Property Owners Victorious in New York Eminent Domain Case
Friday, May 21, 2010 12:00 pm | By Robert Kramer

This Wednesday there was a celebration in Auburn, N.Y. when the Auburn Industrial Development Agency voted unanimously against the use of eminent domain on the part of Pioneer Companies, who wished to build a Hilton Garden Inn on a plot of land currently occupied by several private residences.

The project is a recent example of an attempt at using eminent domain for the benefit of a private party, rather than public use.  Mayor Michael Quill argued that the project would yield $160,000 in tax revenue for the city, at what he perceived is the relatively small cost of removing several families from their homes.  Community support for the soon-to-be displaced families grew as negotiations were drawn out between the two parties.  In the end, the public pressure proved too much, and the Auburn Industrial Development Agency ruled that eminent domain use was out of the question.

The victory should stand as a case of legal precedence to be followed for eminent domain use, one where its use is reserved for truly public projects and isn't subject to the political connections of private industry.  For now, the people of Auburn can sleep easy and carry on with the lives they've fought hard to preserve.

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Threat of Eminent Domain Abuse Prompts Calling for Supreme Court Decision
Thursday, May 20, 2010 10:31 am | By Robert Kramer

A recent case of eminent domain abuse has been brought to the nation's attention this week, when the Institute for Justice commented on the City of Milwaukee’s attempt to repossess a plot of land from the local Veterans of Foreign War post without paying just compensation. A ruling issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared that the VFW stood to receive no compensation for the lease it has held since 1961.  The case is calling into question the responsibility of the government in its use of eminent domain; should it make payments equal to the value of the land itself, or equal to the value of all assets lost?  As Dana Berliner of IJ stated “It is completely impossible that just compensation for a 50-year or 60-year lease is zero.”

This abuse of eminent domain shines some light on an issue that has been consistently afflicting our nation in recent years.  Economic development is dependent on well-defined and secure private property rights.  When people are uncertain that they can safely occupy their home or run their business without fear of losing it to the government for an ambiguously defined "public" use, production stagnates as incentives to put more money into an establishment are lost.

The Institute for Justice and National Association of Home Builders want to bring the case before the Supreme Court.  If it agrees to hear the case, we can only hope that a ruling is given in favor of private establishments across the country, one where owners of repossessed land are given a just compensation for their lost assets, free from fear of being further abused by the government.

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Victory! Limewire No Longer Allowed to Profit from Theft
Thursday, May 13, 2010 1:11 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

This week, the District Court of Manhattan has handed a deserved victory to recording artists when Judge Kimba M. Wood found Limewire can be held liable for copyright infringement. This decision continues the strong precedent in favor of protecting intellectual property rights set by the Supreme Court nearly five years ago in the MGM Studios v. Grokster decision, which ruled that software developers can be held liable when their products foster the infringement of copyrighted movies and music. In a unanimous decision, the high court ruled against companies such as Grokster which base their business on the theft of intellectual property rights.

These cases, which seek to stop the illegal downloading of copyrighted material by holding accountable the peer-to-peer (P2P) companies which provide it, are instrumental in laying the foundation for intellectual property rights protection. Yesterday’s ruling is a victory not just for the entertainment industry, but ultimately for legitimate free markets and the American consumer.

This ruling will assist in greatly discouraging the illegal activities that have been taking place for too long and sends a strong signal that intellectual property rights violations will not be tolerated.

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