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

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Wed Feb 17 10:35:40 EST 2010

> -----Original Message-----

> > The concept of "property" and "property rights" is far more
> > flexible and much less dichotomous that you seem to
> > understand.
> Not if you understand the history of IP addressing. They have
> always been loaned out to organizations who have technical

A loan is a conditional transfer of property rights. 

> justification under terms which included "IP addresses are
> not property". 

You can make any assertions you like about social ontology ("not property") but that doesn't change the basic reality of what is going on. A loan, lease or assignment always confers specific rights upon the recipient of a resource and retains specific rights for the person making the loan/lease/assignment. Ya'll seem to be hung up on the word property for reasons that have no practical basis. I don't (and I suspect Bill Herrin doesn't) care whether you call those "property rights" or "lemonade", what we care about are the obligations, claims and conditions associated with the transfer of resources from one party to another. 

Categorical, ideological assertions that addresses are "not property" does nothing to clarify, or make more reasonable and just, the conditions users and organizations face when receiving addresses from ARIN. All it seems to be is a blanket (and increasingly panicky) assertion of absolute power by a monopoly institution.

> Trying to apply property rights to something
> that has explicitly been "not property" for many years
> is beyond the flexibility of the concept.

As I said before, this is because you have a rigid concept of property rights and seem to be unaware of how that term is used by people in law, economics, regulatory economics, and policy. I respect your knowledge of the technical configuration of routing and addressing, I just think in this area you don't know what you're talking about. 

> You can only buy and sell contracts if the contracts
> are specifically structured to accomodate this. That
> is the whole basis of derivatives. However, the ARIN
> contracts do not grant exclusive assignment in the way
> that you are using the term.

Now we are getting somewhere more reasonable. Yes, contracts can be structured to allow the parties more or less rights, more or less exclusivity, more or less transferability. But that is a choice. So lets have a discussion about that. It is obvious that ARIN does not allow free transferability of the rights it assigns, but this is just a policy decision it makes and that policy could be modified in hundreds of ways. You contribute nothing useful to that policy debate by making the word "property rights" a taboo and attempting to banish it from the discussion. 

> ARIN grants exclusivity
> only insofar as they guarantee to you that they will
> not grant the same addresses to any other party. But
> your right to use the addresses is always strictly
> limited to technical needs, and when those needs go
> away, you no longer have a right to the addresses.
> This is one of the reasons why ARIN contracts cannot
> be used to exchange property rights.

Except, of course, when one business buys another (an obvious exchange of property rights). And except when the address transfer policy is invoked. And except when we are talking about IPv6 and no real needs assessment is performed. And except when we decide to use some other criterion for assigning addresses. Except.... get the point? 

There is ALWAYS going to be a dialogue about what rights assignees have in relation to the assigning authority and we will always have a lot of options to consider.  

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