[arin-ppml] Policy Proposal 108: Eliminate the term license in the NRPM

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Fri Feb 12 17:25:11 EST 2010

> I don't see it that way.  Numbers are "facts of nature" and 
> one _cannot_ own them (though some fraudsters might try to 
> convince you otherwise to make a quick buck).  What ARIN 
> deals with are slots in a registration database, and as the 
> owner of that database ARIN can do whatever it
> wants with those slots.  If a property owner decides to rent its
> property out rather than sell it, that doesn't contradict 
> public policy in any way.  In fact, this is perfectly in line 
> with how one (in effect, if not precisely) rents ZIP codes, 
> phone numbers, radio frequencies, Social Security Numbers, etc.

Oh, I love this post! 

> Numbers are "facts of nature" and one _cannot_ own them 

Two observations. 

1. Owning (i.e., maintaining exclusive control of the right to use and benefit from) an ip address or block is not "owning a number." A number is an abstract concept (not a fact of nature), and assigning me does not give me the right to prevent you from using 10,101,010 in a mathematical equation, or from naming your restaurant, or from creating a silver bracelet composed or those numerals, or from writing that number on your wall, etc., etc. There is utterly no connection betweem the property status of ip addresses and the property status of "numbers." I declare this argument officially dead.

2. If ownership of ip addresses were truly impossible we wouldn't need a statement of policy from ARIN that ip addresses are not property and we wouldn't be having five years of debate over making ip addresses transferable, now would we? So if it's all impossible let's not worry about it, cuz it won't/can't happen. I declare that argument self-contradictory.

> as the 
> owner of that database ARIN can do whatever it
> wants with those slots. 

Ah. Ownership suddenly reasserts itself. Suddenly, absolute property rights _do_ have a place in this discourse. 

So let's get this straight. If it's ordinary internet users and organizations asserting some kind of a property right over the addresses they depend on, this is evil, selfish and will destroy the internet. But its ok for a centralized organization, ARIN, to assert ownership of the entire database and a corresponding right to do "whatever it wants" with the resource. 

Voila. The enemies of property have, through the dialectical process, become their logical opposite. 

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