Saturday, February 26, 2011

Limits on Ownership

The BBC has a feature on games consoles here, noting that one's ownership is not unlimited but subject to various terms and restrictions. In fact, this is quite a common phenomenon. Books often have a condition that they cannot be lent or re-sold with an alternative cover or binding, while videos/DVDs are often not for hire or public showing.

Perhaps we don't really enjoy full ownership rights over much of what we possess. After all, the government reserves the right to regulate and tax our property. Libertarians might object to such interference but, as my friend Karl Widerquist has argued, no one buys the rights to a house (say) free from government taxation. The prices we pay for goods reflect the restrictions on them.

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