Property Boundaries

With all the talk about property as a “right” and not a “thing”, it is easy to forget that rights often relate to tangible physical objects, and that spatial issues are extremely important.

At the same time, there’s a legal line drawn between property rights to tangible and intangible resources. This lesson explores both types of boundaries that divide one owner’s rights from another’s.

First we’ll deal with real property boundaries on the vertical plane. Read pages 173-201. The cases in this section of the chapter are used to reinforce the usefulness of an economic analysis of law.

Then we’re going to talk about lateral boundaries, covering the materials on pages 201-222.

After covering the 3 dimensions of the boundaries of land, we’ll cover the boundaries between different kinds of property, in particular real and personal property. This is the law of fixtures, covered through readings on pages 222-231, which deals with the legal distinctions between things attached to land (fixtures) and things not attached to land (chattels). That’s only 9 pages, but read them carefully because we’ll put your understanding into practice during class. Come prepared to apply the readings.

We’re going to juggle up the syllabus this year, just given how the dates fall. So we’ll return to the rest of this chapter on boundaries later in November. Meanwhile, we’ll skip forward to cover the law of “possession“, and then “trusts“, before looping back here to “boundaries”.

When we get back to the chapter, we’ll start to tackle intellectual property rights. Here we begin to get into the lines that divide ownership of tangible vs. intangible resources. Please read the materials on Read pages 518-526 and then 246-262, covering copyrights and patents.

Trade-marks is a topic we’ll leave for the next day, when we’ll also deal with the issue of cyber-squatting and cyber-trespass. Those materials can be found at pages 262-281 of your casebook.