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[ih] Some Questions over IPv4 Ownership


On Mon, 11 Oct 2010 16:59:04 -0400, Ernie Rubi wrote:
> 1.  Who 'owned' IP addresses ab initio?  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.'

This seems shockingly ill-phrased, but then the whole "law school" 
thing seems to shine a light.

ISPs "sell" static IP addresses, as one of the services that they 
provide (I have one).  I don't "own" my IP address (it's the third or 
fourth ... maybe more than that? ... that I've had ... "static", 
right).  Well, if I owned it, I wouldn't pay for it every month, would 
I?  What I have, as a consequence of paying extra, is a routable 
address that is guaranteed not to change without notice (it does change 
*with* notice).

As someone else in the thread has pointed out, the map isn't the 
territory.  Likewise, the address isn't real estate.  It's even more 
imaginary than most imaginary property.  What *I* get, from a (single) 
static IP address, is the guarantee, from the 
person/organization/institution that "owns" the route into that block, 
is a route *out* of that block, into my machine (and the reverse route, 
from my machine, into their block, and from their block into the wider 
internet).  It's a lease; if I tried to sell my static IP to someone 
else, my ISP would whack me (and happily sell the lease to whoever it 
is I was trying to extract a rent from).

The principle extends to larger blocks.  I don't think that this has 
changed much from the early days (though I was too young, then, to do 
anything other than steal maintenance passwords to play adventure).  
The question *isn't* well-phrased as "who owns these IP addresses?"  It 
ought to be "who do I pay to get IP packets routed to me?"

Amelia A. Lewis                    amyzing {at} talsever.com
The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be 
regarded as a criminal offence.
                -- Edsger Dijkstra