[ppml] Proposed Policy: IPv4 Countdown

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at ipinc.net
Fri Mar 16 15:33:14 EDT 2007

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Owen DeLong [mailto:owen at delong.com]
>Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2007 6:52 PM
>To: Ted Mittelstaedt
>Cc: John Curran; ppml at arin.net
>Subject: Re: [ppml] Proposed Policy: IPv4 Countdown
>> 1) That IPv4 space means "all routable IPv4 space on the Internet"
>> including that which has not been assigned to a number registry?
>IPv4 space means the collection of 32 bit integers (when used as
>IP addresses).  However, the portion of the IPv4 space over which
>ARIN provides stewardship is limited to that which has been delegated
>to ARIN by IANA.

Well, Owen, it looks like you and John have differing ideas about
that. Check his response out to this question.

>> 2) That ARIN has the authority to revoke either complete or partial
>> IPv4 address assignments for reasons other than failure to pay the
>> bill for IP registration?
>There is no direct simple answer to that question because of the
>categories of addresses under current ARIN stewardship.  In the case
>of addresses issued under an ARIN Registration Services Agreement,
>generally, yes, there is the authority to revoke an assignment or
>allocation.  However, this ability has never been put to a legal test
>and it is unclear whether ARIN could prevail in such a suit.

Once more you and John differ.  I would tend to side with John here
anyway, because to get assigned addresses the organization must
agree to a contract.  Thus it is a simple contract violation, courts
have been dealing with these for years.

>  In the
>of legacy assignments and allocations, originally issued prior to the
>existence of ARIN, it is even less clear that ARIN has any ability to
>revoke them.

If ARIN's charter is responsible stewardship of IPv4 space and IPv4
space is defined to be all space even that not assigned to an RIR
then it seems to me that there is an issue there.  But, this is the
heart of the issue of IPv4 conservation - unless IPv4 space issued
prior to the RIR's is brought under control of an RIR then there is
no way to fairly allocate IPv4 space, once it becomes constricted.

>> My concern is that if condition #2 isn't acceptable, that any proposal
>> that aims to extend the life of IPv4 on the Internet is going to be
>> quashed.  Because, implicit in the idea of "IPv4 conservation" is
>> going
>> to be the idea that some IPv4 addresses that have been assigned in the
>> past under certain justifiction that was valid at the time the
>> assignment
>> was made, are no longer being used and the justification that was used
>> to assign them is no longer valid.
>If the community comes to consensus around a policy providing for
>#2, then, it will be acceptable at least until such time as the courts
>determine otherwise.  OTOH, if the community does not come to such
>a consensus, then, there is no policy to support such action.
>Currently, there is no policy to support such action.

Exactly, and this issue must be faced squarely or we are just wasting
our time on the whole issue of extending the life of IPv4 on the

>> I would assume as a given that any organization that has a large
>> assignment, or series of assignments, is going to find it easier to
>> merely continue to pay the bill then to go to the trouble of
>> inventorying
>> what they really are using.  Also, organizations might be
>> uncomfortable
>> with having a large contiguous allocation broken into smaller
>> contiguous allocations, then having an allocation out of the "middle"
>> of the contigious allocations reassigned to someone else.  In other
>> words, any attempt to "take back" assignments from organizations
>> that are current on their bill is going to be met with resistance
>> even if the organization willingly admits they aren't using the
>> numbers
>> themselves.
>I would say that the number of organizations who have returned
>portions of very large blocks over the last 15 years would constitute
>empirical evidence that while your first statement may be true, it
>is not necessarily true that organizations always choose what is
>easy over what is right.
>I will virtually guarantee you that any attempt to take back significant
>legacy holdings will be met with resistance.  Likely, any attempt to
>take back significant holdings will also be met with resistance, but,
>at least in that case, there is some level of plausibility that a
>exists which supports the action.

This is also an issue that must be faced squarely.  Any plan to
extend use of IPv4 past the actual end of allocatable blocks of
numbers must deal with the mechanism of finding and obtaining
previously-allocated blocks that are now unused.  Because there
isn't going to be anywhere else to get the IP space from.

The central issue is this: Are we going to allow it to become a
free market with blocks of unused space being traded, and the RIR's
merely presiding over a hog auction?

Or do we say that with a constricted resource that is an abstract
idea, that it is unfair for some organizations to be making profits
off blocks of numbers that they have no use for?

It seems to me that the current allocation scheme is fundamentally
based on the concept of need of addresses for your own use.  That
is, if I need addresses for my network, and I can demonstrate this
need, then I will get them.  It is not based on the idea that I need
a chunk of addresses so I can turn around and make a lot of money
selling them to someone who really does need them.  ISP's for example,
when they assign an IP address to a customer, if the customer quits
service, the IP address stays with the ISP.

This is a morality question of sorts.

In the history of human endeavor the idea has always existed that
abstract ideas belong to humanity as a whole, while it is OK for
concrete resources that people need to belong to a single individual
who then can get money for their foresight in acquiring and developing
the concrete resource.

For example a drug company makes up a new drug formula that saves lives.
That is an abstract idea.  The patent system exists to allow the company
to make a profit for a resonable period of time.  But once that patent
time has expired then the abstract idea, the new knowledge of how to make
the drug, now belongs to humanity as a whole.

Or for another example, a singer writes a song.  The recording of the
song is once more an abstract idea.  After a reasonable copyright period
the abstract idea now belongs to the world.

By contrast, someone discovers oil on their property.  No law exists
that says they have to give up this concrete resource to humanity after
any amount of time.

IP addresses are abstractions.  In my view, the concept of IP addressing
was first defined in BSD UNIX many years ago.  It is long, long, long
since any patent period would have expired.  Thus, these are abstractions
that belong to humanity as a whole.

Thus the idea is that fundamentally, any idea of creating a free market of
IP addresses being bought and sold, is tanasmount to patenting the Christian
idea of "do unto others" or it is tansamount to issuing a copyright on
"the happy birthday song"

Some others may argue that IP addressing is a concrete resource and it is
permitted for it to be bought and sold.  I'd like to see arguments for that


More information about the ARIN-PPML mailing list