Owner Release Laws

Some states have passed what are known as owner-release laws which absolve the owner of the land of responsibility for the safety of persons he has permitted to enter his property. In the form used in Texas, which is representative of many others (except that some restrict the wording to hunters only), the law states that the owner or lessee does not assure the guest that the premises are safe and that he does not take responsibility for the acts of the guests if they injure others. The law does not relieve the owner of responsibility for his own malicious or deliberate acts, nor does it apply if he uses the land for commercial recreation or charges admission. The Texas act limits its application to hunters, fishermen, or campers, but it might be extended to rock collectors, too.

Common decency and good policy alike suggest that some form of appreciation be shown for the owner's kindness toward the collector. This may take the form of a gift, such as a piece of jewelry or a book, or taking the owner out to dinner. Each collector represents all collectors by his public behavior. If he is selfish or inconsiderate, all collectors will be judged to be like him, and all collectors will suffer by finding collecting areas closed to them.

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