4 - I: What is property? o A. we take the institution for...

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I: What is property? o A. we take the institution for granted--for familiar things o B. But it is a specific kind of rule and concept, as you can see by applying it in less familiar contexts. My obligations to you are good only against me, but your ownership of property is good against the world-- everybody is legally obliged to respect it. o C. You ask a friend to borrow his bicycle. Implicit is: 1. he can have it back when he wants 2. If you give it to someone else, the owner can still claim it. o D. You ask a friend for information on a good dentist. 1. He has no right to have it back--to have you stop using the dentist unless you pay him for the information. Or even to demand that you give him the dentist's name if he forgets. 2. He has no right against third parties. o E. A gives you a business idea; you sign a non-disclosure agreement, etc. You tell it to B who tells it to C, who uses it. A can sue you, but he has no claim against C to "have his idea back," assuming C did not induce the breach. o F. There is a very partial exception to this in trade secret law, discussed below. o G. And a partial exception to the idea that you can always reclaim your property in the legal rule of "adverse possession," which implies that if someone else treats your land, or some right with regard to your land (such as the right to walk across it) as his for long enough (about seven years, varying by state) and you do nothing to indicate that it is yours, it becomes his. o H. So a recording system becomes important for maintaining property rights, especially for valuable items such as land. o I. And how fancy the property rights are--to what degree you are free to unbundle them and sell only part of the bundle--may depend on how easy it is for innocent third parties to figure out what they are getting. If you unbundle the tires from a car, the purchaser can learn it by inspection. But what if you unbundle mineral rights from the land? The right to decide what color your front door is from a house? o J. So for most forms of property other than land, the bundle of rights is fixed. 1. You can sell me your car, along with an agreement that I will not drive it on Sunday or sell it to anyone who will. 2. But if I resell without requiring the buyer to sign such a contract, you have no claim against the new owner--he got the full bundle of rights to the car
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3. only a claim against me for violating the contract. II: Determining property rules involves a set of questions: o A. How rights should be bundled (Coase article, our earlier discussion) o B. How should you be allowed to defend your property rights (property vs liability) o C. What should be property? o
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4 - I: What is property? o A. we take the institution for...

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