North American Network Operators Group

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RE: BGP Security and PKI Hierarchies

  • From: Matthew Kaufman
  • Date: Fri Nov 25 16:03:18 2005

Michael Dillon:
> Do you suppose that if a Microsoft salesman had given me a 
> free copy of Windows back in 1990, I would have a right to 
> use any version of Windows for free forever?

Any version? No. That version, particularly its fixed representation as an
unchanged string of binary digits? Probably, but maybe not.. But that's
because Microsoft can copyright long strings of binary digits as software
and sell you a restricted license to use it.

Note that small integers, unlike software, aren't easy to copyright,
trademark, or "own" in any of the other traditional senses.

Back in the early 1990s, I proposed to number my machines that I planned to
attach to the Internet with small integers chosen from a small range.
Conveniently, at the time, there was an organization that helped, at no
charge to the end users, to make sure that no two people chose the same
numbers, and so I allowed them to help make sure there was no conflict.

Since that time, I've arranged to have those numbers listed in one or more
BGP announcements on the global Internet.

And, over that time, nobody else that I've noticed has also tried to use and
announce the same numbers... I suppose if that sort of thing happened a lot,
the Internet would be much less stable and useful (and filled with lawyers,
no doubt, arguing over their proposed "solutions" to the problem), so it is
nice that nobody has chosen to do so.

If there ever comes a time when there's an actual shortage of unique numbers
that are routable, I suspect things will get more Interesting.

Matthew Kaufman
[email protected]