| Thursday July 24th 2014

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Property Outlaws: important scholarly book on how breaking property law improves it


Eduardo Penalver and Sonia Katyal’s Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership has been at the top of my discretionary reading pile for months, now ever since the publisher, Yale, sent me a review copy. Property OutlawsUnfortunately, it’s been months since I’ve done any substantial discretionary reading and it’ll be months still before I get to do so. So yesterday, I just carved out 45 minutes to give it a good, thorough skim, and while I don’t have enough of the book in me to do an actual review, I can tell you that my suspicions were confirmed.

Property Outlaws is a great and deep read on how the violation of property rights — from trespassing to sit-ins to copyright infringement — have been critical to the evolution of “the law of ownership,” establishing the principles that led to anti-discrimination laws (lunch-counter sit-ins), justice for indigenous people (Indian occupation of Alcatraz) and the many shifts and turns in copyright that accommodate speech, privacy, and free expression.


Katyal and Penalver go at the subject with academic thoroughness (both are academic lawyers), but without ever being dry. This is an important book — important enough that I’m putting it back in the stack so that I get a chance to read it cover to cover someday.

Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership

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