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

David Farmer farmer at umn.edu
Fri Feb 12 18:17:07 EST 2010

Milton L Mueller wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: arin-ppml-bounces at arin.net 
>> [mailto:arin-ppml-bounces at arin.net] On Behalf Of David Farmer
>>> 1.1 Number resources are not property
>>> To serve the interests of the Internet community as a whole, number
>>> resources are not property (real, personal, or intellectual). The
>>> allocation and assignment of IP addresses, ASNs, and other number
>>> resources are subject to the terms of the ARIN Registration Services
>>> Agreement, the policies in this document, and any amendments as may be
>>> made to either one.
> David:
> What is the purpose of this? What does it accomplish technically, legally, politically or economically? How does it make IP addresses and routing function better? Does it make addresses more abundant, easier to use, etc.? 

As I said, its only intent is to edit text of the NRPM, no changes to 
the policy intent.  Do you believe this changes the policy intent of 6.4.1?

> The concept of "property" and "property rights" is far more flexible and much less dichotomous that you seem to understand. Radio spectrum has been declared a "public resource" since 1927 and the notion that they are "property" has attracted angry denunciations from Congresscritters and others for decades after. But anyone who understands what actually goes on in licensed spectrum and applies well-established and useful ways of thinking drawn from economics and law knows that the assignment of a license is in fact a grant of exclusivity, one that allows the person so granted to economically exploit the resource in regulated and conditioned ways, and which (in the case of spectrum) allows the grantee to sell the right, and thus qualifies in economic theory as a property right. The same is true of IP addresses, except that some people have an irrational fetish against the transfer of the resource for money (which of course doesn't stop it from happening routinely). 
> Oliver Williamson just received the Nobel Prize for his analysis of how contracts constitute an exchange of property rights. ARIN governs addresses via contract; i.e., it issues contracts granting exclusive assignment of a block of addresses. 
>> This is on a fast track to try to make it on to the Toronto 
>> meeting agenda, so any suggestions you might have would be 
>> appreciated by early to the middle of next week.
> My humble suggestion is that you abandon this proposal completely and do a bit more research into what the terms "license," "property" and "property rights" mean when used by lawyers, regulators, economists and institutionalists, and how those concepts are actually applied in the allocation and assignment of virtual resources. You can insist that addresses are "not property" until you are blue in the face. But as long as they are scarce, exclusive, transferable to some degree and can be used to generate economic value then they meet all the conditions of the definition of a property right. We can deal with reality, or we can deal with labels. 

So do you prefer the text in 6.4.1 as it is now?  I don't.

I believe that the text proposed is completely consistent with the 
policy intent 6.4.1 and the RSA, I'm not looking to change the policy 
intent of either, only change some bad text in my opinion.

Bill and Milton,

You have confirmed for me that this is a completely separate issue from 
the rest of PP#106, and that separating it from PP#106 was an essential 
move.  I would hate to see good policy changes for IPv6 to get bogged 
down in the debate you two seem to want to engage in.

If you would like to change the policy intent of 6.4.1 then you are 
welcome to make your own proposal.  I do not believe that this proposal 
opens up a policy debate on the merits of number resources being 
property.  While that certainly is an appropriate topic for PPML, I do 
not wish to engage in it, I would appreciate you take such a debate to a 
different thread.

Thank you.

David Farmer               Email:farmer at umn.edu
Networking & Telecommunication Services
Office of Information Technology
University of Minnesota	
2218 University Ave SE	    Phone: 612-626-0815
Minneapolis, MN 55414-3029   Cell: 612-812-9952

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