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Student ordered to destroy downloads

A graduate student who must pay four record labels a combined $US675,000 ($A740,537) in damages for downloading and sharing songs online has been ordered to destroy his illegal music files – but a judge declined to force him to stop promoting the activity that got him in trouble.

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Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University student from Providence, Rhode Island, was ordered to refrain from future copyright violations and to destroy copies of recordings he downloaded without authorisation.

Record companies wanted US District Judge Nancy Gertner to go further. They claimed Tenenbaum has been encouraging people to visit a Swedish web site where they can illegally download the songs he was sued for sharing.

Tenenbaum said he had nothing to do with the web site, and Gertner said she would not attempt to silence Tenenbaum’s criticism of the recording industry and copyright laws.

Tenenbaum said he was pleased.

“She said, look, this isn’t your business, he can say whatever he wants about the issue, he has First Amendment rights,” Tenenbaum said.

Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America, said the group was satisfied that the judge required Tenenbaum “to destroy all illegal music files and refrain from further theft of our music”.

‘Fair use’ defence rejected

In July, a federal jury in Boston ordered Tenenbaum to pay $US675,000 ($A740,537) to four record labels for downloading and distributing 30 songs.

Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, said that he plans to file a motion for a new trial by January 4.

In a separate memorandum released on Monday, Gertner described her reasons for rejecting Tenenbaum’s “fair use” defence before the case went to trial in July.

Fair use is a legal doctrine that recognises that the monopoly rights protected by copyright laws are not absolute. The doctrine holds that when someone uses a creative work in way that does not hurt the market for the original work and advances a public purpose – such as education or scholarship – it may be considered “fair” and not infringing.

Gertner said Tenenbaum acknowledged that a purpose of his song-sharing was so that his friends could enjoy the music – “that is, the very use for which the artist or copyright holder is entitled to expect payment as a reward”.

Copyright law ‘routinely threatens’ teens, students

Gertner said that although Tenenbaum’s case does not constitute fair use, she could envision a fair-use defence for someone who shared files only during a period before the law concerning file-sharing was clear and before legitimate download services were widely available. She urged Congress to consider changing copyright law. The judge wrote that “there is a deep potential for injustice in the Copyright Act as it is currently written”.

“There is something wrong with a law that routinely threatens teenagers and students with astronomical penalties for an activity whose implications they may not have fully understood,” Gertner added.

Duckworth said the industry disagrees with Gertner’s assessment.

“Judge Gertner’s hypothetical statements on fair use are not supported in the law, and courts have routinely rejected this theory since it would essentially strip copyright owners of the important right to control the use of their work,” Duckworth said.

“Regardless, it wouldn’t apply to Mr Tenenbaum, who admitted to illegally downloading music long after iTunes and other services emerged.”

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England hold lead in second Test

A century by opener Alastair Cook and a knock of 91 by Paul Collingwood put England in control of the second Test against South Africa at the Kingsmead Stadium in Durban.

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England hold a lead of 43 runs with two days to play.

England reached stumps on day three on 5-386 in reply to South Africa’s first-innings score of 343.

Cook was out for 118 shortly after tea when he edged Morne Morkel to second slip.

Cook, who turned 25 on Christmas Day, completed his 10th Test hundred during the second session. He had been under pressure to come good after a lean spell and he answered his critics in fine style, hitting 11 boundaries and lasting 401 minutes.

“It’s not so much pressure. It’s just that in the last few games the side has been playing really well and you feel like you’re being carried by your teammates,” he said.

Cook and Collingwood added 142 for the fourth wicket in 45.1 overs. The left-handed opener did not last long enough to see his side into the lead as he was fourth man out with the score on 297, but he was delighted with the discipline he showed as he built a patient innings.

Collingwood and Ian Bell put on 68 for the fifth wicket to nudge their side ahead.

Collingwood batted for nearly five hours but fell to offspinner J.P. Duminy, nicking a bottom edge to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher 9.1 overs before the close.

Bell was undefeated on 55. He will resume on Tuesday with Matt Prior, who is 11 not out.

The pick of the South African bowlers was paceman Morne Morkel, who finished the day with figures of 3-69.

Cook was given out on 64 caught at bat pad but successfully appealed to the third umpire, who ruled that the ball had not hit the bat.

Star batsman Kevin Pietersen (31) was trapped lbw by spinner Paul Harris when he missed an attempted sweep shot.

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Oslo prepares for Obama Nobel ceremony

American President Barack Obama is travelling to Norway today to receive his Nobel Peace Prize.

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His visit to Oslo has prompted the biggest security operation in Norway’s history.

About 2,500 police officers from all over the country have been deployed to Oslo and the Norwegian military has contributed support in the form of helicopters and sharpshooters.

Last week, city maintenance crews welded shut over 400 manholes in downtown Oslo, and police say they will remove all downtown litter bins on Wednesday afternoon to eliminate potential hiding places for bombs.

On Wednesday morning, Norwegian police guarded the Grand Hotel as hotel workers installed bulletproof glass to protect the president during Thursday evening’s procession.

Police, some armed with machine guns, also guarded City Hall, where the prize ceremony will take place.

The Justice Ministry is spending 92 million Norwegian Kroner ($A17.5 million) on the security.

Criticism

The announcement of Obama’s prize in October prompted a mixed reaction. The president said he was “humbled” by the award, but there was criticism from some that it had come too early in his presidency.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was honouring him “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Demonstrators in Oslo have already staged a candle-lit vigil outside the Grand Hotel to call on Obama to take stronger action on climate change.

The protestors vowed to shadow Obama at every stage of his visit to make sure he gets their message, which is that now he’s won the Peace Prize, he has to earn it.

Exhibition

Not far from Oslo’s City Hall, the Nobel Peace Centre has opened a special gallery packed with exhibits relating to the US leader.

The theme is “A Call to Action”… a quote from Obama’s acceptance speech for the prize.

The director of the museum, Bente Erichsen, says the exhibition reflects the controversy surrounding the decision to give the prize to Obama.

The displays include Obama memorabilia, as well as newspaper articles that were critical of the award.

At the same time, the gallery director stressed that it showed that the decision was in line with criteria set out in the will of Alfred Nobel, who endowed the prize.

Nobel said the prize should be awarded to the person who had done most to enhance peace, encourage disarmament and promote negotiations.

The exhibition also draws parallels between Obama and the black civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

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Branson on F1 racing budget

Billionaire Richard Branson will operate Virgin Racing next year in the Formula One and wil be left to work with the lowest budget out of all teams.

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The news came at the official unveiling of the new team and drivers Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock.

Tight budget

Under the slogan “A new team for a new era,” Virgin aims to challenge on the newly expanded 13-team grid with a budget of just STG40 million ($A71 million).

Virgin, which has secured the title sponsorship of the Manor team, joins four other new outfits on the grid for the 2010 season – Lotus, USF1, Campos and Sauber.

“The new era is seeing the costs of entry come down – this team will be the lowest-budget team in Formula One,” Branson said.

Money’s not everything

“Money’s not everything. They are determined to prove that via engineering prowess, great drivers and a great affinity with the public they can do well.”

Financial details of Virgin’s investment weren’t disclosed and Branson said his group’s main input would be providing use of a brand that is also attached to planes, trains and space travel.

The ten backers already signed up have funded the debut season.

History repeating

Branson, whose Virgin group backed Brawn GP in its debut season last year, accepts history won’t repeat with a double-championship winning success.

“But we have every chance of doing respectably well. This is the last 100 per cent owned British team and I think if Virgin hadn’t got involved I don’t think (Manor) would have happened.”

The launch epitomised the Virgin brand, with Branson arriving on stage at the chic Notting Hill venue with a dozen electric guitarists creating a sound akin to an F1 engine.

Di Grassi confirmed

He was joined by executives, including team principal Alex Tai, and the drivers. Glock, the former Toyota driver, had already announced he was joining the team, but official confirmation of Di Grassi’s F1 debut was made at the event.

Alvaro Parente and Luiz Razia will be test drivers.

Former Benetton F1 designer and Simtek team owner Nick Wirth is leading the technical operation, while Manor founder John Booth is the sporting director.

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UK hostage freed after two years

A British man abducted by Iraqi militants and held hostage for two and a half years has been freed, alive and remarkably well, the UK government says.

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Foreign Secretary David Miliband said computer consultant Peter Moore had been handed over to Iraqi authorities by his captors on Wednesday morning.

He is in good health, and being looked after at the British Embassy in Baghdad.

Moore, 36, is believed to be the only survivor of a group of five Britons abducted outside Iraq’s Finance Ministry in May 2007 by militants disguised as policemen.

Moore was taken along with his four British bodyguards.

“I have just had a very moving conversation with Peter himself,” Miliband said. He said Moore was “in a remarkable frame of mind” given his ordeal.

“He is obviously, to put it mildly, absolutely delighted at his release.”

Miliband said Moore would soon return home to Britain.

He said Britain had not made concessions to the hostage-takers, but would not say whether a deal had been done between the Iraqi government and the kidnappers.

He said Moore’s release was the result of the reconciliation process between Iraq’s government and armed groups willing to renounce violence.

“It is the result of some very hard work on the part of the Iraqi authorities,” Miliband said.

Moore’s father, Graeme, said the family was looking forward to having him back.

“We are so relieved and we just want to get him home, back now to his family and friends,” he said. “I’m breaking down, I’m just so overjoyed for the lad. It’s been such a long haul.”

Miliband called on the hostage-takers to release the body of Alan McMenemy, one of the four bodyguards kidnapped with Moore.

British officials said earlier this year that they believed McMenemy, 34, was dead, but have yet to identify his body.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Moore’s release was “wonderful news” but also demanded the return of McMenemy.

“We have believed for some time that he has been killed, and his family have been told our view of his likely fate,” Miliband said.

“I call today again in the strongest terms for the hostage-takers to return Alan’s body as soon as possible.”

The remains of the three other Britons – Alec MacLachlan, 30, Jason Swindlehurst, 38, and Jason Creswell, 39 – were returned to Britain earlier this year.

It is not clear how they died, although both Swindlehurst and Creswell had multiple gunshot wounds.

“For Peter’s family, the pain and the anguish is over. For the other families it endures,” Miliband said.

Hopes for Moore’s release grew after the militant group behind the kidnapping, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, promised in August to lay down its weapons and join the political process.

British authorities have not said how they communicated with the kidnappers, but have received information about the hostages over the years.

A videotape showing Moore in reasonable health was delivered to the British Embassy in Baghdad in March, and British officials have said since then they believed he was still alive.

The four security contractors worked for Canadian security company GardaWorld protecting Moore, an IT consultant working for BearingPoint, a US-based management consulting firm.

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Not happy Bruno: Palestinian sues over terrorist claims

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Document” name=”ProgId”>A Palestinian shopkeeper and father portrayed as a terrorist in the movie Bruno is suing film star Sacha Baron Cohen, talk show host David Letterman and others for libel and slander.

The lawsuit filed last week by Ayman Abu Aita in federal court seeks $US110 million ($A121 million) in damages.

In the movie, Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion journalist trying to make it big in the United States.

Misrepresentation claims

To achieve worldwide fame, Bruno travels to the Middle East to make peace. He interviews Abu Aita, and a caption labels the Bethlehem shopkeeper as a member of the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade.

Abu Aita is suing CBS and Letterman’s company Worldwide Pants over an interview before the film’s release where the Late Show host and Cohen discussed Bruno’s encounter with a “terrorist.”

In the interview, Cohen, 37, said he set up the meeting in the West Bank with the help of a CIA agent. Cohen said he feared for his safety and interviewed the “terrorist” at a secret location chosen by Abu Aita. A clip was then played on The Late Show with David Letterman.

According to the lawsuit, however, the interview with Abu Aita took place at a hotel chosen by Cohen and located in a part of the West Bank that was under Israeli military control.

Film distributor NBC Universal and director Larry Charles are also named in the lawsuit.

A spokeswoman for Universal Studios declined to comment. Tom Keaney, a spokesman for David Letterman, also said he would not comment.

Multiple lawsuits

Cohen, a British comedian, also faced multiple lawsuits after his earlier movie, Borat, including one for $US30 million ($A33 million) filed by residents of a remote Romanian village who said they were misled into thinking the project was a documentary about poverty. Most of the lawsuits were thrown out.

Abu Aita is prominent businessman, a Christian and a “peace-loving person who abhors violence,” the latest lawsuit states. Before the film, he “enjoyed a good reputation for honesty and a peaceable nature” in his community, Abu Aita’s lawyers wrote.

They go on to write that any accusations or insinuations that Abu Aita is or ever was associated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, or any other terrorist activity is “utterly false and untrue.”

A person’s dignity

Lawyer Joseph Peter Drennan said Abu Aita was never offered a release to sign to appear in the film.

“This is an important lawsuit because it is about the dignity of a specific person. It is about his reputation, about his standing in the community,” Drennan said.

“It addresses a very corrosive and calumnious slur against any young Palestinian who could be a political activist on the West Bank” who would be called a “terrorist” because of his activism.

Hatem Abu Ahmad, Abu Aita’s Arab-Israeli lawyer, said Cohen made millions “on the back of my client.”

The film drew disdain from the Israelis and Palestinians portrayed in a place Bruno calls “Middle Earth.”

Drennan said he expects a hearing on the Abu Aita’s complaint in late January.

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Severed heads found in Mexican plaza

The heads were found on Wednesday in the township of Cuencame, in the northern Mexican state of Durango.

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The gruesome discovery came a day after the officers were reported kidnapped, state prosecutors’ spokesman Ruben Lopez said.

Beheadings are a hallmark of Mexico’s brutal drug gang violence.

Durango, a mountainous, largely rural state, is a major battleground for drug trafficking territory.

In Tijuana, meanwhile, the bodies of three young men were found in one neighbourhood. A fourth body was found outside a hospital, and a fifth – whose hands and feet were bound – was found dumped near a gas station.

On Tuesday, 12 bodies were found in Tijuana, including four that had been decapitated and four men killed in a shootout at a popular seafood restaurant.

Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, has seen over 590 deaths in violence apparently related to drug disputes this year.

Nationwide, more than 14,000 people have died in drug gang violence since President Felipe Calderon sent troops and federal police to fight cartels three years ago.

In Calderon’s home state of Michoacan, federal police arrested a leader of La Familia drug cartel suspected in several shooting and grenade attacks against police, including a December 9 shooting that killed one officer.

The suspect, Antonio Chavez Andrade, also known as “the Nephew,” told investigators the cartel had stepped up attacks against federal police because recent crackdowns were hurting La Familia’s operational and economic capabilities, according to a statement from the federal Public Safety Secretary.

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India creates new state

India’s federal government has agreed to create a new state in the southern province of Andhra Pradesh after days of violent protests and a hunger strike by a senior local politician.

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Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram made the announcement of the creation of Telangana state late on Wednesday after a series of meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the top elected official of Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister K Rosaiah.

The Telangana region is spread over 10 north and northwestern districts of Andhra Pradesh and demands for a separate state have erupted sporadically since the 1950s.

The people of Telangana speak the same Telugu language as the rest of Andhra Pradesh but say their region has faced years of neglect by the state government.

Angry protesters took to the streets 11 days ago and threatened to storm the state legislature after senior regional politician K Chandrasekhara Rao went on a hunger strike. The protesters clashed with police, who used batons to beat them back.

“The process of forming the state of Telangana will be initiated. An appropriate resolution will be moved in the state assembly,” Chidambaram, the home minister, said.

Rao called off his hunger strike soon after the announcement.It was not immediately clear when the new state would come into being.

For a new state to be created, Indian law requires a resolution to be passed by the state legislature after which a bill to amend the federal constitution has to be passed by a two-thirds majority in the national Parliament.

Hundreds of Telangana supporters on Thursday celebrated the announcement with firecrackers and music.

Several parts of India – the Bundelkhand region in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha in the western Maharashtra state and Gorkhaland in the eastern West Bengal state – also face similar movements, but so far there have been no moves by the government to

create separate states there.

India currently has 28 states and seven federally administered regions.

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Nuclear talks bogged down

Negotiations with Russia to replace an expired Cold War-era arms control treaty have bogged down and appear unlikely to be concluded by the end of the year as the White House had hoped.

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As the two sides seek a breakthrough, US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, plan to discuss the nuclear negotiations in a meeting on Friday on the sidelines of United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. The two leaders are not expected to seal a deal.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, say negotiations with Russia to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) have become hung up on a disagreement about how to monitor the development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Obama and Medvedev initially had instructed negotiators to seek a fully ratified deal by the December 5 expiration of START. Recently Obama had expressed hopes that a deal could be completed by the end of this year.

The Obama administration has sought to make the negotiations a vehicle for demonstrating improved relations with Russia. They hope that greater cooperation on arms control can lead to Russian help on stickier issues including efforts to rein in Iran’s suspected nuclear ambitions.

Continuing negotiations

Officials said US negotiators would continue working with their Russian counterparts on the treaty through the weekend in Geneva after the meeting of the two presidents. Top negotiators may pause for the Christmas holidays, however.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed disagreements standing in the way of a deal

Lavrov blamed the US delegation for slowing negotiations in the past few days. He told reporters in Moscow that the talks have now resumed their pace, but a deal is unlikely to be reached in time for Obama and Medvedev to sign it when they attend the climate summit in Copenhagen on Friday. He urged the United States to accept deeper cuts and less intrusive verification measures.

US officials said Russian negotiators were seeking changes from the original treaty on the encryption of missile flight data. The now-expired treaty banned such encryption so that each side could monitor missile tests from a distance.

Using such data, monitors could determine whether the other side was developing missiles restricted by the treaty.

Treaty changes

The expired START pact, signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George HW Bush, required each country to cut its nuclear warheads by at least one-fourth, to about 6,000, and to implement procedures for verifying that each side was sticking to the agreement.

Obama and Medvedev agreed at a Moscow summit in July to cut the number of nuclear warheads that each possesses to between 1,500 and 1,675 within seven years as part of a broad new treaty.

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Clashes as Yemen raids al-Qaeda hideout

Yemeni forces raided an al-Qaeda hideout and set off a gunbattle on Wednesday as the government vowed to eliminate the group that claimed it was behind the Christmas bombing attempt on a US aeroplane.

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The fighting took place in an al-Qaeda stronghold in western Yemen, haven for a group that attacked the US embassy here in 2008, killing 10 Yemeni guards and four civilians. A government statement said at least one suspected militant was arrested during the clashes.

“The (Interior) Ministry will continue tracking down al-Qaeda terrorists and will continue its strikes against the group until it is totally eliminated,” Deputy Interior Minister Brig Gen Saleh al-Zawari told senior military officials at a meeting in Mareb, another province believed to shelter al-Qaeda fighters.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s group, claimed it was behind the attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner.

Al-Qaeda ‘trained plotter’

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old passenger, was arrested on Friday after he allegedly tried to bring down the Northwest Airlines flight, carrying 289 people.

US investigators said Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

Yemen’s government has said Abdulmutallab spent two periods in the country, from 2004-2005 and from August to December of this year, just before the attempted attack.

Abdulmutallab’s Yemen connection has drawn attention to al-Qaeda’s growing presence in the impoverished and lawless country, which is located on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia.

Wednesday’s clashes took place in Hudaydah province, an al-Qaeda stronghold along the Red Sea coast. A security official said the target was a house owned by an al-Qaeda sympathiser.

The official said the owner was arrested, a suspected al-Qaeda member was injured and several militants who fled were being pursued. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Militants killed

Before Wednesday’s clashes, Yemeni forces backed by US intelligence carried out two major strikes against al-Qaeda hideouts this month, reportedly killing more than 60 militants.

The US has increasingly provided intelligence, surveillance and training to Yemeni forces during the past year, and has provided some firepower, according to a senior US defence official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the subject.

Defence Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said Yemen received $US67 million ($A75 million) in training and support under the Pentagon’s counterterrorism program last year, second only to some $US112 million ($A125.43 million) spent in Pakistan.

He said the program was not a new one.

“We are going to work with allies and partners to seek out terrorist activity, al-Qaeda, wherever they operate, plan their operations, seek safe harbour,” he said. “This is an effort that is years old now.”

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