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The Supreme Court in several recent cases has flirted with the notion that labor gives one an entitlement to ownership: a legal right to bar others from the fruits of that labor or to extract payment from them if they use the fruits without permission. Sometimes articulated in terms of "natural rights," and sometimes in terms of "fairness," this notion is at apparent odds with contract law's insistence that the only "fruits of labor" one is obligated to pay for are those one has agreed in advance to buy.



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