Cold Corpses, Hot News and Dead IP: The Reasons and Consequences of a Legal Status of No-Property

34 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2019

See all articles by Carol M. Rose

Carol M. Rose

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

An oddity of Anglo-American common law is that human dead bodies do not belong to anyone, except insofar as a time-limited “quasi-property” allows descendants to bury their relatives. There are odd parallels in the non-property status of dead bodies and some un-ownable intellectual matters, which I call “NIPs” (for no IP), e.g. expired intellectual property rights. This article tracks both parallels and differences by assessing corpses and NIPs against a set of standard reasons why some things cannot be owned. It explores further parallels in the ways that interested parties attempt to evade the no-property status of both corpses and NIPs. While propertization is not the only answer to these evasions, it may be that dead bodies are becoming more propertized, while IP is becoming less so.

Keywords: ownership, non-property status, dead bodies, corpses, intellectual property, propertization, quasi-property, grave robbery

Suggested Citation

Rose, Carol Marguerite, Cold Corpses, Hot News and Dead IP: The Reasons and Consequences of a Legal Status of No-Property (2019). 57 Houston Law Review ___ (2019, Forthcoming); Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 19-25. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3487640

Carol Marguerite Rose (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
520-621-5544 (Phone)
520-621-9140 (Fax)

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