Tuesday, July 19, 2005

*It's all about me A.K.A. why a knowledge economics and law is good for you*

Good, now that I've got your attention, yes, the content of my post today will have something to do with yours truely, the author.

As regular (and even non-regular) readers should more than evidently know by now, this entire blog has almost nothing tangent to my life at all. The number of posts that have actually made mentioned of the weird and wonderful life the author has can be counted on one hand *Mr Fluffy says to ignore the author for he's obviously self delusional i.e. the author has no life*

But I got a new DVD-rom today and I can now finally watch my West Wing Season Two. The relevance of this to anyone else's life has begin in the next paragraph.

I bought this entire second season of The West Wing from Mae Sin, the border town in Changmai which borders (obviously) Myanmar, at a fraction of the price you would have paid for in Singapore. To be precisely, it was slightly under 50% of what I would pay in most retail outlets in Singapore.

Now before you go calling the police in what seems to be a confession of a flagent breach of Intellectual Property Infringement, let me assure you, it was all perfectly legal and legitimate. As an aside, piracy is not theft mind you, that's what the big (small and medium sized companies have more pressing worries to do with the bigger companies and also mostly because no one bothers to pirate their software) software companies want the public to think. But it's not theft since it isn't 'real' property i.e. you are not depriving someone else of use of that piece of property, which is why the word infringement (and not theft) is the correct legal term. At any rate, I was simply engaging in a spot of grey/parallel importing (in Singapore it's more often associated with cars).

Anyway, the reason why I could get a similar cheaper product elsewhere and bring it back legally is premised upon something called exhaustion of rights. Once the company sells the product to the distributor or retailer, it has exhausted it's right with regards to the good in question. And since price differentials exists everywhere in the world for a variety of reasons (taxation and exchane rates being the major factors), the legal cost of the good in Changmai was simply cheaper than in Singapore. Hence, it was entirely within my legal rights to purchase a similar cheaper product elsewhere and bring it back AS A CONSUMER.

The consumer bit is relatively important because sometimes companies try to get round this form of arbitrage (buying low and selling high till the price reaches parity) by creating technical barriers (that's why you have the various Codes and Regions on your DVD and DVD players) or through laws which state that you can only buy and/or sell the product within a certain country (which nevertheless allowed me to buy Neverwinter Nights at yet another massive discount and bring it back home since I originally bought it in Thailand and was not planning to sell it here).

Another good example is how the mandated retail price of The Economist is nearly double here than it is in Malaysia. It also explains why Americans can, as consumers, go to Canada to buy their prescription drugs (the Canadian government puts a price cap on them) but not to import them for sale within the US.

And here we have it. This is how a economist background and some legal knowledge can be beneficial to your audiovisual pleasure.


p.s. If anyone is going to Thailand, could you help me get Season 3 of The West Wing pls? =P


Post a Comment

<< Home