A company that holds a legacy address block recently sought an opinion from the General Counsel of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) about the legal status of its IPv4 address holdings.The answers make for an explosive entry in the emerging IPv4 address market. IGP Blog has obtained a copy of this letter with the name of the company and any other identifying information redacted.
The company had expressed concern “about its rights in and to a block of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) numbers” and about the “purported authority over it of the American Registry of Internet Numbers” (ARIN). The company bluntly asked the NSF “Is this IPv4 Number Block [ours]?” and “Can a newly-formed organization, such as ARIN, come along years later and attempt to control or take this Number Block from us?”
NSF General Counsel Lawrence Rudolph, who has been in that position since 1995, reviewed the applicable law and answered as follows:
NSF transferred a ‘thing of value’ to the awardee under the NSF-NSI Cooperative Agreement, and that awardee in turn gave it to you. …we [NSF] know of no provision under the Cooperative Agreement which would have authorized the awardee (NSI) to unilaterally reclaim IPv4 number blocks, once distributed.
The NSF has never had a cooperative agreement, or any other agreement, with ARIN or any other similarly situated entity. In short, NSF does not believe that ARIN, or for that matter any other organization, could retroactively affect property and rights distributed to you (or any other recipient) by awardee NSI under its Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation.
The NSF letter cuts the ground from under ARIN’s claims that it holds authority over the legacy address blocks not subject to a Registration Services Agreement (RSA) or Legacy Registration Services Agreement (LRSA) contract. The letter is available here.