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Legacy IPv4 Address standing with USG

ARIN has posted a set of letters and links in response to a letter from the general counsel of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) that was circulated widely on the Internet in the fall of 2012.  This letter was previously written about in a blog entry here and the on Internet Governance Project website.

John Curran, the CEO of ARIN, wrote a letter to the general counsel of the NSF in response to the leaked private letter.  In the letter, Mr. Curran requested that the NSF revoke its previous letter or clarify the early IP address assignment context of the letter.  The letter also goes on the state ARIN’s case for why it believes it should be the registry of record for these legacy IP resource records and why they should be subject to the same community driven stakeholder policy process as IP address assignments made today by the RIRs.

In a letter, dated November 7th, 2012, the general counsel of the NSF responded to Mr. Curran’s letter and stepped back from some of the statements made previously in the earlier private letter.  Specifically noting that the NSF does not speak for the USG on the issue of Internet governance, the NTIA is the appropriate government agency to represent the USG in this area, and that the previous letter was a private letter observation on the NSF’s historical role in the development of the Internet.

This response now seems to erode the idea, that some members of the Internet community have posited, the NSF letter endorsed that legacy IP address assignments should be treated more like property rather than a resource licensed for a specific use.

ARIN’s website on their legacy address information page also now notes the following:

On December 3, 2012, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) formally commented on the USG’s Internet protocol numbering principles, including that it recognizes ARIN as the RIR for this region. This NTIA guidance is a clear response to the issues raised by an earlier letter from National Science Foundation General Counsel (NSF GC).

NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling posted a blog entry on the US Department of Commerce’s NTIA website clarifying the NTIA’s approach to IP addressing in the US.  In the blog entry, Mr. Strickling specifically notes that the USG supports the existing multistakeholder model for development of Internet technical standards and processes, that the RIRs “are responsible for developing policies for the use of IP numbers within their respective specific geographic regions,” ARIN is the RIR for the United States, and that the “USG believes that all IP numbers are allocated for use on a needs basis and should be returned to the numbering pool when no longer needed.”

For those, who still believe that legacy IP addresses should be outside of existing RIR framework and not subject the the needs based policies which have been supported by the Internet community for more than a decade, this series of events only appears to further strengthen the case that the legacy IP address assignments should fall under ARIN’s role as the registry of record and that the USG appears prepared to defend that position in the United States.


Category: IPv4, ARIN, IPv4 xfer
  • Mike Burns says:

    I have read Mr. Curran’s letter, which relies on his personal assertion about what legacy holders “should” have known, verbiage from non-contractual documents called “Requests for Comments” (RFC2050) and selected words from a press release to claim ARIN control over things of value distributed by a prior entity before ARIN even came into existence.

    Couple that with the fact that ARIN never asserted this right they believe to have, that is the right to revoke unutilized ip address assets. Public evidence in the Nortel sale of addresses indicates that ARIN was aware before the bankruptcy judge approved the Sale Order that Nortel was selling rights to addresses which were allocated and registered to entities other than Nortel, entities which had clearly ceased operating some time before and which were not utilizing the address space. The fact that ARIN did not exercise, and in fact have never exercised this right means that even if it does exist, it is vitiated by the legal concept of laches, which provides an affirmative defense in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

    How about ARIN point to a contract which clearly demonstrates that it has the power to control “things of value” doled out by prior entities (in a retrospectively haphazard manner), doled out by individuals and corporations designated to the task by the appropriate US agency? These entities did not choose the simple and wise expedient of producing some agreement attached to the allocations which specified or limited the rights and priviledges afforded with the allocation.

    Now the horse is out of the barn for the legacy holders who were the builders of the early Internet, but ARIN seeks to arrogate itself over them and exert control for which there is no contractual provision.

    Finally, the author misleads when he claims that the response letter from NSF dated November 7th “steps back” from previous statements. I invite readers to read the letters for themselves and not to rely on this author’s opinion. The first letter never asserted that the NSF speaks for the US government and never asserted that the letter was anything but a private letter or that the NTIA was not the appropriate agency, so describing the second letter as stepping back from these assertions is wrong.It’s a short letter and I note no retraction or stepping back of a single item in his detailed first letter.

    Likewise a blog entry from Lawrence Strickland and an update on an ARIN website have no legal significance whatsoever, and should not be read as the author has, as eroding legacy holder rights.

    For those interested in a different perspective from an informed attorney, please read http://apps.americanbar.org/buslaw/blt/content/2012/11/article-04-rubi.shtml

    Mike Burns

    February 15, 2013 at 17:48
  • John Curran says:

    Mike –

    Alas, your comment that “These entities did not choose the simple and wise expedient of producing some agreement attached to the allocations which specified or limited the rights and priviledges afforded with the allocation.” is incorrect, as the NSF Cooperative Agreement under which the work was done specifically indicates that the work was to be done in accordance IETF’s RFCs, including subsequent documents to be issued. These RFCs, defining the policies of the Internet Registry system, do indeed limit the rights those receiving allocations, and this all occurred _before_ ARIN was even formed. Mr. Rubi’s assertions that the letter “clearly lends support and the U.S. government’s imprimatur to the emerging trend that property rights exist in IPv4 numbers” likely needs to be revisited in light of the NSF GC’s follow-up letter indicated the Department of Commerce/NTIA speaks for the USG in these matters and subsequent NTIA statement of principles.


    John Curran
    President and CEO

    February 22, 2013 at 11:38

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