About inetnum "ownership"

Owen DeLong owen at delong.com
Thu Mar 3 18:44:20 UTC 2016

> On Mar 1, 2016, at 21:44 , William Herrin <bill at herrin.us> wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 6:55 PM, Owen DeLong <owen at delong.com> wrote:
>> Unique registrations in the RIR databases may well be property.
> Hi Owen,
> Registration records property. Registrations are not the property recorded.
> The U.S. Supreme Court talks about property this way: "The right to
> exclude others [is] one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of
> rights that are commonly characterized as property." (Kaiser Aetna v.
> United States)

And you get no such right in IP addresses.

> Do I have the legal right to exclude others from announcing my block
> of IP addresses to the public Internet routing tables? It's not well
> tested in court but the odds are exceptionally strong that I do.
> Indeed, the whole point of registration is to facilitate determination
> of -who- has the exclusive right over -which- blocks of addresses.

Not so much, no.

First, there’s no good definition of “the public Internet” and there’s
no single definition of “public routing tables”.

There is, instead, the set of individually run networks who cooperate in
the exchange of traffic by sharing routes.

Any right to exclude would be a right to control how each and every one
of those networks operates. Since many of those networks are outside of
the jurisdiction of any court to which you would likely have access and
to the best of my knowledge there is no international court of competent
jurisdiction to compel ISPs around the world to obey any such order,
no, you have no right to exclude.

> The right to exclude is not the only one in the bundle of rights that
> is property but it is the primary and it is argued sufficient
> condition of property.
> http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1492&context=nlr
> Which brings us back around to what I said earlier: IP addresses are
> property but the legal precedent isn't as strong as might be nice.

I think I have shown that you do not have the right to exclude, so if you
have some other basis by which you think you can define these property
rights, let’s have it.

I argue that because what you actually mean by “the public Internet” is
a combination of so many different legal entities in so many not-necessarily-
overlapping jurisdictions and because there is no single jurisdiction to
which they are all subject, nor even necessarily any particular agreed
upon complete shared definition or enumeration of all of them, the ability
to enforce any sort of right to exclusion is nothing but a myth, making
any such alleged right also mythical.

>> IP addresses are so abstract and ephemeral in their nature
>> as to be impossible to treat as property
> Computers don't do abstraction. There's nothing abstract or
> particularly ephemeral about the use of IP addresses on the public
> Internet.

Please in a legal way define this single entity that you refer to as
“the public Internet” such that some court would have jurisdiction over
the entirety of its operations.

Then please define the venue of jurisdiction to which you would avail
yourself in order to compel said entity to obey such an order.

Indeed, the reason there aren’t any court precedents to support your
position is because when hijackings have occurred, the solution has
been to contact the provider and/or upstream providers of the one
engaged in hijacking. Case in point, the incident between YouTube
and AS17557 over Do you really think that the
Pakistani government would have ever punished Pakistan Telecom or
that YouTube could have obtained any useful injunctive relief in
that jurisdiction?

No, instead, they contacted PCCW and got voluntary cooperation in
no longer forwarding the announcement. This isn’t a sign of a right
of exclusion, but of a gentlemen’s agreement amongst service providers.


It would have been quite difficult for YouTube to get any sort of
injunctive relief against Pakistan Telecom. It might have been possible
for them to get injunctive relief against PCCW, but even that is iffy.

What if hundreds of other service providers had also forwarded the route?

YouTube would have needed injunctions against each and every one of them.

It’s not at all clear what happens with the ones that do operate in the US
where YouTube has the greatest likelihood of getting injunctive relief.

It’s even less clear what happens with any that are not subject to US


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