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[ih] Some Questions over IPv4 Ownership

On Oct 11, 2010, at 1:59 PM, Ernie Rubi wrote:
> 1.  Who 'owned' IP addresses ab initio?

No one.  IP addresses are just addresses, they're not owned.  Their interesting property is their unique assignment, not some intrinsic value.

> Were IP addresses 'property' of any one entity or person or agency?


> What is the authority ICANN /  IANA had to allocate these addresses if they are not 'theirs.'

There was a chain of responsibility that was handed down from DARPA / DODNIC / IANA / RIRs, by agreement between the USG and the Internet stakeholder community.

> 2.  Initially, were large blocks of IPv4 addresses 'handed out' with a complete ownership interest to their recipients?

No.  They were allocated based upon documented need, as described in RFC 2050.  The sizes of allocation blocks have changed over time, of particular note during the switch-over from classful to classless subnetting, and in a gradual increase in fineness of granularity since then.

> For example, when you received an /16, was it yours to transfer to other entities if you pleased?

No, that would violate the need-based principle upon which they were assigned.  You were always free to return the allocation to the allocating registry if and when it was no longer needed.  If someone else needs it, they document their need, present it to the registry, and get what they need.

> Could you have transferred sub-allocations of your /16 to other entities who weren't your customers/connectors?

You can sell crack on a street-corner, but that doesn't mean that people will think you're a respectable businessman.  The issue here is that if you sub-allocated to someone who you didn't actually route to, you (a) would have no documented need for it, and (b) wouldn't be keeping the delegation path following the routing path, so the prefix aggregation would break...  in short, there would be no point in it.  Like selling bicycles to fish.  Those other entities could, much more easily, just go their their own space directly from the registry, and it wouldn't come with all those problems, and everybody would be able to hold their heads up in polite society, and polite society would choose to route the prefix, because it wouldn't be violating aggregation, and wouldn't be chewing up resources on everybody else's router.

If you're really going to study these issues, you need to understand the economics of them, and not just gloss over it with the assumption that they're just numbers and any old random values can be attached to them.  The numbers aren't where the money is.  The routing is where the money is.  Just like buying and selling real-estate...  if you started making deals for street addresses, without looking at whether there was any land behind them, or where the land was, or how it could be reached, you'd lose your shirt very quickly.  The questions you're asking are about street addresses, rather than about land.

> 3.  Were the initial IPv4 allocations rolled into RIRs/ICANN at any point? If so, under what legal framework?

The Legacy Registration Services Agreement:   https://www.arin.net/resources/legacy/