USA/KSA: America is a Rule-Based Society

This past weekend an individual was apprehended and taken to a local police station for making a video of the movie he was watching in the movie theatre.  This is not only against local law but is prohibited by Federal Law.  The individual apprehended was an Arab on a visitor’s visa.  His exact fate at this time is not known.

Like Saudi Arabia, there is little enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in his home country.  He did not seem to realize the severe consequences of his actions in the movie theatre here in America.  It’s doubtful he will simply get off with just a “hand slap” and a warning.  He may have to pay a large fine and/or jail time.  He does not have diplomatic immunity.

In Saudi Arabia there are many places one can go and purchase pirated videos.  One can even purchase pirated videos openly on some streets in all of the major cities.

Saudi Arabia has intellectual property guidelines  and enables Saudi authorities to impose numerous sanctions for the production of counterfeit products or unlicensed copies of products, which include, inter alia, seizure and destruction of such products, imposing monetary fined up to SR 100,000 for violation of the provisions of the regulations.  Following pressure from the US Special Trade Representative Office, Saudi Arabia issued its Copyright Regulations in 1989. These Regulations are fairly limited in scope in that they fail to protect foreign copyrights. Also the Regulations do not address enforcement or registration procedures.    

As a result of the more lenient regulations in Saudi Arabia, a new arrival to the United States may not be aware that the United States has strict regulations which are enforced.  Offenders can be charged with a misdemeanor which can come with a one year prison term plus steep fine or a felony which has a five year prison term plus even steeper fine.

Unlike Saudi Arabia the US legal system does not work on WASTA.  Further more, US law enforcement officials may even take a tougher stance against a foreigner who may appear blasé or seem to have little regard for following the law.

It is important for any visitor, whether from Saudi Arabia or another foreign country, to become familiar with the laws of American if spending time there.


19 Responses

  1. There is plenty of piracy here in the US. The pirates just keep a lower profile than this individual did, as they know that they’d get in trouble for making a video of a film.
    But, if his family is connected, State will be getting some calls. If his family has the royal ear, this will simply get swept under the rug, rather than risk a tit for tat diplomatic game with each other’s nationals.

  2. According to my understanding of US law, there is Presidential pardon, even if the man been convicted, he can apply for the pardon. But His chance of receiving the pardon may be better if he was ‘white’, as it well known that white people receive better treatment as far as pardon is concerned. I wish him all the best.

  3. Snowman, pardons are largely given, as in 99.9%, to convicts. Not the accused. Indeed, the last pardon I recall of someone who was not convicted was Nixon.
    As for “better if he was “white””, check your facts some time. Most of the pardons have been for people of all races, not only for white people. Please join us in the 21st century!
    Or at least learn about REALITY AND FACTS before you spout off falsehood.

  4. The United States on Monday/yesterday put on its “priority watch list” Bakistan at the very top, along with Russia, China India, Argentina, and Canada, Algeria, Chile, Indonesia, Israel, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela. It’s an annual “ritual” list of trading partners with the worst records of preventing theft of copyrighted material and failure to protect other intellectual property rights (IPR), the US Trade Representative said in the newly released report:

    “This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent US Government data showing that IP-intensive industries support as many as 40 million American jobs and up to 60 percent of US exports,” US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in his message accompanying the report.

    Surprisingly, the priority watch list, however, carries no threat of sanctions, but hopes to shame governments into cracking down on piracy and counterfeiting and updating their copyright laws. The report congratulated Malaysia and Spain for being removed from a lower level watch list that includes 27 countries this year.

    Malaysia was dropped from the watch list in recognition of steps it has taken to strengthen protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and for issuing regulations to protect pharmaceutical test data, USTR said. Spain was removed from the watch list after adopting regulations to combat piracy over the Internet.

    Thanks be to Allah/Mohammed, Saudi Arabia is neither on any “good” list nor any “bad” list :)-

  5. Interestingly enough, Abe, NO oil producing nation that the US deals with is on the list.
    Only Venezuela is, a nation we don’t purchase oil from and have, erm, some difficulties with its leadership is.
    Perhaps you’re right, we should sanction our oil producing nations over Hollywood losing some money, as those wealthy people are losing a few million dollars.
    And we can also put sanctions on China too.
    That way we’ll nearly halt ALL imports. Though, the loss of Chinese products that make the old 1960’s Made in Japan labeled products look good, well, that may be a GOOD thing… 😉

    Yep, it’s a bit more complicated now, huh? :/
    When trading for necessities, such as fuel, one simply doesn’t list the trading partners who offend on IP issues. It beats an oil embargo II.

  6. Wzrd1

    The US purchases somewhere between 700,000 and 1 million barrels of Venezuelan oil EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  7. I imagine he knew very well what he was doing was wrong. What did he need that tape for but to sell it? He probably has a business partner Saudi-side. If he wanted his own copy it would be easier to buy one from the Saudi pirate shops. Except he probably owns or works for one.

  8. Dan is absolutely positively correct. THESE are the top ten countries that the U.S. imports oil from:

    1. Canada
    2. Mexico
    3. Saudi Arabia
    4. Venezuela
    5. Nigeria
    6. Angola
    7. Iraq
    8. Algeria
    9. United Kingdom
    10. Brazil

  9. As an author of Science Fiction, it is impossible for me to become established and make a living because of internet piracy.

  10. How so Gwen? Other people seem to manage.

  11. Gwen, I wonder you have time to be an author, with all your moving around from one religion to another.
    Although your current religion, Mormonism, is very much like science Fiction,

    Have you thought of Scientology as your next step in religion? That is actually made up by a failed SF writer, you should be right at home in that ”religion”.

  12. On the flip side, it took me a long time to get used to the idea that rules are only guidelines/public statements which should be broken if possible, as is the case in much of the Middle East. The rule-following was drilled into me pretty well in the States. When I returned it definitely opened my eyes to the fact that laws are not as solid as they seem…

  13. Snowman:

    There are also Governor pardons as well. So Presidential pardons are not the only pardon that someone can get. It depends on whether he was charged federally or locally. Often times unless the incident is on a large scale the feds will not get involved so unless the police can show he is in a ring of pirates he probably will be charge only on a local level.

    Now if charge on a local level it will depend on the prosecution and whether they intend to proceed with the charge or not; all this is based upon the evidence. Now between that point to court any number of things can happen depending on the judicial system and facts of the case.

  14. What I hope that readers of this post come away with and especially those who are in the US as a student, business or tourist, will realize breaking or circumventing laws are not tolerated here as may be the case in their home countries.

  15. Well I assure you that often times you will not get any sympathy from anyone for breaking a law. However, should a person be involved in something other than a minor law violation often times they will go to prison and then are deported or just deported if minor.

    The US is a rule based society and the fact that their are as many people in jail in the US, should definitely send a message to people as the US will put people in jail. Depending on what State you live at depends on the range of time. Rape in one state could be a lifetime sentence and in another about 5 to 15 years. Shoplifting in some states become felonies upon a dollar threshhold sending you to prison for numerous years. Some states are extremely strict on drug offenses other are not. It just depends on what you are charged with and the degree of severity. However, I don’t care who you are it is not a good thing to test the waters in the US. You see there are times that people who have WASTA often times gets more time than normal people because of the perception that they have gotten away with this before due to WASTA and therefore a message will be sent.

    In other words, public sentiment could ensure a stronger sentence due influence of the person or the level of the crime.

    I hope that I explained it a little more. I would never tempt it as you never know the outcome and it is often times not in the favor of the criminal.

  16. My focus tended to the difference between rules/laws in the USA and in other countries, chiefly the Arab Gulf, but also other third world countries. It occurred to me while reading this post that American rules TEND to be towards true respect for property (thus intellectual property rights ranking high)–but on a more fundamental level, U.S. rules aim at respect for other people, given that all men & women are created equal in the sight of man and God. I hope we stay on that course.
    This reminds me of my Saudi ex husband’s memory, as a teen, of asking his father why the United States was strongest of all countries, why it was stronger than a Muslim country such as Saudi Arabia.
    His father, a self educated bone doctor and employee of the state, replied that a saying of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) indicated that the nation which best practiced justice would be preeminent.

  17. @bigstick1, there are exceptions to how the law is applied in the States though. Case in mind: Trayvon Martin.

  18. Rahma, in what way has the Trayvon Martin case been an exception? The shooter is to go on trial.
    You mistake local “good old boy” nonsense that isn’t permitted to stand with a national practice.

    Julia, the reason that the US is of the stature that it is is due to an old policy that was reflected by Theodore Roosevelt, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”, the big stick being a direct reference to the US Navy and intimating military intervention to support US policy and goals.

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