[arin-ppml] large vs small?

michael.dillon at bt.com michael.dillon at bt.com
Wed Jun 17 10:34:38 EDT 2009

> > IP Addresses are neither purchased nor leased, rented, etc. 
> from ARIN.
> RFC 2008: 
> 'An "address lending" policy means that an organization gets 
> its addresses on a "loan" basis. For the length of the loan, 
> the lender cannot lend the addresses to any other borrower.'

That RFC was just an engineering view of current best practice in 1996,
possibly published because RFC 1466 hadn't been updated. Not long after,
RFC 2050 was published by the RIRs collectively and that has been the
basis for RIR policy ever since.

Remember that RFC means Request For Comment, it isn't a legal document
or even a policy document.

> There is the official party line, the ideology of RIRs,

They are the ones who officially have control of the various Internet
number spaces, delegated to them by IANA. And like any political
party, they change their policies to reflect public input.

> Since RFC 2008, RIRs have leased -- by any 
> common-sensical notion of the term - address blocks to end 
> users. 

A lease is a contract in which an asset user agrees to pay
regular payments to an asset owner, and to give up control
of the asset at the end of the lease, or buy out the ownership
of the asset for a price which is agreed as part of the lease
package. If there is no payment then there is no contract and
consequently there is no lease. IP addresses clearly are not
being leased by anybody.

You can't really apply commercial terminology to the relationship
between IP address registries and IP address holders, which is
no doubt why the authors of RFC 2008 used quotes to indicate that
they did not literally mean address lending and loan, but something
that superficially appears to be similar to those things.

> I am not sure why the official priesthood of the RIRs insist 
> on using words in this specific way now. It is possible that 
> their lawyers tell them to, or it is possible that the 
> ideology of nonownership of addresses has become fetishized 
> and taken on a life of its own.

It's because there is a chain of delegation from the Defense Department
to the Department of Commerce to IANA to the RIRs, and the power that
the RIR have inherited is limited by those earlier agreements. RIRs
simply do not have the right to monetize the IP address space, which
is why those in favor of allowing "sale" of IP addresses have come up
with such a convoluted process to enable the possibility of such

> This is nonsense, and not only because many states allow you 
> to buy vanity plates, sometimes even in auctions, but because 
> the number of license plates is not a fixed resource that 
> requires conservation policies. 

I think that you will find there is a legally required size for
licence plates as well as a legally required minimum size for the
numbers/letters, both of which do create a fixed bounded resource.
For instance vanity plates in California can have a maximum of
7 characters which happens to also be the length of the longest
licence plate numbers currently in use, also in California.

> At any rate, no DMV will have 
> any trouble telling you that you pay a fee for the license 
> plate and if you want X vehicle registrations you pay X*<the fee>

But IP address registrations are not the same as licence plate 
registrations. In fact they are not the same as primary school
or voter registration either. You can only take an anlogy so far.

--Michael Dillon

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