profit is honorable, I have no issue with a GB organizer snapping off a little something. The artist can profit, cant they? What if an artist ran a GB (not that P5 has time to do anything but draw art for all of us, but what if)? a 3% (or more easily calculable 5%) profit cap feels fair, as time, energy, packing materials, and headache factor should amount to something. I'd even like to see hijacking possible (you'll make a US currency for $3 profit per? I'll offer to do the same for $2!), provided it doesn't upset the apple cart.
I've done art for button group buys (Garden City, Par-a-Dice, Point Defiance) and always viewed it as a volunteer effort. It feels a little close to a kickstarter-type endeavor to do it with an art fee for the organizer, which is fine, but might not fall under the GB heading.

I think there's always going to be a huge gap between what a GB organizer's time is actually worth, and what's a far amount to pay as a GB member. Even at minimum wage, a typical group buy can't pay for an organizer's time. You have to view the time as a volunteer effort and the group buy funding should just cover the actual costs plus a small margin so the organizer is definitely not taking a loss (even for stuff like gas to the post office or an extra roll of packing tape).
 

sat guru

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@Poker Zombie - great points and very worthy of discussion.

I have no interest in this devolving into something unconstructive. Not that anyone has gone there, but if someone starts to, I'd like to thwart it early.
 

atomiktoaster

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@Poker Zombie - great points and very worthy of discussion.

I have no interest in this devolving into something unconstructive. Not that anyone has gone there, but if someone starts to, I'd like to thwart it early.
We don't need to get in the middle of ongoing business, IMO. There's plenty of examples we can use from completed group buys to get to something that will help going forward.
 

Poker Zombie

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Past GB - Over on Blue, there was a GB that wasn't a GB. The CPS chips. It started as a GB, fell apart, and was revived (almost immediately) by Palm. They ran it from the start as a (barely) for-profit venture. The only one to make out like a bandit was the artist, who demanded more money when Buttons felts and more were discussed, which ticked off the vendor that was working for far less and doing far, far more (That GB for anyone new, ran close to 400,000 chips (see @BGinGA for accurate numbers).

I would hate to see other massive opportunities lost because a master negotiator was no longer willing to work so hard and watch someone who worked far less make all the profit.

Note: I am not against artists making money either. I've worked a few designs for others and find the artist's task difficult, as revision after revision takes a ton of time - especially if you cannot get them to just sit down at the table with you. 20 different voices all wanting 40 different things in a GB deserves something, but again, I feel it shouldn't be a ton. GB flat fee or something. Perhaps a GB flat fee for the organizer as well?
 

atomiktoaster

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Past GB - Over on Blue, there was a GB that wasn't a GB. The CPS chips. It started as a GB, fell apart, and was revived (almost immediately) by Palm. They ran it from the start as a (barely) for-profit venture. The only one to make out like a bandit was the artist, who demanded more money when Buttons felts and more were discussed, which ticked off the vendor that was working for far less and doing far, far more (That GB for anyone new, ran close to 400,000 chips (see @BGinGA for accurate numbers).

I would hate to see other massive opportunities lost because a master negotiator was no longer willing to work so hard and watch someone who worked far less make all the profit.

Note: I am not against artists making money either. I've worked a few designs for others and find the artist's task difficult, as revision after revision takes a ton of time - especially if you cannot get them to just sit down at the table with you. 20 different voices all wanting 40 different things in a GB deserves something, but again, I feel it shouldn't be a ton. GB flat fee or something. Perhaps a GB flat fee for the organizer as well?
Per piece royalties for art are hard to justify, IMO. I think in most cases a flat fee / fee per hour structure makes more sense. In the case of CPS, in my understanding the arts rights are retained by the artist, and the fees are per item licenses. Partly because of that structure, we still don't have CPS buttons or cards... That would make me reluctant to do something similar going forward.
 

BGinGA

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The only one to make out like a bandit was the artist, who demanded more money when Buttons felts and more were discussed, which ticked off the vendor that was working for far less and doing far, far more (That GB for anyone new, ran close to 400,000 chips (see @BGinGA for accurate numbers).

I would hate to see other massive opportunities lost because a master negotiator was no longer willing to work so hard and watch someone who worked far less make all the profit.
I just wanted to interject here before a bunch of unwarranted tubby-bashing began..... Zombie's comments above are not accurate.

The artist didn't demand more money, he merely wanted to uphold the original deal that was struck with the vendor (and I'd hardly call it 'making out like a bandit', especially knowing how many hours of work went into all of those designs). And I'll argue hard and long that both the artist and the group buy organizer (me) worked far harder than PGI during the course of that group buy (well over a year), and for a much smaller payout (zero, in my case). In addition, the artist planned on returning some of his earned fees to the other four original group organizers as compensation for their hard work that set the stage for the eventual group buy...... and he was under absolutely no obligation to do so.

No offense, zombie, but you don't know as much about that group buy as you think. PGI did very well financially, and attempted to put the screws on to increase profits even further. Put the blame where it belongs.
 

dennis63

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Still not ready to reply, but ^this^ was too good to pass up. Didn't realize you were so funny, Dennis. :LOL: :laugh:
I've actually had a post like the "radioactive question" elsewhere.

I really wish we didn't need any rules. A group buy is meant to be really simple -- people pool their orders to buy in quantity. They all save money or get something they couldn't do alone. The organizer and members watch out for one another.

Simple, right?

I think you could "boil down" the rules to just two:

1. Organizers must be open about the costs and can't make a profit by running the group buy.
2. Members who commit to buy should pay on time and can't back out after a commitment date.

If everyone followed these two rules, most of the other issues go away. What remains can be negotiated among the members and organizer -- sharing one-time fees, what happens later if someone wants more, etc.
 
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atomiktoaster

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I've actually had a post like the "radioactive question" elsewhere.

I really wish we didn't need any rules. A group buy is meant to be really simple -- people pool their orders to buy in quantity. They all save money or get something they couldn't do alone. The organizer and members watch out for one another.

Simple, right?

I think you could "boil down" the rules to just two:

1. Organizers must be open about the costs and can't make a profit by running the group buy.
2. Members who commit to buy should pay on time and can't back out after a commitment date.

If everyone followed these two rules, most of the other issues go away.
The ownership of intangible assets issue remains though (and it's not specific to just one GB).

When a group buy involves offsetting a fixed cost, who is eligible to: A) use the asset in the future B) gain a profit from the future use of the asset?

Let's consider 1. the group buy organizer, 2. the group buy members, 3. third parties

For USE, organizers and members seem reasonable to me, although we rarely take steps to ensure that members actually have the assets available if the organizer disappears. Third parties seems to fit with the spirit of PCF (we're pretty generous, I think) but has obvious free rider issues if it becomes commonplace.

For PROFITING, it seems unfair for the organizer to exclusively gain from an asset that they only paid a small share toward. It's also very awkward to redistribute tiny profit shares to all the original members. Maybe the best option is to charge third parties an equivalent price but to direct the profits somewhere agreeable beneficial (gratuity for the artist or organizer perhaps, but maybe also server time for PCF, extra orders for raffles, or a donation to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders).
 

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I just wanted to interject here before a bunch of unwarranted tubby-bashing began..... Zombie's comments above are not accurate.

The artist didn't demand more money, he merely wanted to uphold the original deal that was struck with the vendor (and I'd hardly call it 'making out like a bandit', especially knowing how many hours of work went into all of those designs). And I'll argue hard and long that both the artist and the group buy organizer (me) worked far harder than PGI during the course of that group buy (well over a year), and for a much smaller payout (zero, in my case). In addition, the artist planned on returning some of his earned fees to the other four original group organizers as compensation for their hard work that set the stage for the eventual group buy...... and he was under absolutely no obligation to do so.

No offense, zombie, but you don't know as much about that group buy as you think. PGI did very well financially, and attempted to put the screws on to increase profits even further. Put the blame where it belongs.
No offence taken. I had almost added in my previous post "if the information I received is accurate". I intentionally did not mention the artist by name, because a) everyone that was following the CPS buy is aware of what transpired between PGI and the artist, and b) I think that the artist is still a good guy - I've even recommended him (back in the CT days) for people who requested artwork that was above my skill level.

As for the demand; the artist claimed he was just trying to negotiate for a bigger slice of the add-ons, like any good business man. That is where I think we should look when it comes to GBs. When is it a community working together to get something that would otherwise be out of reach, and when is it a business? I never see artists listed as "Site Vendors", but they clearly make a profit from their participation on the site, so why should they be above the for-profit rules? At the same time, I think their involvement is crucial to custom chip sets, which in turn is why CPC is back in business today (well, that, and their ability to answer tens of emails per day), so if giving them a cut keeps them around then so be it. So if time and effort is to be rewarded, I think the organizer should get something, the artist should get something, and the community should see a savings for a volume purchase.

I have more thoughts on this topic still, but will leave it at this for now.
 

sat guru

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Interesting thoughts as a lot of the above (to me) relates to transparency and clear understanding (once a potential GB participant has the information, then they can decide to join the GB or not) so I borrowed from above and expanded on that theme. It's an interesting matrix of aligned yet competing interests and expectations.

Here's an incomplete aggregation of some questions/thoughts that have been raised or could be discussed:

  1. GB initiator's and participants expectations
    1. Not a "vendor"
    2. Who "owns" the GB?
    3. Clear communication
    4. Open communication
    5. Weekly updates
    6. Geographic scope of GB participants
    7. Exclusivity/scope of participation
    8. Get it hashed out before money gets exchanged
  2. Creative Ownership:
    1. How will the person(s) who created the concept be rewarded?
    2. How will the artist be compensated? (Hourly v. something else.)
    3. Who owns the art?
    4. Are the GB'ers paying a "royalty" or "buying" Art? (This drives the subsequent availability and "royalty" question.)
      1. Royalty: Arguably owner(s) can charge whatever they like on subsequent GBs and make art available as they see fit for what ever fee they want
      2. Availability: How will it be made available again (participants or non-participants) and what will the "royalty" be per unit or per use
  3. Interest/Commitment:
    1. Clear commitment timeline, with specific time period in which to pay
    2. Complete funds provided in-full pre-order or automatically cancelled
  4. First Round Participant Risk:
    1. Should subsequent GB participants be required to pay a premium?
    2. If yes, how is that premium allocated? (If there's not too many to people it's really easy to do this in this day and age.)
  5. Cost:
    1. Clear accounting on actual related costs that are part of the GB: e.g. Google Sheets (and equivalents)
    2. Compensation for time and effort: How is the person running GB to be compensated for his time (either $ or goods), if at all?
    3. How are unforeseen or unanticipated costs allocated (e.g. import duties) after the GB has been paid for?
    4. Paypal expenses and awareness of Paypal investigatory thresholds
    5. Shipping
  6. Future expectations:
    1. Will there be more akshun on the GB?
    2. On related items?
    3. Exceptions?
I'm sure we are missing a tonne of things, so what do you think they are?
 

Poker Zombie

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First Round Participant Risk:
  1. Should subsequent GB participants be required to pay a premium?
  2. If yes, how is that premium allocated? (If there's not too many to people it's really easy to do this in this day and age.)
How often has a GB ever gone a 2nd round? Once that I know of, and it is said that in that one the order went in before the deadline. This creates a situation (combined with excellent product quality) where it was in the best interest for the organizer to cut it off early, and then run a for-profit venture if enough requests join in on the next "GB".

I'm not saying that was the intent, but it is a situation that needs to be addressed so intentional similar behavior is not financially encouraged.
 

Poker Zombie

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As for creative ownership, I think the artists should weigh in here, but I feel the rights to replicate the art should belong to the entire group, provided it is used for other poker or gaming related supplies, and those supplies are made available as a GB here on PCF. Artists that supply art for GBs should be made aware that future use may occur, at no additional fee, so artists (or their beneficiaries) cannot hold up additional products.
 
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