3 kinds of things according to ownership

The discussion below is based on an outline by Paras (2008) in his book on property law. Please check citation below. His books are available in fine bookstores nationwide.

A thing is anything but property is one capable of appropriation or already appropriated by man. Therefore, a thing can be one belonging to someone (property in the real sense), one belonging to everyone (thing in the real, legal sense) and one belonging to no one (property or thing depending on capability of being appropriated).

According to Paras (2008), there are three kinds of things, depending on the nature of their ownership: [a] res nullius (belonging to no one); [b] res communes (belonging to everyone); and [c] res alicujus (belonging to someone). Below is an explanation for each.

RES NULLIUS. A thing that belongs to no one. "Res" means thing and "nullius" means none.

These things belong to no one, and the reason is that they have not yet been appropriated, like fish still swimming in the ocean, or because they have been abandoned (res derelictae) by the owner with the intention of no longer owning them. Other examples include wild animals (ferae naturae), wild birds, and pebbles lying on the seashore.

[1] Paras (2008)'s discussion above regarding res nullius may be incomplete.
[2] Things belonging to no one are either not yet appropriated or cannot be appropriated.
[3] If one abandons his property, it does not become a thing (does not become no longer property) because it continues to be capable of appropriation. On the other hand, the moon is both res nullius because no one owns it and res communes because it belongs to everyone.
[4] Note that under an international treaty on space exploration, the Philippines recognizes that space is no man's property and is subject to exploration by any government, but not to occupation.
[5] Wild animals are res nullius until and unless someone appropriates them. However, there are animals that, by law, cannot be caught or touched by anyone because of conservation laws protecting them.
[6] The energy from a collapsing star is res nullius and res communes but, the moment someone subjects it to the control of man by science, such energy or parts of it controlled can be considered res alicujus (in fact, personal property).

RES COMMUNES. A thing that belongs to everyone. "Res" means thing and "communes" means community. Actually, this should be "res communis."

While in particular no one owns common property, still in another sense, res communes are really owned by everybody in that their use and enjoyment are given to all of mankind. Examples would be the air we breathe, the wind, sunlight, and starlight.

[1] Things are no res communes by nature. They are res communes because humans have no choice but to considered them so. Sunlight, for example, cannot, as a whole, cannot be brought under the control of man by science; parts of it can be, though and, in this case, such would be considered personal property.
[2] The main test in determining whether something is res communes is human control. We cannot control the wind but one who captures wind and puts it in a container may sell them same and it would be considered property under the law.
RES ALICUJUS. A thing that belongs to someone. "Res" means thing and "alicujus" means some.

These are objects, tangible or intangible, which are owned privately, either in a collective or individual capacity. And precisely because they can be owned, they really should be considered “property.” Examples: your book, your shares of stock, your parcel of land.

[1] Res alicujus is property. Property is one that is not only under the control of man but is under appropriated (or can be appropriated).
[2] Property can be movable or immovable. This classification can only be used with reference to property.
[3] For example, the moon and the human body are obvious "movables" in a colloquial sense but, in a legal sense, they are neither movable nor immovable because they are not property.

SOURCE: Paras (2008). CIVIL CODE of the PHILIPPINES ANNOTATED By EDGARDO L. PARAS, † Litt. B., LL.B., LL.M., LL.D. Associate Justice Supreme Court of the Philippines (1986-1992). VOLUME TWO ARTS. 414-773 (PROPERTY). Rex Book Store. https://www.rexestore.com/law-library-essentials/537-civil-code-volume-ii-property.html

Res nullius (literally meaning, nobody's thing) is a Latin term derived from private Roman law whereby res (an object in the legal sense, anything that can be owned, even a slave, but not a subject in law such as a citizen nor land) is not yet the object of rights of any specific subject. Such items are considered ownerless property and are free to be acquired by means of occupatio.

Examples of res nullius in the socio-economic sphere are wild animals (ferae naturae) or abandoned property (res derelictae). Finding can also be a means of occupation (i.e. vesting ownership), since a thing completely lost or abandoned is res nullius, and therefore belonged to the first taker. Specific legislation may be made, e.g. for beachcombing.

Res communis is a Latin term derived from Roman law that preceded today’s concepts of the commons and common heritage of mankind. It has relevance in international law and common law. In sixth century C.E., the Institutes of Justinian codified the relevant Roman law as: “By the law of nature these things are common to mankind - the air, running water, the sea, and consequently the shores of the sea.”

Biological examples of res communis include fish and mammals in high seas. Rules for use of the continent Antarctica were based on res communis as was development of space law. The term can be contrasted with res nullius, the concept of ownerless property, associated for example with terra nullius, the concept of unowned territory by which British settlement in Australia was arguably based, despite being home to indigenous peoples.

Property, in the abstract, is what belongs to or with something, whether as an attribute or as a component of said thing. In the context of this article, it is one or more components (rather than attributes), whether physical or incorporeal, of a person's estate; or so belonging to, as in being owned by, a person or jointly a group of people or a legal entity like a corporation or even a society.

Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property has the right to consume, alter, share, redefine, rent, mortgage, pawn, sell, exchange, transfer, give away or destroy it, or to exclude others from doing these things, as well as to perhaps abandon it; whereas regardless of the nature of the property, the owner thereof has the right to properly use it (as a durable, mean or factor, or whatever), or at the very least exclusively keep it.

SOURCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Res_nullius; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Res_communis; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property

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