In earlier periods of much lower population levels many areas of land appeared to be unoccupied, especially when no notion of ownership was associated with them by scattered inhabitants. This allowed former colonial powers to claim and acquire these lands and to segment them into parcels and sell them as property. Encroachment on forest and wilderness areas may be undertaken in the same spirit. A similar approach is taken with respect to non-territorial resources, notably minerals and water (especially by depriving downstream land of river water or rain-bearing clouds). This logic is extended into traditional knowledge of indigenous communities with regard to valuable plants and animals. The logic legitimates commercial processes of biopiracy of local folk varieties of crops, traditional medicines and useful species, leading to the patenting of life. It may be extended into various forms of cultural piracy in which valued traditions are appropriated, repackaged and commercialized to the disadvantage of the originating culture.