Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 3
How interesting. Why is this? Is there anything else that cannot be owned? You can own water rights and mineral rights. You can own air rights over your property. Is that different from owning the atmosphere above your property? Why can't you own part of the atmosphere? Where did this idea come from? Has it been tested in court?

A good question, but the main reason you can't own part of the atmosphere mostly because no property system (at least, none that I'm aware of) provides for ownership of part of the atmosphere. You can own the volume of space above real estate (air rights), and you can prevent people from entering that space up to a certain height - but you don't own the physical gases within that space until you 'take' them (similar to downing a wild bird). Most commonly that's done by breathing, but if you fill a container with compressed air drawn from the column above your land, that would be the same thing.

There's lots of things that can't be owned. You can't own the color red. You can't own Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (that I'm aware of). You can't own the idea of a wheel. You can't own the sun or the stars in heaven. You can't own a person. The reason for this is, as with the atmosphere, "ownership" is a creation of law - and none of our legal systems currently embrace ownership of those things.

Print the post  


What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.