[arin-ppml] IPv4 Transfer policies - questions, definitions, thoughts, suggestions

Brian Dickson briand at ca.afilias.info
Sun Jun 8 17:52:53 EDT 2008

I've been giving thought to the general area of IPv4 transfers-for-money.

I thought I'd share some observations I've come up with, as well as 
questions, suggestions, and definitions which might help with coming to 
a consensus on major issues.

If we can collectively work out the big things, quite possibly the small 
things will become moot and/or work themselves out.

That said, here's what I have come up with so far...

I apologize for this being a bit long. I'll try to be brief where 
possible, and/or follow up on my own posting in separate threads.

First, an observation: IPv4 Internet addresses (as in, used on the 
"public Internet") are finite.

This means that any policies that don't address this or aren't 
compatible with a "zero sum game", may be fatally flawed because they 
are open to abuse.

Second, a suggestion: any policy framework devised in any RIR region, or 
globally (IANA), should create an implicit bias towards those actually 
using IPv4 space, and against any participation by non-users (e.g. 

The reason for this is, what I think the obvious answer to the following 
question is:

"Would the existence of speculators, who purchase IPv4 address space 
largely or solely for the purpose of profiting from the (re)sale of IPv4 
address space, harm the 'IPv4 community' (those who actually use IPv4 

I believe the answer to this question is "Yes.".

I think the simplest corollary to the answer "yes" should be, that any 
policy regarding transfer of IPv4 space, should inherently discourage 
speculation. Rather than doing so by defining bad behavior, create a set 
of rules where there is no ability to benefit except indirectly, by 
acquiring IPv4 space that is needed and using it to operate one's own 

Here's a suggestion on how this could be framed:

Apply the three laws of thermodynamics ("You can't win; You can't break 
even; You can't quit the game") to transfers:

(1) You can't win: No resale of IPv4 space for net profit on a per-unit 
basis. (This would include buying block A and selling block B, perhaps 
with some special case exclusions where actual aggregation is the net 
side-effect of the purchase and sale.)
(2) You can't break even: On an aggregate basis, any organizations 
transactions in IPv4 transfers must be a net increase in IPv4 space. The 
one exception would be the sale of previously assigned (but not 
purchased) space by an RSA or LRSA signatory.
(3) You can't quit the game: If, for any reason, an entity to whom IPv4 
space is registered, stops announcing that space on a permanent basis 
(e.g. because they have ceased operations, such as under a bankruptcy 
situation), then that address space may be reclaimed by 
(ARIN/IANA/RIR/whoever assigned it). This may be for consideration, but 
not for a net profit to the registrant, .e.g pro-rata or full refund at 
original price of purchase.

I'm not suggesting that these suggestions are enough to form a complete 
policy, or even that they will be workable.

However, I would encourage thinking about the issue of how to make it 
impossible for anyone, participant or non-participant, to abuse the 
transfer policy for profit, in as simple a way as possible.

For example, the rules above, still leave open the issues of who 
operates, monitors, etc., the market itself, without placing any 
significant restrictions on how those can be resolved.

On the other hand, if the rules prevent anyone from profiting on resale, 
speculators will not participate at all, I would suggest.


Brian Dickson

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