Saturday, May 3, 2014

Liveblogging ALPS 2014: Session 6 (from the Moon to Zuccotti Park)

Day 2 of ALPS continues to be a fascinating and enjoyable romp through various property and land use topics.

In what has been the most amusing presentation so far, Wian Erlank (North-West University, South Africa) asked the question of who owns space and how/when we will make the rules. Creating the field (or at least coining the term) "Space Property Law," Wian asks who owns objects (both human-made and natural) in outer space. Current treaties declare that no one can own natural items (the moon, planets, asteroids) but you can own things that nations and individuals place there (satellites, space stations). But, as Wian points out it will be an interesting treaty to enforce. What happens when someone starts a business mining asteroids? Who will stop them? What laws will govern. I can't wait to see the Law & Geography approach to this question. It continually brought to mind for me the evolution of mining law in the United States where the miners developed their own rules and government blessed and adopted their approach (perhaps tying to a lot of the talks I have heard about property and violence this weekend).

Sjef van Erp (Maastricht University - Netherlands) spoke on problems with hierarchy. In the United States, this boils down to a combination of a federalism and choice of law. I thought that was complicated, but Sjef convinced me that it gets even trickier in the EU. As the member states think about harmonization, it raises complicated questions about which laws will apply. 

Nadav Shoked (Northwestern) presented on a project he is working on with David Dana who sadly didn't make it from the airport on time for his own presentation. Nadav and David are asking whether we can bring ideas from the doctrine of trespass by necessity into the First Amendment. Specifically, they explore the claim that some protests are place-dependant. The quintessential is the Occupy Wall Street movement, which got a lot of rhetorical strength by er you know.. occupying Wall Street. The subject matter of the protest was inextricably related to the place of the protest. At times, such locations will be on private property (indeed as was Zuccotti Park) and perhaps we could think about whether allowing such protests there could be advanced by a necessity defense. Nadav and David are not suggesting that the you can't keep a protester out of your living room but are suggesting that perhaps there is some areas where the strength of necessity could help justify or defend protester actions.

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