83% of people think they own their digital content. 
They’re wrong.

Under the simple invitation of the “Buy Now” button lies page after page of legalese that can be distilled to one sentence: “You’re not buying a product. You’re buying the rights to use a product as long as we see fit.”

In “Ownership Engineering,” you’ll discover how online companies are changing the definition of ownership. You’ll learn a new way of looking at the online world, so that the next time you see a “Buy Now” button, you’ll know what’s truly at stake.

Michael Heller and is among the world's leading authorities on ownership. He’s the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of Real Estate Law at Columbia Law School and the author of The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives.

  • Digital movies you purchased can suddenly disappear from the streaming library
  • Your smart home device can be “bricked” overnight

The False Promise of the 

'Buy Now' Button

About  Michael


About Mine!

Mine! is one of the first words babies learn. By the time we grow up, the idea of ownership seems natural, whether buying a cup of coffee or a house. But who controls the space behind your airplane seat: you reclining or the squished laptop user behind? Why is plagiarism wrong, but it's okay to knock-off a recipe or a dress design? And after a snowstorm, why does a chair in the street hold your parking space in Chicago, but in New York you lose the space and the chair?

Mine! explains these puzzles and many more. Surprisingly, there are just six simple stories that everyone uses to claim everything. Owners choose the story that steers us to do what they want. But we can always pick a different story. This is true not just for airplane seats, but also for battles over digital privacy, climate change, and wealth inequality. As Michael Heller and James Salzman show—in the spirited style of Freakonomics, Nudge, and Predictably Irrational—ownership is always up for grabs.

With stories that are eye-opening, mind-bending, and sometimes infuriating, Mine! reveals the rules of ownership that secretly control our lives.

About  James

James Salzman is the Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, with joint appointments at the UCLA School of Law and the UCSB Bren School of the Environment. He is the author of Drinking Water: A History.