Goblins (H.P.) and legal possession: some questions

If goblins believe that the creator of an object has an indelible claim to it, why don’t they expressly say it’s a lease, not a sale, when they allow someone to have possession of an object for money? Exactly how in muggle economic terms would you phrase the way goblins regard transfer of property- a non-transferable lease, or maybe a sale with first option to buy back upon resale? This seems to be beyond the understanding of the wizarding world, but then the whole wizarding world seems quaintly unsophisticated in many ways. And how exactly do goblins handle property transers between goblins? What happens when the original creator of an object dies? Unfortunately HP&tDH gives only scant details about it.

My understanding, from that chapter in the last HP book, is that goblins feel very personally about objects they made and consider it vulgar that wizards so casually transfer ownership of things. Wizards, on the other hand, don’t respect goblins’ feelings on the matter and insist on their ability to transfer ownership in a permanent way. Attempts by wizards to deal with goblins on such terms will be undermined by the fact that the goblins actually feel that the items should be liberated from these “thieves.”

I think a decent real-world analogy might be how a person who doesn’t own pets doesn’t properly relate to how much a part of the family an animal can be, to pet owners. Sure they could, if they wished to, talk about it in a common language, but at the end of the day, when something happens to the pet, one person will be crying their eyes out, and the other will be thinking, “OK, you can always get another one.”

This seemed to me to be some sort of metaphor for intellectual property rights. With writers, musicians, and producers (or more accurately, the large corporations supposedly protecting their rights) being the Goblins and Wizards being the average consumer. This theme was further expanded in the scene with the duplicating spell.

I have to admit the duplicating spell scene and the relationship to intellectual rights has completely whoosed me. I still don’t understand the correlation.

[HIJACK]My aunt (with her own kids) actually said this to me at my daughter’s funeral[/HIJACK]

That seems like an odd stand for J. K. Rowling to take, though, since the Goblin point of view is so thoroughly trashed by Wizard culture. Given the ultimate disposition of Gryffindor’s sword, one might even say that would makethe Sorting Hat a kind of Wizarding Napster.

If anything, I’d think it was more analogous to how we bought land from Native Americans.


Holy cow, that’s horrible. My condolences…on your loss, and on having such an insensitive relative.

I’d say that the situation is basically a non-transferable lease, with the lease expiring upon the death of the lessee.

Once, in an old Sherlock Holmes story, I encounted the concept of a “life interest,” which would seem to be an arrangement where someone gets to live on a property for the rest of their life, and then it reverts back to the owner, or his heir. That’s basically the way goblins see ownership. The person who “buys” the item gets a life interest in it, but the item never becomes “his,” to dispose of as he pleases.