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Contemporary Academic Literature

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The paper states that contemporary academic literature widely recognizes the property as an entity, tangible or intangible, that is owned by an individual or group of individuals, that have the right to consume, sell, exchange, transfer or destroy their property as well as exclude others from performing these acts. From the critical perspective, the conception of the property has not was been universal; on the contrary, it was a subject of academic and philosophical discourse in the 19th century. Prior to legal scholar Wesley Hohfeld, the property has been associated with things.

Hohfeld in his in-depth analysis indicated that property cannot be things, like land, manufactures, plants or breweries. Property can only be the rights over things. Hohfeld was the first to make a clear ana¬ lytical distinction between property as things and property as rights. He and his students turned the legal profession decisively towards the second. Hohfeld fired a barrage of influential argu¬ ments that sunk the old property is things conception within the legal profession. Hohfeld argued that lawyers had often been misled by the contrast between the rights in rem and rights in personam to think that property rights were actually rights “ against things, ” which is absurd since practically all rights are against people.

Hohfeld and his followers objected that regarding the property as things leave intellectual property unaccounted for. They also complained that regarding property as a thing led to a misplaced focus on physical possession of an object instead of on the complexes of rights that form the stuff of modern property law. And most importantly, Hohfeldian analysis was thought to give the fatal blow to the property are things by proving it incapable of han¬ dling divided or multiple ownership.

Bruce Ackerman describes the standard “ divided control” objection to the property is things and the le¬ gal orthodoxy that formed around it: “ Instead of defining the relationship between a person and ‘ his’ things, property law discusses die relationships that arise between people with respect to things.

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