How do you define an orbit for property purposes?
I'm sure there are many definitions. I'm also pretty sure that orbits are already defined in some fashion because there are thousands of satellites up there that (IIRC) have never collided in the 50 years we've been putting stuff up there. I'm pretty sure that a company devoted to registering orbits would come up with a pretty good way of describing them.
You are completely
wrong about that. There is no overall coordination. Cooperation between any two countries will vary widely. For instance on space, the USA and Russia cooperate. The USA has absolutely no cooperation in space with China. The thousands of satellites have never collided simply because each has maneuvering capability and because space is a big enough place that they rarely come close to each other unintentionally.
Any thought to the contrary is wishful thinking on your part.
That there are important orbits that may have many things in them. (Geostationary orbit is the most notable example.)
Said company(s) would start their registries non-empty.
Considering the number of companies and governments that have satellites in geostationary orbit, and the economic importance of those satellites (ever heard of satellite TV?), ownership of geocentric orbit is very problematical. And even if you assigned ownership, if India (say) decided to put an unapproved satellite into geocentric orbit, what is the "owner" going to do about it?
That orbital mechanics are chaotic, so any object placed in orbit will eventually wind up in a different orbit.
Either that can be accounted for in a satellite without the ability to maneuver or maneuvering capability would be required.
You should assume that satellites have maneuvering capability. They invariably do because they need the capability to maneuver perfectly into their final orbit, and there is always some fuel left over. (Better too much than too little, if you run out and the satellite does not hit the right orbit, that's a failed launch.)
You should not take it as granted that it is always desirable for satellites to remain in one orbit. As I noted, one of the cheaper (and admittedly slower) ways to get to the Moon is through using the orbital chaos, which necessarily means going through lots of other orbits.
For each owner of an orbit, it is easier to just avoid stuff crossing your orbit than it is to clean that stuff up.
If you don't want to clean it up and feel you can avoid it, then great! I've gone without health insurance for months at a time in the past. Even though I was fine, I still pay through the nose right now for it. If I just paid M$50 to make a satellite and get it into the right orbit and I have B$20 in future revenues riding on it, I'll be willing to pay M$10 (or something in that range) to increase its chances of survival. It's almost like a company that pays for improvements in a CPAN module. The company is paying for the benefits they are reaping and costs are calculated from that perspective. That there is an improvement to a commonly-held property is good advertising.
The point that you just missed is that your attempt to avoid the tragedy of the commons by asserting property rights just failed horribly. Any specific piece of junk crosses many, many orbits. Many pieces of junk cross any particular orbit. Junk is individually easy to dodge, only needs to be dodged very rarely, but it is difficult to remove the junk. The result? Nobody will find it in their interest to ever remove any junk.
Also any attempt to clean up junk that is crossing one orbit is fairly likely to move it into someone else's orbit.
I think BrowserUk's solution would work quite nicely. With registration of lower orbits, that kind of work is pretty simple to time.
Clearly neither you nor BrowserUk
studied physics. As my reply to him showed, his solution is untenable.
Even if you propose a solution to these problems, you have the bigger problem of how to agree on regulations that have to cover multiple countries. Do you really think that China or India is in any mood to accept a division imposed by the USA, Europe and Russia about who may use what parts of space? And what about the smaller powers? According to Wikipedia there are 45 countries with space agencies. Many, admittedly, do not launch their own satellites. But getting that many countries to agree on a complex legal system involving space is going to be very, very tricky.
What legal system? The only thing that even touches legalities is what courts to use for civil suits. Multinationals have been dealing with that issue since well before the East India Tea Company. Forum-shopping is a completely normal part of corporate law. If there's a crime on board a ship (or other space entity), you apply the provisions currently attaining to a crime at sea. That's worked well enough for hundreds of years. The key here is to avoid the nation-states and to appeal to the corporations. Yes, corporations are rapaciously greedy bastards that look out only for number 1. I can't think of many countries that don't qualify for that description.
The legal system that would be necessary to register and enforce any kind of private ownership of orbits. Particularly when there is nothing resembling a scarcity of orbits that are available, and there is no incentive for any country to pay attention to any other country.
I don't have all the answers off the top of my head. I do believe, very strongly, that all the issues you're raising are issues that are solvable by for-profit entities. And, frankly, solvable in better ways than nations could do so. In my eye, the "Tragedy of the Commons" is a for-profit opportunity to take the commons private for cheap, invest to improve it, then lease out usage. At least under private management, the commons wouldn't deteriorate because the owners have a motive to keep it in good shape.
Believe what you want.
For my part I believe, very strongly, that you are entirely and absolutely wrong on this subject. You have demonstrated complete ignorance of the relevant economic theory, physics, and international law affecting this matter. Instead you have a blind faith in the magic of private markets and no awareness of the well documented limitations of markets, nor the necessary role of governmental regulation in creating them.
This thread is a reminder to me that I should be careful about deciding whether to enter non-programming conversations on a programming website. Because it is frustrating trying to convince people of basic facts that they don't get because they lack the relevant background, and when they don't even realize that the relevant background is important to know. At least when discussing programming, people are more likely to have the background they need to understand the points which are made.