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I need some help in filtering out (brute force replace is ok) these ilegal characters.
So, for instance:
<title>The Big Book of <XML> & &agrave;cc&eacute;nted char&agrave;ct&egrave;rs</title>
<title><![CDATA[The Big Book of <XML> & àccénted charàctèrs]]></title>
the CDATA is a far better solution
Unless you know that the user-entered data is safe, like it's only EVER going to be an integer or alphanumeric string, then treat it as CDATA and encapsulate it accordingly.