Network Working Group                                          N. Freed
Request for Comments: 2049                                     Innosoft
Obsoletes: 1521, 1522, 1590                               N. Borenstein
Category: Standards Track                                 First Virtual
                                                          November 1996

                 Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
                           (MIME) Part Five:
                   Conformance Criteria and Examples

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


   STD 11, RFC 822, defines a message representation protocol specifying
   considerable detail about US-ASCII message headers, and leaves the
   message content, or message body, as flat US-ASCII text.  This set of
   documents, collectively called the Multipurpose Internet Mail
   Extensions, or MIME, redefines the format of messages to allow for

    (1)   textual message bodies in character sets other than

    (2)   an extensible set of different formats for non-textual
          message bodies,

    (3)   multi-part message bodies, and

    (4)   textual header information in character sets other than

   These documents are based on earlier work documented in RFC 934, STD
   11, and RFC 1049, but extends and revises them.  Because RFC 822 said
   so little about message bodies, these documents are largely
   orthogonal to (rather than a revision of) RFC 822.

   The initial document in this set, RFC 2045, specifies the various
   headers used to describe the structure of MIME messages. The second
   document defines the general structure of the MIME media typing
   system and defines an initial set of media types.  The third
   document, RFC 2047, describes extensions to RFC 822 to allow non-US-

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   ASCII text data in Internet mail header fields. The fourth document,
   RFC 2048, specifies various IANA registration procedures for MIME-
   related facilities. This fifth and final document describes MIME
   conformance criteria as well as providing some illustrative examples
   of MIME message formats, acknowledgements, and the bibliography.

   These documents are revisions of RFCs 1521, 1522, and 1590, which
   themselves were revisions of RFCs 1341 and 1342.  Appendix B of this
   document describes differences and changes from previous versions.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ..........................................    2
   2. MIME Conformance ......................................    2
   3. Guidelines for Sending Email Data .....................    6
   4. Canonical Encoding Model ..............................    9
   5. Summary ...............................................   12
   6. Security Considerations ...............................   12
   7. Authors' Addresses ....................................   12
   8. Acknowledgements ......................................   13
   A. A Complex Multipart Example ...........................   15
   B. Changes from RFC 1521, 1522, and 1590 .................   16
   C. References ............................................   20

1.  Introduction

   The first and second documents in this set define MIME header fields
   and the initial set of MIME media types.  The third document
   describes extensions to RFC822 formats to allow for character sets
   other than US-ASCII.  This document describes what portions  of MIME
   must be supported by a conformant MIME implementation. It also
   describes various pitfalls of contemporary messaging systems as well
   as the canonical encoding model MIME is based on.

2.  MIME Conformance

   The mechanisms described in these documents are open-ended.  It is
   definitely not expected that all implementations will support all
   available media types, nor that they will all share the same
   extensions.  In order to promote interoperability, however, it is
   useful to define the concept of "MIME-conformance" to define a
   certain level of implementation that allows the useful interworking
   of messages with content that differs from US-ASCII text.  In this
   section, we specify the requirements for such conformance.

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   A mail user agent that is MIME-conformant MUST:

    (1)   Always generate a "MIME-Version: 1.0" header field in
          any message it creates.

    (2)   Recognize the Content-Transfer-Encoding header field
          and decode all received data encoded by either quoted-
          printable or base64 implementations.  The identity
          transformations 7bit, 8bit, and binary must also be

          Any non-7bit data that is sent without encoding must be
          properly labelled with a content-transfer-encoding of
          8bit or binary, as appropriate.  If the underlying
          transport does not support 8bit or binary (as SMTP
          [RFC-821] does not), the sender is required to both
          encode and label data using an appropriate Content-
          Transfer-Encoding such as quoted-printable or base64.

    (3)   Must treat any unrecognized Content-Transfer-Encoding
          as if it had a Content-Type of "application/octet-
          stream", regardless of whether or not the actual
          Content-Type is recognized.

    (4)   Recognize and interpret the Content-Type header field,
          and avoid showing users raw data with a Content-Type
          field other than text.  Implementations  must be able
          to send at least text/plain messages, with the
          character set specified with the charset parameter if
          it is not US-ASCII.

    (5)   Ignore any content type parameters whose names they do
          not recognize.

    (6)   Explicitly handle the following media type values, to
          at least the following extents:


            -- Recognize and display "text" mail with the
            character set "US-ASCII."

            -- Recognize other character sets at least to the
            extent of being able to inform the user about what
            character set the message uses.

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            -- Recognize the "ISO-8859-*" character sets to the
            extent of being able to display those characters that
            are common to ISO-8859-* and US-ASCII, namely all
            characters represented by octet values 1-127.

            -- For unrecognized subtypes in a known character
            set, show or offer to show the user the "raw" version
            of the data after conversion of the content from
            canonical form to local form.

            -- Treat material in an unknown character set as if
            it were "application/octet-stream".

          Image, audio, and video:

            -- At a minumum provide facilities to treat any
            unrecognized subtypes as if they were


            -- Offer the ability to remove either of the quoted-
            printable or base64 encodings defined in this
            document if they were used and put the resulting
            information in a user file.


            -- Recognize the mixed subtype.  Display all relevant
            information on the message level and the body part
            header level and then display or offer to display
            each of the body parts individually.

            -- Recognize the "alternative" subtype, and avoid
            showing the user redundant parts of
            multipart/alternative mail.

            -- Recognize the "multipart/digest" subtype,
            specifically using "message/rfc822" rather than
            "text/plain" as the default media type for body parts
            inside "multipart/digest" entities.

            -- Treat any unrecognized subtypes as if they were

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            -- Recognize and display at least the RFC822 message
            encapsulation (message/rfc822) in such a way as to
            preserve any recursive structure, that is, displaying
            or offering to display the encapsulated data in
            accordance with its media type.

            -- Treat any unrecognized subtypes as if they were

    (7)   Upon encountering any unrecognized Content-Type field,
          an implementation must treat it as if it had a media
          type of "application/octet-stream" with no parameter
          sub-arguments.  How such data are handled is up to an
          implementation, but likely options for handling such
          unrecognized data include offering the user to write it
          into a file (decoded from its mail transport format) or
          offering the user to name a program to which the
          decoded data should be passed as input.

    (8)   Conformant user agents are required, if they provide
          non-standard support for non-MIME messages employing
          character sets other than US-ASCII, to do so on
          received messages only. Conforming user agents must not
          send non-MIME messages containing anything other than
          US-ASCII text.

          In particular, the use of non-US-ASCII text in mail
          messages without a MIME-Version field is strongly
          discouraged as it impedes interoperability when sending
          messages between regions with different localization
          conventions. Conforming user agents MUST include proper
          MIME labelling when sending anything other than plain
          text in the US-ASCII character set.

          In addition, non-MIME user agents should be upgraded if
          at all possible to include appropriate MIME header
          information in the messages they send even if nothing
          else in MIME is supported.  This upgrade will have
          little, if any, effect on non-MIME recipients and will
          aid MIME in correctly displaying such messages.  It
          also provides a smooth transition path to eventual
          adoption of other MIME capabilities.

    (9)   Conforming user agents must ensure that any string of
          non-white-space printable US-ASCII characters within a
          "*text" or "*ctext" that begins with "=?" and ends with

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          "?=" be a valid encoded-word.  ("begins" means: At the
          start of the field-body or immediately following
          linear-white-space; "ends" means: At the end of the
          field-body or immediately preceding linear-white-
          space.) In addition, any "word" within a "phrase" that
          begins with "=?" and ends with "?=" must be a valid

    (10)  Conforming user agents must be able to distinguish
          encoded-words from "text", "ctext", or "word"s,
          according to the rules in section 4, anytime they
          appear in appropriate places in message headers.  It
          must support both the "B" and "Q" encodings for any
          character set which it supports.  The program must be
          able to display the unencoded text if the character set
          is "US-ASCII".  For the ISO-8859-* character sets, the
          mail reading program must at least be able to display
          the characters which are also in the US-ASCII set.

   A user agent that meets the above conditions is said to be MIME-
   conformant.  The meaning of this phrase is that it is assumed to be
   "safe" to send virtually any kind of properly-marked data to users of
   such mail systems, because such systems will at least be able to
   treat the data as undifferentiated binary, and will not simply splash
   it onto the screen of unsuspecting users.

   There is another sense in which it is always "safe" to send data in a
   format that is MIME-conformant, which is that such data will not
   break or be broken by any known systems that are conformant with RFC
   821 and RFC 822.  User agents that are MIME-conformant have the
   additional guarantee that the user will not be shown data that were
   never intended to be viewed as text.

3.  Guidelines for Sending Email Data

   Internet email is not a perfect, homogeneous system.  Mail may become
   corrupted at several stages in its travel to a final destination.
   Specifically, email sent throughout the Internet may travel across
   many networking technologies. Many networking and mail technologies
   do not support the full functionality possible in the SMTP transport
   environment.  Mail traversing these systems is likely to be modified
   in order that it can be transported.

   There exist many widely-deployed non-conformant MTAs in the Internet.
   These MTAs, speaking the SMTP protocol, alter messages on the fly to
   take advantage of the internal data structure of the hosts they are
   implemented on, or are just plain broken.

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   The following guidelines may be useful to anyone devising a data
   format (media type) that is supposed to survive the widest range of
   networking technologies and known broken MTAs unscathed.  Note that
   anything encoded in the base64 encoding will satisfy these rules, but
   that some well-known mechanisms, notably the UNIX uuencode facility,
   will not.  Note also that anything encoded in the Quoted-Printable
   encoding will survive most gateways intact, but possibly not some
   gateways to systems that use the EBCDIC character set.

    (1)   Under some circumstances the encoding used for data may
          change as part of normal gateway or user agent
          operation.  In particular, conversion from base64 to
          quoted-printable and vice versa may be necessary.  This
          may result in the confusion of CRLF sequences with line
          breaks in text bodies.  As such, the persistence of
          CRLF as something other than a line break must not be
          relied on.

    (2)   Many systems may elect to represent and store text data
          using local newline conventions.  Local newline
          conventions may not match the RFC822 CRLF convention --
          systems are known that use plain CR, plain LF, CRLF, or
          counted records.  The result is that isolated CR and LF
          characters are not well tolerated in general; they may
          be lost or converted to delimiters on some systems, and
          hence must not be relied on.

    (3)   The transmission of NULs (US-ASCII value 0) is
          problematic in Internet mail.  (This is largely the
          result of NULs being used as a termination character by
          many of the standard runtime library routines in the C
          programming language.) The practice of using NULs as
          termination characters is so entrenched now that
          messages should not rely on them being preserved.

    (4)   TAB (HT) characters may be misinterpreted or may be
          automatically converted to variable numbers of spaces.
          This is unavoidable in some environments, notably those
          not based on the US-ASCII character set.  Such
          conversion is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED, but it may occur,
          and mail formats must not rely on the persistence of
          TAB (HT) characters.

    (5)   Lines longer than 76 characters may be wrapped or
          truncated in some environments.  Line wrapping or line
          truncation imposed by mail transports is STRONGLY
          DISCOURAGED, but unavoidable in some cases.
          Applications which require long lines must somehow

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          differentiate between soft and hard line breaks.  (A
          simple way to do this is to use the quoted-printable

    (6)   Trailing "white space" characters (SPACE, TAB (HT)) on
          a line may be discarded by some transport agents, while
          other transport agents may pad lines with these
          characters so that all lines in a mail file are of
          equal length.  The persistence of trailing white space,
          therefore, must not be relied on.

    (7)   Many mail domains use variations on the US-ASCII
          character set, or use character sets such as EBCDIC
          which contain most but not all of the US-ASCII
          characters.  The correct translation of characters not
          in the "invariant" set cannot be depended on across
          character converting gateways.  For example, this
          situation is a problem when sending uuencoded
          information across BITNET, an EBCDIC system.  Similar
          problems can occur without crossing a gateway, since
          many Internet hosts use character sets other than US-
          ASCII internally.  The definition of Printable Strings
          in X.400 adds further restrictions in certain special
          cases.  In particular, the only characters that are
          known to be consistent across all gateways are the 73
          characters that correspond to the upper and lower case
          letters A-Z and a-z, the 10 digits 0-9, and the
          following eleven special characters:

            "'"  (US-ASCII decimal value 39)
            "("  (US-ASCII decimal value 40)
            ")"  (US-ASCII decimal value 41)
            "+"  (US-ASCII decimal value 43)
            ","  (US-ASCII decimal value 44)
            "-"  (US-ASCII decimal value 45)
            "."  (US-ASCII decimal value 46)
            "/"  (US-ASCII decimal value 47)
            ":"  (US-ASCII decimal value 58)
            "="  (US-ASCII decimal value 61)
            "?"  (US-ASCII decimal value 63)

          A maximally portable mail representation will confine
          itself to relatively short lines of text in which the
          only meaningful characters are taken from this set of
          73 characters.  The base64 encoding follows this rule.

    (8)   Some mail transport agents will corrupt data that
          includes certain literal strings.  In particular, a

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          period (".") alone on a line is known to be corrupted
          by some (incorrect) SMTP implementations, and a line
          that starts with the five characters "From " (the fifth
          character is a SPACE) are commonly corrupted as well.
          A careful composition agent can prevent these
          corruptions by encoding the data (e.g., in the quoted-
          printable encoding using "=46rom " in place of "From "
          at the start of a line, and "=2E" in place of "." alone
          on a line).

   Please note that the above list is NOT a list of recommended
   practices for MTAs.  RFC 821 MTAs are prohibited from altering the
   character of white space or wrapping long lines.  These BAD and
   invalid practices are known to occur on established networks, and
   implementations should be robust in dealing with the bad effects they
   can cause.

4.  Canonical Encoding Model

   There was some confusion, in earlier versions of these documents,
   regarding the model for when email data was to be converted to
   canonical form and encoded, and in particular how this process would
   affect the treatment of CRLFs, given that the representation of
   newlines varies greatly from system to system.  For this reason, a
   canonical model for encoding is presented below.

   The process of composing a MIME entity can be modeled as being done
   in a number of steps.  Note that these steps are roughly similar to
   those steps used in PEM [RFC-1421] and are performed for each
   "innermost level" body:

    (1)   Creation of local form.

          The body to be transmitted is created in the system's
          native format.  The native character set is used and,
          where appropriate, local end of line conventions are
          used as well.  The body may be a UNIX-style text file,
          or a Sun raster image, or a VMS indexed file, or audio
          data in a system-dependent format stored only in
          memory, or anything else that corresponds to the local
          model for the representation of some form of
          information.  Fundamentally, the data is created in the
          "native" form that corresponds to the type specified by
          the media type.

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    (2)   Conversion to canonical form.

          The entire body, including "out-of-band" information
          such as record lengths and possibly file attribute
          information, is converted to a universal canonical
          form.  The specific media type of the body as well as
          its associated attributes dictate the nature of the
          canonical form that is used.  Conversion to the proper
          canonical form may involve character set conversion,
          transformation of audio data, compression, or various
          other operations specific to the various media types.
          If character set conversion is involved, however, care
          must be taken to understand the semantics of the media
          type, which may have strong implications for any
          character set conversion, e.g. with regard to
          syntactically meaningful characters in a text subtype
          other than "plain".

          For example, in the case of text/plain data, the text
          must be converted to a supported character set and
          lines must be delimited with CRLF delimiters in
          accordance with RFC 822.  Note that the restriction on
          line lengths implied by RFC 822 is eliminated if the
          next step employs either quoted-printable or base64

    (3)   Apply transfer encoding.

          A Content-Transfer-Encoding appropriate for this body
          is applied.  Note that there is no fixed relationship
          between the media type and the transfer encoding.  In
          particular, it may be appropriate to base the choice of
          base64 or quoted-printable on character frequency
          counts which are specific to a given instance of a

    (4)   Insertion into entity.

          The encoded body is inserted into a MIME entity with
          appropriate headers. The entity is then inserted into
          the body of a higher-level entity (message or
          multipart) as needed.

   Conversion from entity form to local form is accomplished by
   reversing these steps. Note that reversal of these steps may produce
   differing results since there is no guarantee that the original and
   final local forms are the same.

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   It is vital to note that these steps are only a model; they are
   specifically NOT a blueprint for how an actual system would be built.
   In particular, the model fails to account for two common designs:

    (1)   In many cases the conversion to a canonical form prior
          to encoding will be subsumed into the encoder itself,
          which understands local formats directly.  For example,
          the local newline convention for text bodies might be
          carried through to the encoder itself along with
          knowledge of what that format is.

    (2)   The output of the encoders may have to pass through one
          or more additional steps prior to being transmitted as
          a message.  As such, the output of the encoder may not
          be conformant with the formats specified by RFC 822.
          In particular, once again it may be appropriate for the
          converter's output to be expressed using local newline
          conventions rather than using the standard RFC 822 CRLF

   Other implementation variations are conceivable as well.  The vital
   aspect of this discussion is that, in spite of any optimizations,
   collapsings of required steps, or insertion of additional processing,
   the resulting messages must be consistent with those produced by the
   model described here.  For example, a message with the following
   header fields:

     Content-type: text/foo; charset=bar
     Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

   must be first represented in the text/foo form, then (if necessary)
   represented in the "bar" character set, and finally transformed via
   the base64 algorithm into a mail-safe form.

   NOTE: Some confusion has been caused by systems that represent
   messages in a format which uses local newline conventions which
   differ from the RFC822 CRLF convention.  It is important to note that
   these formats are not canonical RFC822/MIME.  These formats are
   instead *encodings* of RFC822, where CRLF sequences in the canonical
   representation of the message are encoded as the local newline
   convention.  Note that formats which encode CRLF sequences as, for
   example, LF are not capable of representing MIME messages containing
   binary data which contains LF octets not part of CRLF line separation

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5.  Summary

   This document defines what is meant by MIME Conformance. It also
   details various problems known to exist in the Internet email system
   and how to use MIME to overcome them. Finally, it describes MIME's
   canonical encoding model.

6.  Security Considerations

   Security issues are discussed in the second document in this set, RFC

7.  Authors' Addresses

   For more information, the authors of this document are best contacted
   via Internet mail:

   Ned Freed
   Innosoft International, Inc.
   1050 East Garvey Avenue South
   West Covina, CA 91790

   Phone: +1 818 919 3600
   Fax:   +1 818 919 3614

   Nathaniel S. Borenstein
   First Virtual Holdings
   25 Washington Avenue
   Morristown, NJ 07960

   Phone: +1 201 540 8967
   Fax:   +1 201 993 3032

   MIME is a result of the work of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   Working Group on RFC 822 Extensions.  The chairman of that group,
   Greg Vaudreuil, may be reached at:

   Gregory M. Vaudreuil
   Octel Network Services
   17080 Dallas Parkway
   Dallas, TX 75248-1905

   EMail: Greg.Vaudreuil@Octel.Com

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8.  Acknowledgements

   This document is the result of the collective effort of a large
   number of people, at several IETF meetings, on the IETF-SMTP and
   IETF-822 mailing lists, and elsewhere.  Although any enumeration
   seems doomed to suffer from egregious omissions, the following are
   among the many contributors to this effort:

     Harald Tveit Alvestrand       Marc Andreessen
     Randall Atkinson              Bob Braden
     Philippe Brandon              Brian Capouch
     Kevin Carosso                 Uhhyung Choi
     Peter Clitherow               Dave Collier-Brown
     Cristian Constantinof         John Coonrod
     Mark Crispin                  Dave Crocker
     Stephen Crocker               Terry Crowley
     Walt Daniels                  Jim Davis
     Frank Dawson                  Axel Deininger
     Hitoshi Doi                   Kevin Donnelly
     Steve Dorner                  Keith Edwards
     Chris Eich                    Dana S. Emery
     Johnny Eriksson               Craig Everhart
     Patrik Faltstrom              Erik E. Fair
     Roger Fajman                  Alain Fontaine
     Martin Forssen                James M. Galvin
     Stephen Gildea                Philip Gladstone
     Thomas Gordon                 Keld Simonsen
     Terry Gray                    Phill Gross
     James Hamilton                David Herron
     Mark Horton                   Bruce Howard
     Bill Janssen                  Olle Jarnefors
     Risto Kankkunen               Phil Karn
     Alan Katz                     Tim Kehres
     Neil Katin                    Steve Kille
     Kyuho Kim                     Anders Klemets
     John Klensin                  Valdis Kletniek
     Jim Knowles                   Stev Knowles
     Bob Kummerfeld                Pekka Kytolaakso
     Stellan Lagerstrom            Vincent Lau
     Timo Lehtinen                 Donald Lindsay
     Warner Losh                   Carlyn Lowery
     Laurence Lundblade            Charles Lynn
     John R. MacMillan             Larry Masinter
     Rick McGowan                  Michael J. McInerny
     Leo Mclaughlin                Goli Montaser-Kohsari
     Tom Moore                     John Gardiner Myers
     Erik Naggum                   Mark Needleman
     Chris Newman                  John Noerenberg

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RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

     Mats Ohrman                   Julian Onions
     Michael Patton                David J. Pepper
     Erik van der Poel             Blake C. Ramsdell
     Christer Romson               Luc Rooijakkers
     Marshall T. Rose              Jonathan Rosenberg
     Guido van Rossum              Jan Rynning
     Harri Salminen                Michael Sanderson
     Yutaka Sato                   Markku Savela
     Richard Alan Schafer          Masahiro Sekiguchi
     Mark Sherman                  Bob Smart
     Peter Speck                   Henry Spencer
     Einar Stefferud               Michael Stein
     Klaus Steinberger             Peter Svanberg
     James Thompson                Steve Uhler
     Stuart Vance                  Peter Vanderbilt
     Greg Vaudreuil                Ed Vielmetti
     Larry W. Virden               Ryan Waldron
     Rhys Weatherly                Jay Weber
     Dave Wecker                   Wally Wedel
     Sven-Ove Westberg             Brian Wideen
     John Wobus                    Glenn Wright
     Rayan Zachariassen            David Zimmerman

   The authors apologize for any omissions from this list, which are
   certainly unintentional.

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Appendix A -- A Complex Multipart Example

   What follows is the outline of a complex multipart message.  This
   message contains five parts that are to be displayed serially:  two
   introductory plain text objects, an embedded multipart message, a
   text/enriched object, and a closing encapsulated text message in a
   non-ASCII character set.  The embedded multipart message itself
   contains two objects to be displayed in parallel, a picture and an
   audio fragment.

     MIME-Version: 1.0
     From: Nathaniel Borenstein <>
     To: Ned Freed <>
     Date: Fri, 07 Oct 1994 16:15:05 -0700 (PDT)
     Subject: A multipart example
     Content-Type: multipart/mixed;

     This is the preamble area of a multipart message.
     Mail readers that understand multipart format
     should ignore this preamble.

     If you are reading this text, you might want to
     consider changing to a mail reader that understands
     how to properly display multipart messages.


       ... Some text appears here ...

     [Note that the blank between the boundary and the start
      of the text in this part means no header fields were
      given and this is text in the US-ASCII character set.
      It could have been done with explicit typing as in the
      next part.]

     Content-type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII

     This could have been part of the previous part, but
     illustrates explicit versus implicit typing of body

     Content-Type: multipart/parallel; boundary=unique-boundary-2

     Content-Type: audio/basic

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     Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

       ... base64-encoded 8000 Hz single-channel
           mu-law-format audio data goes here ...

     Content-Type: image/jpeg
     Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

       ... base64-encoded image data goes here ...


     Content-type: text/enriched

     This is <bold><italic>enriched.</italic></bold>
     <smaller>as defined in RFC 1896</smaller>

     Isn't it

     Content-Type: message/rfc822

     From: (mailbox in US-ASCII)
     To: (address in US-ASCII)
     Subject: (subject in US-ASCII)
     Content-Type: Text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
     Content-Transfer-Encoding: Quoted-printable

       ... Additional text in ISO-8859-1 goes here ...


Appendix B -- Changes from RFC 1521, 1522, and 1590

   These documents are a revision of RFC 1521, 1522, and 1590.  For the
   convenience of those familiar with the earlier documents, the changes
   from those documents are summarized in this appendix.  For further
   history, note that Appendix H in RFC 1521 specified how that document
   differed from its predecessor, RFC 1341.

    (1)   This document has been completely reformatted and split
          into multiple documents.  This was done to improve the
          quality of the plain text version of this document,
          which is required to be the reference copy.

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RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

    (2)   BNF describing the overall structure of MIME object
          headers has been added. This is a documentation change
          only -- the underlying syntax has not changed in any

    (3)   The specific BNF for the seven media types in MIME has
          been removed.  This BNF was incorrect, incomplete, amd
          inconsistent with the type-indendependent BNF.  And
          since the type-independent BNF already fully specifies
          the syntax of the various MIME headers, the type-
          specific BNF was, in the final analysis, completely
          unnecessary and caused more problems than it solved.

    (4)   The more specific "US-ASCII" character set name has
          replaced the use of the informal term ASCII in many
          parts of these documents.

    (5)   The informal concept of a primary subtype has been

    (6)   The term "object" was being used inconsistently.  The
          definition of this term has been clarified, along with
          the related terms "body", "body part", and "entity",
          and usage has been corrected where appropriate.

    (7)   The BNF for the multipart media type has been
          rearranged to make it clear that the CRLF preceeding
          the boundary marker is actually part of the marker
          itself rather than the preceeding body part.

    (8)   The prose and BNF describing the multipart media type
          have been changed to make it clear that the body parts
          within a multipart object MUST NOT contain any lines
          beginning with the boundary parameter string.

    (9)   In the rules on reassembling "message/partial" MIME
          entities, "Subject" is added to the list of headers to
          take from the inner message, and the example is
          modified to clarify this point.

    (10)  "Message/partial" fragmenters are restricted to
          splitting MIME objects only at line boundaries.

    (11)  In the discussion of the application/postscript type,
          an additional paragraph has been added warning about
          possible interoperability problems caused by embedding
          of binary data inside a PostScript MIME entity.

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RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

    (12)  Added a clarifying note to the basic syntax rules for
          the Content-Type header field to make it clear that the
          following two forms:

            Content-type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii (comment)

            Content-type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

          are completely equivalent.

    (13)  The following sentence has been removed from the
          discussion of the MIME-Version header: "However,
          conformant software is encouraged to check the version
          number and at least warn the user if an unrecognized
          MIME-version is encountered."

    (14)  A typo was fixed that said "application/external-body"
          instead of "message/external-body".

    (15)  The definition of a character set has been reorganized
          to make the requirements clearer.

    (16)  The definition of the "image/gif" media type has been
          moved to a separate document. This change was made
          because of potential conflicts with IETF rules
          governing the standardization of patented technology.

    (17)  The definitions of "7bit" and "8bit" have been
          tightened so that use of bare CR, LF can only be used
          as end-of-line sequences.  The document also no longer
          requires that NUL characters be preserved, which brings
          MIME into alignment with real-world implementations.

    (18)  The definition of canonical text in MIME has been
          tightened so that line breaks must be represented by a
          CRLF sequence.  CR and LF characters are not allowed
          outside of this usage.  The definition of quoted-
          printable encoding has been altered accordingly.

    (19)  The definition of the quoted-printable encoding now
          includes a number of suggestions for how quoted-
          printable encoders might best handle improperly encoded

    (20)  Prose was added to clarify the use of the "7bit",
          "8bit", and "binary" transfer-encodings on multipart or
          message entities encapsulating "8bit" or "binary" data.

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RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

    (21)  In the section on MIME Conformance, "multipart/digest"
          support was added to the list of requirements for
          minimal MIME conformance.  Also, the requirement for
          "message/rfc822" support were strengthened to clarify
          the importance of recognizing recursive structure.

    (22)  The various restrictions on subtypes of "message" are
          now specified entirely on a subtype by subtype basis.

    (23)  The definition of "message/rfc822" was changed to
          indicate that at least one of the "From", "Subject", or
          "Date" headers must be present.

    (24)  The required handling of unrecognized subtypes as
          "application/octet-stream" has been made more explicit
          in both the type definitions sections and the
          conformance guidelines.

    (25)  Examples using text/richtext were changed to

    (26)  The BNF definition of subtype has been changed to make
          it clear that either an IANA registered subtype or a
          nonstandard "X-" subtype must be used in a Content-Type
          header field.

    (27)  MIME media types that are simply registered for use and
          those that are standardized by the IETF are now
          distinguished in the MIME BNF.

    (28)  All of the various MIME registration procedures have
          been extensively revised. IANA registration procedures
          for character sets have been moved to a separate
          document that is no included in this set of documents.

    (29)  The use of escape and shift mechanisms in the US-ASCII
          and ISO-8859-X character sets these documents define
          have been clarified: Such mechanisms should never be
          used in conjunction with these character sets and their
          effect if they are used is undefined.

    (30)  The definition of the AFS access-type for
          message/external-body has been removed.

    (31)  The handling of the combination of
          multipart/alternative and message/external-body is now
          specifically addressed.

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RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

    (32)  Security issues specific to message/external-body are
          now discussed in some detail.

Appendix C -- References

        Borenstein, Nathaniel S., Multimedia Applications
        Development with the Andrew Toolkit, Prentice-Hall, 1990.

        International Standard -- Information Processing --
        Character Code Structure and Extension Techniques,
        ISO/IEC 2022:1994, 4th ed.

        International Standard -- Information Processing -- 8-bit
        Single-Byte Coded Graphic Character Sets
        - Part 1: Latin Alphabet No. 1, ISO 8859-1:1987, 1st ed.
        - Part 2: Latin Alphabet No. 2, ISO 8859-2:1987, 1st ed.
        - Part 3: Latin Alphabet No. 3, ISO 8859-3:1988, 1st ed.
        - Part 4: Latin Alphabet No. 4, ISO 8859-4:1988, 1st ed.
        - Part 5: Latin/Cyrillic Alphabet, ISO 8859-5:1988, 1st
        - Part 6: Latin/Arabic Alphabet, ISO 8859-6:1987, 1st ed.
        - Part 7: Latin/Greek Alphabet, ISO 8859-7:1987, 1st ed.
        - Part 8: Latin/Hebrew Alphabet, ISO 8859-8:1988, 1st ed.
        - Part 9: Latin Alphabet No. 5, ISO/IEC 8859-9:1989, 1st
        International Standard -- Information Technology -- 8-bit
        Single-Byte Coded Graphic Character Sets
        - Part 10: Latin Alphabet No. 6, ISO/IEC 8859-10:1992,
        1st ed.

        International Standard -- Information Technology -- ISO
        7-bit Coded Character Set for Information Interchange,
        ISO 646:1991, 3rd ed..

        JPEG Draft Standard ISO 10918-1 CD.

        Video Coding Draft Standard ISO 11172 CD, ISO
        IEC/JTC1/SC2/WG11 (Motion Picture Experts Group), May,

Freed & Borenstein          Standards Track                    [Page 20]

RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

        CCITT, Fascicle III.4 - Recommendation G.711, "Pulse Code
        Modulation (PCM) of Voice Frequencies", Geneva, 1972.

        Adobe Systems, Inc., PostScript Language Reference
        Manual, Addison-Wesley, 1985.

        Adobe Systems, Inc., PostScript Language Reference
        Manual, Addison-Wesley, Second Ed., 1990.

        Sollins, K.R., "TFTP Protocol (revision 2)", RFC-783,
        MIT, June 1981.

        Postel, J.B., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", STD 10,
        RFC 821, USC/Information Sciences Institute, August 1982.

        Crocker, D., "Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet
        Text Messages", STD 11, RFC 822, UDEL, August 1982.

        Rose, M. and E. Stefferud, "Proposed Standard for Message
        Encapsulation", RFC 934, Delaware and NMA, January 1985.

        Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "File Transfer Protocol", STD
        9, RFC 959, USC/Information Sciences Institute, October

        Sirbu, M., "Content-Type Header Field for Internet
        Messages", RFC 1049, CMU, March 1988.

        Robinson, D., and R. Ullmann, "Encoding Header Field for
        Internet Messages", RFC 1154, Prime Computer, Inc., April

        Borenstein, N., and N.  Freed, "MIME (Multipurpose
        Internet Mail Extensions): Mechanisms for Specifying and
        Describing the Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC
        1341, Bellcore, Innosoft, June 1992.

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RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

        Moore, K., "Representation of Non-Ascii Text in Internet
        Message Headers", RFC 1342, University of Tennessee, June

        Borenstein, N., "Implications of MIME for Internet Mail
        Gateways", RFC 1344, Bellcore, June 1992.

        Simonsen, K., "Character Mnemonics & Character Sets", RFC
        1345, Rationel Almen Planlaegning, June 1992.

        Linn, J., "Privacy Enhancement for Internet Electronic
        Mail:  Part I -- Message Encryption and Authentication
        Procedures", RFC 1421, IAB IRTF PSRG, IETF PEM WG,
        February 1993.

        Kent, S., "Privacy Enhancement for Internet Electronic
        Mail:  Part II -- Certificate-Based Key Management", RFC
        1422, IAB IRTF PSRG, IETF PEM WG, February 1993.

        Balenson, D., "Privacy Enhancement for Internet
        Electronic Mail:  Part III -- Algorithms, Modes, and
        Identifiers",  IAB IRTF PSRG, IETF PEM WG, February 1993.

        Kaliski, B., "Privacy Enhancement for Internet Electronic
        Mail:  Part IV -- Key Certification and Related
        Services", IAB IRTF PSRG, IETF PEM WG, February 1993.

        Borenstein, N., and Freed, N., "MIME (Multipurpose
        Internet Mail Extensions): Mechanisms for Specifying and
        Describing the Format of Internet Message Bodies", RFC
        1521, Bellcore, Innosoft, September, 1993.

        Moore, K., "Representation of Non-ASCII Text in Internet
        Message Headers", RFC 1522, University of Tennessee,
        September 1993.

Freed & Borenstein          Standards Track                    [Page 22]

RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

        Borenstein, N., "A User Agent Configuration Mechanism for
        Multimedia Mail Format Information", RFC 1524, Bellcore,
        September 1993.

        Postel, J., "Instructions to RFC Authors", RFC 1543,
        USC/Information Sciences Institute, October 1993.

        Nussbacher, H., "Handling of Bi-directional Texts in
        MIME", RFC 1556, Israeli Inter-University Computer
        Center, December 1993.

        Postel, J., "Media Type Registration Procedure", RFC
        1590, USC/Information Sciences Institute, March 1994.

        Internet Architecture Board, Internet Engineering
        Steering Group, Huitema, C., Gross, P., "The Internet
        Standards Process -- Revision 2", March 1994.

        Klensin, J., (WG Chair), Freed, N., (Editor), Rose, M.,
        Stefferud, E., and Crocker, D., "SMTP Service Extension
        for 8bit-MIME transport", RFC 1652, United Nations
        University, Innosoft, Dover Beach Consulting, Inc.,
        Network Management Associates, Inc., The Branch Office,
        March 1994.

        Reynolds, J. and J. Postel, "Assigned Numbers", STD 2,
        RFC 1700, USC/Information Sciences Institute, October

        Faltstrom, P., Crocker, D., and Fair, E., "MIME Content
        Type for BinHex Encoded Files", December 1994.

        Resnick, P., and A. Walker, "The text/enriched MIME
        Content-type", RFC 1896, February, 1996.

Freed & Borenstein          Standards Track                    [Page 23]

RFC 2049                    MIME Conformance               November 1996

        Freed, N., and and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
        Extensions (MIME) Part One: Format of Internet Message
        Bodies", RFC 2045, Innosoft, First Virtual Holdings,
        November 1996.

        Freed, N., and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
        Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046,
        Innosoft, First Virtual Holdings, November 1996.

        Moore, K., "Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)
        Part Three: Representation of Non-ASCII Text in Internet
        Message Headers", RFC 2047, University of
        Tennessee, November 1996.

        Freed, N., Klensin, J., and J. Postel, "Multipurpose
        Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) Part Four: MIME
        Registration Procedures", RFC 2048, Innosoft, MCI,
        ISI, November 1996.

        Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
        Extensions (MIME) Part Five: Conformance Criteria and
        Examples", RFC 2049 (this document), Innosoft, First
        Virtual Holdings, November 1996.

        Coded Character Set -- 7-Bit American Standard Code for
        Information Interchange, ANSI X3.4-1986.

        Schicker, Pietro, "Message Handling Systems, X.400",
        Message Handling Systems and Distributed Applications, E.
        Stefferud, O-j. Jacobsen, and P. Schicker, eds., North-
        Holland, 1989, pp. 3-41.

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