Friday, May 20, 2016
What a way to finish up the day! I'm now in a panel titled "Fun Property: How Property Can Increase Recreation, Health, and Happiness." What could be more fun than this?
The first paper is by Avital Margalit (Sapir) who is discussing her paper, Private Ownership in Sport Clubs: In Whom We Trust? As an avid sports fan, I am pretty pumped up about this paper. Margalit begins by questioning the private owners of sports teams and their decisions. Though Margalit is focused on futbol, I can't help but think about American football and owners' decisions, like the good decision the Saints made in acquiring Cody Fleener or the crazy QB situation the Eagles have put themselves in. But I digress. Margalit's comment on ownership of sports clubs is that the owner does not always make decisions in the best interest of the team and/or fans. Margalit questions whether there is some manner in which fans' interest could be considered in the owner's decision-making. Yes, the owner owns the club, but Margalit argues the fans make up the essence of the team. Without the fans, the team would not exist. To give the fans some say, Margalit has a number of different ideas, some of which have been implemented in some jurisdictions. The most interesting ideas she suggests are providing some ex ante mechanism by which owners agree to consider fans wants before making big, non-player decisions, such as whether to change team colors. Another possibility would be to have a fans association that gets a vote in big decisions.
Next up is Dave Fagundes (Houston) and his paper Property, Acquisition & Happiness. Turns out there have been lots of studies of hapiness and its connection to other areas of law (tort, crim, etc.), but no study on happiness and property, so Fagundes is filling in this gap. Fagundes finds that acquisition of more property does not increase our happiness. You read that correctly: levels of happiness and levels of wealth are not inherently directly correlated. Why? Fagundes provides a number of reasons. For example, the more things a person has, the less the person enjoys each individual thing. Another example is that happiness is really governed by how much you owe, not how much you own. Fagundes uses this information to then rethinkg different property law doctrines. First, he utilizes the relation of hapiness and property law to find out where is property law going wrong. For example, Fagundes asserts that to the extent American property law is incentivizing home ownership, and even multiple homeownership, that may be actually decreasing an individual's happiness. Fagundes then asks what does happiness tell us about what property law should we do right. For example, research has shown that a bigger house does not make an individual happier, but an individual can grow dramatically more unhappier if the individual has to sit in traffic. To the extent our policies strive to encourage home ownership and the homes people think they want to buy are in the suburbs, far away from the employer, perhaps our policies should instead be designed to encourage people to buy houses closer to employers so that the employees can avoid the commute which we know will make the individual unhappy.
Happiness continues into the next paper which discusses the right to the countryside. The third paper on this panel is Louise Burns (Dublin) who is presenting her paper Law, Landscape and the Common Good. Access to the Countryside for Recreation. Burns explains that in Ireland, there is a relatively recent concept of the "recreational user." A recreational user is someone who comes on property he/she does not own, just for the heck of it, usualy for accessing a beach or the hills. The recreational user is not up to no good, but just goofing off (i.e. having fun). The problem is that under Irish law, the recreational user gets no tort protection from the true owner if the recreational user is injured on the land of another. Thus, the law discourages individuals from accessing the countryside. Burns has taken on the task of interviewing land owners to find out their thoughts on whether recreational users should be allowed on their land. Not surprisingly, landowners are against having recreational users on their property and supportive of being free fom liability for any injuries that occur on their property.
Last up for today is Adam Sheppard (University of the West of England) and his paper Health Check or Reality Check? Planning, Health, and Decision Making. Sheppard begins by stating that when contemplating development decisions, health and well-being are being taken into account more and more. For example, in Bristol there are limits on where fastfood franchises can be set up, namely that they cannot be within a certain distance of schools if the location of the fastfood chain would negatively influence the students' food and health choices. The limits on fastfood locations have been somewhat limited because courts have allowed fastfood chains to be near schools if they will be closed at the times children are going to or from school or they meet other conditions. Moreover, Sheppard notes that using planning as a mneas of promoting healthy life styles has limited positive effects. For example, if fastfood chains are not allowed near schools, there is no similar regulation prohibiting Starbucks or grocery stores from being near schools, and children can purchase equally unhealthy items from Starbucks and grocery stores. Ultimately, Sheppard offers a hierarchy of questions that should be answered if planning is to be used to encourage healthy lifestyles, the primary question being normative, namely should the government be using planning to encourage individuals to make better lifestyle decisions. Sheppard takes the position that it is not a bad idea for the State to encourage healthy (or healthier) life style decisions, but he's skeptical of whether planning can achieve the goals desired.
Panels are done for the day, but tune in tomorrow for more live blogging of day two of ALPS!
Today's keynote address at ALPS is by Dave Cowan (Bristol). David is discussing his project, The Properties of Tenure, which he is working on with Alison Wallace (York) and Helen Carr (Kent).
Cowan (& Co.) take on the topic of shared ownership in their paper with the purpose of highlighting the human narrative that is frequently missing in property law theory, and more particularly highlighting the experience of marginal owners, i.e. those frequently considered property "outsiders." To do so, Cowan interviewed 71 shared owners over the course of one year to get their perspective on their situation.
It is important at the outset to understand what Cowan means by "shared owner." Shared ownership in the UK is the idea, as Prime Minister Cameron recently said, that one can part-rent, part-buy property, all with the aspiration of eventually becoming the full owner. Shared owners buy a percentage of their home while renting the remainder from a landlord, in Cowan's case, a social landlord.
The problem with shared ownership is that despite its aspirational goals, in reality shared owners are simply long-term lessors. Shared owners are rarely able to become full owners for a variety of reasons, most involving a lack of financial means. Because of this, shared owners are in a highly precarious position though they maintain high hopes.
What Cowan learned from his interviews is that even though the description provided for shared ownership is very "neat," the institution itself was very "messy." Shared owners were somewhere between true owners and true renters. They were not in social housing, but they were not in private housing either. Their sense of ownership came not from their four walls, but what was on those walls. It came not from their gardens, but from their movable house plants. Ownership for shared owners was shown through their stuff, their things.
Cowan's research highlights, among other things, two important items for property law. First, shared ownership reminds us that application of the law is messy. Try as we might to create clean boxes in our property law--one owns or rents--those neat, clean boxes do not always translate to the real world.
Second, it is the human experience that people themselves place value in more than the institutions we create. The things, the stuff, shared owners had is what formed their views of themselves as "owners" (however precarious their situation) and what distinguished them from non-owners.
Off to the next panel! More live blogging to follow!
Greetings from Belfast! The ALPS 2016 conference is going fantastically. From yesterday's tour of Belfast and reception at the Titanic Museum to this morning's panel I sat in on that discussed social justice and inclusion in housing across the globe, everything has been wonderful. Great job to Robin Hickey (Queen's University) for his efforts in hosting this conference.
Right now I'm sitting in on a panel titled "Ownership of the Body." It's 10:30am Belfast time and what is a better way to keep the morning going than talking about the human body--dead or alive, as these papers cover both--and whether we can apply property rights to the human body?
The first paper is by Heather Conway (Queen's University). Conway is discussing her paper Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes . . . ? Property Rights in Cremains. Conway's paper covers property rights in dead bodies. As Conway notes, in the 1614 case of Haynes, there is no property right in a dead body, but there are possessory rights in the dead body. The purpose of the possessory right was primarily been for burial purposes. Because the right relates largely to burial, the right of possession is a relatively short-lived right (pun intended). Conway's question is the extent to which this possessory right-only applies to cremains. As Conway notes, ashes are very different from a dead body and the options for what one does with ashes is much more vast than the options for what one does with a deceased body. Given the differences in ashes and bodies, Conway asks whether a more traditional property theory can be applied to cremains. Can we say that ashes are property? Even if a dead body is not property, can the ashes--which are created from a dead body--be classified as property? Conway takes this question to the next level. Ashes can be converted into other things like jewelry, vases, etc. (Go to LifeGem.com to learn more about turning the carbon remains of your loved ones into anything you want.) Once ashes are converted to, for example, a ring, the ring is certainly property. Does this make the ashes themselves property? And if so, what does that say about the dead body that lead to the creation of the ashes? These, and more, are the questions Conway is pondering.
Next up is Jessica Roberts (Houston) presenting her paper, Genetic Ownership. Roberts' query regards how the law regulates ownership interests in genetic data, and, more specifically, whether the individuals who provide genetic data should have an ownership interest in that data. There's obviously a number of cases on property rights in genetic information (think Moore), and in all of these cases, the person providing the genetic data tried to assert a property right. Courts and bioethic scholars tend to reject the application of property rights in genetic information, but as Roberts points out, private genetic testing companies are starting to contractually grant certain property rights in genetic data. Moreover, President Obama commented in February that he "would like to think that if somebody does a test on [him] or [his] genes, that that's [his]." Thus, Roberts says that it is time to rethink whether property rights can be applied to genetic data. Roberts' project begins this reconceptualization of property rights and genetic data, utilizes different property theories to genetic data, and ultimately applies a human flourishing theory of property to genetic data as a means by which we can create ownership rights in genetic data.
Last up is co-blogger Steve Clowney (University of Arkansas) presenting his article, Does Commodification Corrupt? Clowney's presentation commmences by discussing how today we allow for the purchase of things that 100 years ago would have seemed strange. Think about story many folks gawked at in 2005 when the online casino Goldenpalace.com paid Karolyne Smith (allegedly) $15,000 to have the casino's URL permanently tattooed on her forehead. Today, Clowney says, we buy and sell things we would not have bought and sold 100 years ago. In doing that, Clowney argues we inherently commodify new things, like our foreheads. Clowney's question, then, is whether commodifying things corrupts. He uses three case studies to examine this question: high end art appraisers, prostitutes, and sellers of Christian artifacts. For the art appraisers, Clowney interiewed 20 high end appraisers and asked whether their occupation corrupted their appreciation of art. Answer: no; art appraisers love art even more than they did before they got into the art business. For sex workers, Clowney's results are not as conclusive (yes, if you are wondering, he did in fact interview a lot of prostitues) but generally he found that the sex workers he interviewed did not dislike physical activity they engaged in outside of their work life, and seemed to even enjoy it more. And, as you might expect, the same result regarding corruption held up for sellers of religious artifacts. Thus, Clowney concludes that while there may be many reasons to keep certain things out of the market, the fear that commodification may corrupt may be overrated.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
ALPS 3rd Annual Meeting
March 2-3, 2012, to be held at
Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C.
Co-sponsored by Syracuse University College of Law
and Georgetown Law Center
Registration Opens September 1, 2011
and Closes January 20, 2012
Early Bird Registration fee is $145 for registration prior to November 15. After November 15 registration is $175.
Registration will be available on our web pages by September 1, 2011
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST at: www.alps.syr.edu/join
CALL FOR PAPERS (Paper/Abstract submissions can be done with registration).
ALPS, third Annual Meeting (supported by Syracuse University, College of Law and Georgetown University Law Center) to be held at Georgetown Law School, March 2-3, 2012. Our first two meetings included 150 participants each; of which approximately 1/3 were from outside of North America. The discussions on all areas of property were exciting and benefited from the diverse mix of viewpoints presented. We are looking forward to an equally good meeting this coming March.
This year registration will include an option to register to attend without presenting a paper. For those wishing to present a paper any topic on property law and policy is of interest and may be on any of a number of topic areas including:
Real, Personal, and Intangible Property
Real Estate Transactions and Finance
Land Use and Zoning
Urban Planning and Development
Mortgages and Foreclosure
Indigenous Populations and Sovereignty
Human Rights and Property
Entrepreneurship and Property
Takings and Eminent Domain
The Economics of Property
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Monday, March 7, 2011
The Association of Law, Property, and Society conference this weekend was fabulous! A few thoughts:
1. As Steve mentioned, the papers presented by the diverse group of participants were thought-provoking. There was something for everyone at this conference, and I particularly enjoyed the presence of so many international participants.
2. The conference was well-designed to facilitate scholarly and informal networking. I thought that the panels were, in general, organized around the same themes or concepts which helped encourage collaboration. I will definitely be in contact with several people that I met at the conference to provide more info to help their work, or because they had thoughts about resources and ideas to support my work. I also just met a lot of really nice people that I want to stay in touch with!
3. My co-bloggers here at PropertyProf and I (re)discovered that this site has a lot of lurkers. I was struck by how many people mentioned a random post that one of us made months ago. This isn't a blog that attracts a lot of comments, for whatever reason, so it was very nice to hear that our fellow profs do read the blog and find it useful. Thanks for reading!
4. My co-bloggers here at PropertyProf are awesome and it was great hanging out with them in person. Electronic communication (through blogs and e-mail) is a wonderful convenience, but nothing beats spending time with people!
5. The third annual conference is already being planned for next year. If you haven't attended the first two years, I highly recommend that you try to make it next year!
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Saturday, March 5, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
(1) will be revealed as idiot during panel (estimated probability: 33%);
(2) will spill food on others (estimated probability: 48%);
(3) will have song "Edelweiss" stuck in head entire time (estimated probability: 99%).
Mark A. Edwards
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As readers of this blog may recall, one of my main research interests is the law of cemeteries and the relationship between the law, custom, and commercial interests in determining how Americans dispose of our remains. I am fortunate enough to receive regular e-mails from students, colleagues and friends, sharing an Internet link to a stories related to this area. (It's a little disturbing that so many people associate me with death, but it is also very nice of them to help me with my research!)
My colleague Barbara Lentz recently e-mailed me a link to a story from Slate.com by an American author sharing her family's experience with the Greek burial system. The author's grandparents moved back to their native Greece in the 1990s, eventually died and were buried there. At that point, the author's family learned that in Greece, graves are rented for a maximum of three years. When the lease term is up, the remains are removed from the individual grave to a communal ossuary.
From an American perspective, the Greek practices are horrific. Our default position is that a grave is permanent, with superstition, secular cultural norms, and religious beliefs all arguing against disturbing a grave (See, e.g. Poltergeist). But of course that isn't the entire story. Why are there few graveyards in Manhattan and Chicago, and none in San Francisco? Because they were all moved to the suburbs (or paved over) when the cities began to expand. We would all have difficulty imagining that it would be acceptable to disinter Grandma and put her skeleton in a museum, but the Smithsonian has a fascinating CSI-type exhibit on the dead of Jamestown, Virginia -- all of whom were disinterred, examined, and put in a museum. We all draw lines regarding the rights of (or respect for) the dead and the interests of the living. I'm really interested in where Americans draw those lines, and why.
If you are also interested in this subject and attending ALPS, I will be participating in a Saturday morning panel at 8:30am. And if you run across any interesting stories, or have some to share from your own experience, please feel free to e-mail them to me!
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Thursday, February 24, 2011
I'm curious to know how many of our readers will be attending the ALPS conference next week. If you're going, leave a comment, and if you're presenting tell us that too. I'll be there and will be presenting, and I'm looking forward to meeting you.
Mark A. Edwards
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Monday, October 18, 2010
It seems to me that there is a relative lack of law review symposia on property-related issues. I don't have any solid data to go on, but it seems to me that there should be more property symposia given that (a) there are lots of property profs out there and (b) there are so many amazingly cool property issues that would benefit from consideration in a symposium.
This leads me to two questions. First, do you agree that property symposia seem scarce? Second, what specific subjects do you think would make good symposium topics? Off the top of my head, I'd like to see symposia on (1) the judicial takings issue; (2) home and the law; (3) statutory reform of property law; (4) the future of estates, future interests, and the RAP in light of the proposed Restatement (Third); (5) the future of adverse possession; (6) common interest communities; (7) critical evaluations of the new "progressive" property; (8) the relationship between property and liberty.
Organizing symposia, of course, can be a bit of a pain. But if there is enough interest out there, it might be possible to come up with a plan to coordinate symposia, perhaps under the auspices of ALPS.
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