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My inquiry is into whether harmless uses of property should give the property owner a right to sue. Under current law, harmless trespasses to land and to copyrights and patents do indeed give rise to liability. Should they? Neither moral philosophy, political science nor economics deals well with the harmless free-rider. The possibility I'm exploring-- just exploring at this stage-- is the following: that where inexhaustible products like information become a primary source of value, our institutions might serve us better if instead of mandating payment for harmless use via legal compulsion, payment for harmless use be left to the informal pressures of gratitude and reciprocity.



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