Sad Day for New York Property Owners
Thursday, June 24, 2010 5:39 pm | By Anthony Lizan

Property owners have good reason to fear if they live in New York. Today, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of Columbia University's expansion into West Harlem, overturning a lower court’s decision that formerly barred the expansion. Columbia’s developer, Empire State Development Corp, argued that eminent domain is appropriate because the property in West Harlem is blighted, and therefore redeveloping the area would serve a “civic purpose.”

New York has done this before. Earlier this year, the Court ruled in favor of Bruce Ratner, a developer who wanted to build an arena in the middle of a Brooklyn neighborhood. On March 1st, the Court gave Ratner the go ahead to start building; basically evicting citizens who’ve lived in their houses for years.

This ruling comes one day after the 5th anniversary of the despicable Kelo v. City of New London ruling, where private property was seized and given to the Pfizer Corporation for a project that never materialized.

Historically, eminent domain has been applied in very limited ways and for specific public purposes, i.e. to build new roads, schools, or hospitals. This ruling on the other hand, gives the government license to confiscate private property and give it to another private entity; a blatant infringement on individual property rights.

PRA strongly condemns the finding. New York has ignored property rights in favor of abusive government bureaucrats and highly-connected business owners.

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Getting Serious in the Fight Against IP Theft
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 5:13 pm | By Kelsey Zahourek

This week has seen remarkable progress by both the executive and legislative branches in the effort to combat the counterfeiting and piracy that has harmed creators and innovators, as well as the U.S. economy for some time.

Yesterday, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria Espinel, released the first nationwide strategy to combat the theft of intellectual property. This issue has had broad bipartisan support in Congress as well as backing in the Administration.

The plan outlines 33 “enforcement strategy action items” that are split into 6 categories:

At an event yesterday announcing the plan Vice President Joe Biden didn’t dance around his feelings on piracy stating: “Piracy is theft, clean and simple… We’re going after the people. We’re going after the web sites.”

In a time when many in my generation have accepted piracy as a legitimate way to acquire content because it’s easy or they feel it’s a victimless crime, this sentiment needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Just as it’s wrong for me to walk into a supermarket and steal a bag of oranges, it’s also wrong to go online and illegally download (steal) a song or a movie. Doing this does not “stick it to big media.” Millions of people are employed by industries dependent on intellectual property. When profits are lost due to counterfeiting and piracy, so are jobs.

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Life After Kelo v. City of New London
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:24 pm | By Anthony Lizan

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the infamous and universally detested Supreme Court decision on Kelo v. City of New London. Susette Kelo’s land was condemned and given to the Pfizer Corporation so it could build a new research and development base. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that New London was in compliance with the takings clause of the 5th amendment, because the “public” would benefit economically. The ruling gave the government an unprecedented amount of power over the property of private citizens.

Today, the land that Kelo’s house once stood upon is now barren, and the supposed economic benefits never materialized because Pfizer never built the base.

While the immediate aftermath was tragic, the case sparked a huge backlash that brought much attention to the issue of eminent domain abuse. According to the Institute of Justice: 43 states passed constitutional amendments or statues that reformed eminent domain laws to better protect property rights, nine state high courts ruled against the use of eminent domain for economic development, and at least 44 projects—where eminent domain was to be used for private gain—have been defeated since the Kelo ruling.

Yet the fight is hardly over. Congressman John Sullivan of Oklahoma has introduced the Private Property Rights Protection and Government Accountability Act, which will help end eminent domain abuse. The legislation will limit federal funds for 10 years to any state that attempts to use eminent domain to gain tax revenue. The bill will also give property owners greater legal protection when arguing against the state in court. (Click the "Read More" link below)


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