Monday, September 25, 2023

Property Outlaws: “A Major Achievement”

Property Outlaws

Yale University Press has just published a book, Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership, by two good friends of mine, Sonia K. Katyal and Eduardo Moisés Peñalver, on disobedience and law. The book focuses on tangible and intellectual property, and is already being praised by some mighty academics such as Tim Wu at Columbia Law, Rebecca Tushnet at Georgetown Law, and Jonathan Zittrain. Harvard Law guru Joseph Singer calls this book “A major achievement”. Here’s a blurb from Yale Press:

Property Outlaws puts forth the intriguingly counterintuitive proposition that, in the case of both tangible and intellectual property law, disobedience can often lead to an improvement in legal regulation. The authors argue that in property law there is a tension between the competing demands of stability and dynamism, but its tendency is to become static and fall out of step with the needs of society.

The authors employ wide-ranging examples of the behaviors of “property outlaws”—the trespasser, squatter, pirate, or file-sharer—to show how specific behaviors have induced legal innovation. They also delineate the similarities between the actions of property outlaws in the spheres of tangible and intellectual property. An important conclusion of the book is that a dynamic between the activities of “property outlaws” and legal innovation should be cultivated in order to maintain this avenue of legal reform.

I interviewed Eduardo back in 2006, where he talks about property law, the legal differences between real and intellectual property, and the relationship of these discourses to art and cultural production (as well as his i-Pod mix). You can order your copy from Yale University Press or


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