Modern legal thought often considers the notion of an item of property to be that of a thing which bears some profit or advantage, considers it in terms of the thing’s economic value. The very fact of the thing’s potential to be turned to use, by being employed or transferred, would permit it to be the subject of ownership. Use, understood in this sense, would be the reason and end justifying property.
Conceived from this perspective of use, the notion of an item of property is strongly flavoured by the dichotomy of tangibles and intangibles, since an immaterial thing is not turned to use in the same ways as a material one. Granted, this dichotomy carries its own freight of legal distinctions (e.g., intangible things could hardly be consumable ones), but also a freight of conceptual distinctions (e.g., the user of a work is not the possessor of a thing, this person is sometimes even a "pirate").
From Private Law to Intellectual Property, the use (of a thing, of a right) would then dwell in a conceptual landscape fertile for metaphors, yet also auspicious to the identification of a few myths. After all, isn’t it from the use of things that we can best grasp our legal relationship to them??
- Wendy Ann Adams
Meaning and metaphor: Associative thinking and the unacknowledged images of "use" in intellectual property
- Éric Labbé
Entre user d'un droit et user d'une chose (French only)
- Pierre-Emmanuel Moyse
Mode(s) d'emploi (French only)