By: Paul Graham
As a child I read a book of stories about a famous judge in eighteenth century Japan called Ooka Tadasuke. One of the cases he decided was brought by the owner of a food shop. A poorstudent who could afford only rice was eating his rice while enjoying the delicious cooking smells coming from the food shop. The owner wanted the student to pay for the smells he was enjoying. The student was stealing his smells!
This story often comes to mind when I hear the RIAA and MPAA accusing people of stealing music and movies.
It sounds ridiculous to us to treat smells as property. But I can imagine scenarios in which one could charge for smells. Imagine we were living on a moon base where we had to buy air by the liter. I could imagine air suppliers adding scents at an extra charge.
The reason it seems ridiculous to us to treat smells as property is that it wouldn’t work to. It would work on a moon base, though.
What counts as property depends on what works to treat as property. And that not only can change, but has changed. Humans may always (for some definition of human and always) have treated small items carried on one’s person as property. But hunter gatherers didn’t treat land, for example, as property in the way we do. 
P.S. Thanks Wendy Day.