ICANN and Internet confusion, domain names and monopolies

Trutherator: “You could also say that Microsoft didn’t ‘muscle out’ any competing software applications, but we can understanding rejecting such ‘technical’ (picayune) points. They did it by using their entrenched de facto position.”

SC: I take it you support competition law, then.

Trutherator: What I do support is competition in a genuine free market.

I do NOT support “competition law”, I support competition. There is a BIG difference, because “competition law” does not respect true competition. It is decreed by kings in monarchies or in true republics, it would be created by legislators, enforced by executives, and each case decided by judges.

It’s like Ron Paul said about so-called “free trade agreements”. They have nothing to do with free trade, and everything to do with managed trade. It is only international commerce regulation.

Free trade would mean elimating all tarrifs. It would take four lines of legislation, and a lot less customs personnel.

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SC: ICANN is a non-profit “recognized” by California law.

Trutherator: The more proper word is “created by” the state of California, with the intention of deciding the rules for DNS. This inescapable fact has justified the occasional demands that the UN take over the function.

SC:True enough, The same thing can be said about property, too. Also, your use of “state” is slightly off. A state is a sovereign political entity. A state has a government. Just as there are different forms of government, there are also different types of states. The United States and Russia, for example, are both federal states. China, on the other hand, is a unitary state. The European Union exists in its own sort of category.

Trutherator: First, the same thing cannot possibly be applied to property. This is another example of the confusion in the minds of people that are taught that without government there is no concept of “property”. No, government arose historically when big bad guys conquered their neighbors and started issuing decrees involving property. Ludwig von Mises’ books, “Human Action” and “Socialism”, are resources that clarify the origins and definitions of “property”.

ICAAN, on the other hand, would not exist without a decree from the state of California. It is a rule-making body that controls the DNS.

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Trutherator: “In the real world, though, one of the reasons that ICANN began adding new top-level domains when it did (‘info’, ‘biz’, and others), was precisely to cut out the free market attempts to alternatives that were already providing DNS indexes with those precise suffixes.”

SC: No. Just no. The domain name system has nothing to do with the market. Totally different context. Domain names are a type of property.

Trutherator: Of course I understand that the “domain name system has nothing to do with the market”! That is the problem I am talking about! And that is why when you go to the ronpaul.com domain name, you get a group of people whose only claim to it is that they laid claim first to the name for their own purposes and claimed that they were using their profits to advance Ron Paul’s campaign.

In a true free market inter-networking system one may claim it would end up in a similar situation, but one may not claim to know how it would.

The concept of “domain names” is viewed as property in the context of how the Internet grew and I can understand how this can cause confusion. Within my company’s network, internally, we can name our nodes (individual computers) however we want, and we can network them however we want.

IBM formerly used token-ring methodology to link systems, and I suppose it may well still be used lots of places, for example.

But now IP dominates both within company intranetworks and now, out-facing, meaning, Internet, and the address protocol. Domain names are simply “address books” where you look up a name, a “domain name”, and it gives you the “IP address” or “Internet Protocol address”.

I expanded a bit on the detail for the sake of readers that may not know it.

The domain names by which we all know how to get to web sites or send email, are controlled right now by an organization created by the state of California. Its behavior has been acceptable in general so far, but we know two things that make this arrangement rife with danger for the purported aims.

One, state law and federal law can conceivably begin encroaching;

Two, the deciding members can change;

Three, it is vulnerable to the whims of international intrigues and backroom deals and political shenanigans;

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SC: You seem to believe property can only be tangible, but this is not the case. Debt is a type of intangible property. As are stocks, spectrum rights, bonds, and copyrights.

Trutherator: The concept of “property”, unfortunately, that we grew up with has been conflated with “whatever government says it is”.

The best parsing out of the whole concept of “property” that I have seen is explained in Ludwig von Mises’ book, “Socialism”, available as a downloadable pdf without charge at the following link:
https://mises.org/books/socialism.pdf

I would recommend it for those who at least would like to understand how libertarians regard the word and concept “property”, as in the real world and not one decreed by the whims of politicians and people who run governments.

Legitimate “debt” is something that comes from voluntary agreements between two or more persons. One may not impose a legitimate “debt” upon another without his agreement. Such a “debt” is extortion, and if it is “collected”, it is pure theft.

That is why the income tax is theft write massively large. Its “necessity” is imposed. I do not consent. But it is extorted. I did not agree to any social contract.

“Copyright” is a government grant of monopoly and censorship that I never agreed to. It is a completely arbitrary extortion scheme in essence. There is no easy “natural” way to define it. That’s why we have the legal brambles in case law on it. “Fair use”, for example, has a great big blurry definition. Obvious exceptions to make it workable were made for “fair use”.

So “look and feel” is supposed to be copyrightable, but the courts made an obvious exception when they ruled against Apple over the “look and feel” of the first
Windows “operating system”, which was really just DOS, with a wrapper that was meant to emulate the Mac’s “look and feel”.

Now, as a developer, somebody can come along and write the obvious optimal algorithm to solve a computing task, but if I already put a copyright on it, I can force him to fork over some of the fruits of his intellectual labor even though he used none of mine.

A believer in a free market should regard copyright laws and patent laws as grants of monopoly power by governments, and anti-competitive.

BIG DIFFERENCE DISCLAIMER HERE TO AVOID MISUNDERSTANDING (Caps to emphasize the point and to aid in focus): I am a strong believer in giving credit where credit is due. That’s why I prefer a free market in information, which would most likely resolve the issues that copyright and patents are supposed to address and do so poorly with. It would surely take care of the “trademark” concept too.

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Trutherator: “The creators of the United Nations have claimed a monopoly on its ‘functionality’.”

SC: That still doesn’t make it a monopoly. You’re using that word in a strange way. Nevertheless, there are still other international organizations like the ICC, NATO, and others.

Trutherator: NATO is a UN-chartered organization, something never mentioned in most news and information sources.

The ICC established the UN-deference relationship when it “gave” the United Nations the power to expand its own venue. The UN is probably mentioned in its charter as well.

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Trutherator: “This would be in the interest of a power-hungry clique of already powerful elites, not at all for the rest of us.”

SC: This is kind of ironic given accusations like this are made against libertarianism.

Trutherator: So what? Ad hominems and ironies are useless in parsing the issues here, and you are more intellectually honest than that heretofore.

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3 Responses to “ICANN and Internet confusion, domain names and monopolies”

  1. S.C. Says:

    I can only deal with some of this right now, so I’ll have to come back later and add more.

    “First, the same thing cannot possibly be applied to property. This is another example of the confusion in the minds of people that are taught that without government there is no concept of ‘property’.”

    Property requires law. Law requires enforcement. Whoever is doing the enforcing *is* governing.

    “No, government arose historically when big bad guys conquered their neighbors and started issuing decrees involving property.”

    Decrees like ones that *establish* property rules?

    “Ludwig von Mises’ books, ‘Human Action’ and ‘Socialism’, are resources that clarify the origins and definitions of ‘property’.”

    I wouldn’t consider an economist to be a go to source of information on political philosophy, law, or anthropology. “Property” is only ~300 years old as a term and later came to be used in a variety of ways:
    •John Locke: “[E]very Man has a Property in his own Person.”
    •James Madison: “[A] man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.”
    •Thomas Jefferson: “It is agreed by those who have seriously considered the subject that no individual has, of natural right, a separate property in an acre of land, for instance.”

    Pay keen attention to the “property in” part.

    “I would recommend it for those who at least would like to understand how libertarians regard the word and concept ‘property’, as in the real world and not one decreed by the whims of politicians and people who run governments.”

    “Legitimate ‘debt’ is something that comes from voluntary agreements between two or more persons. One may not impose a legitimate “debt” upon another without his agreement. Such a ‘debt’ is extortion, and if it is ‘collected’, it is pure theft.”

    So you can’t make someone pay for damages?

    “I did not agree to any social contract.”

    Neither did I. Then again, I’m not a contractarian. No person ever agrees to when they’re born, who they’re born to, or the rules of the society that they’re born into. Whether or not someone “consents” to the rules of justice is always besides the point.

  2. S.C. Says:

    Just to add, Trutherator, is that you miss the point. Before you can even buy and sell domain names, you must first have a system in place for handling it. This is where ICANN comes in. Laws and rules logically PRECEDE markets, therefore neither ICANN nor traditional government can be called monopolies as you so haphazardly claim.

    As for your reasons about domain names not being property because they aren’t tangible: so what? What difference does that make at all?

    “Within my company’s network, internally, we can name our nodes (individual computers) however we want, and we can network them however we want.”

    That really doesn’t change anything.

  3. trutherator Says:

    Laws and rules must precede FREE markets in cultures where the two sides to a transaction share the same understanding of those laws and rules.

    If you mean a government or third party with the biggest guns must precede a market, then it is NOT a FREE MARKET.

    Historically, of course, “the free market” did in fact PRECEDE all governments.

    If the ICANN were a completely private concern, then their rule-making would be legitimate. Since they are the only place to go, they are only “quasi-” legitimate.

    Even the first detractors in the case of Ron Paul subtly and inadvertently recognized this, because the first hoot out against him was an accusation of hypocrisy because he was asking the United Nations to adjudicate his case.

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