Washington Law Review


Can property law have a consumer protection purpose? One of the most important consumer law concerns today is the limited control consumers have over the digital assets and software-embedded products they purchase. Current proposals for reform focus on classifying the transaction as either license or sale and rely mostly on contract law and consumer protection regulation with a few calls for restoring ownership rights. This Article argues that property law can protect consumers by establishing a minimum bundle of rights for consumers: the “consumer’s bundle.” Working with property theory and an analysis of property values, this Article explains the importance of users’ ability to use and alienate digital and technological assets as part of a new property category for consumers. These assets represent a new emerging resource that is currently managed and controlled by manufacturers and platforms. The suggested “consumer bundle” would limit platforms control and protect the rights to use, alienate, and repair.

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