Network Working Group                                  H. Alvestrand
Request for Comments: 2159                                   UNINETT
Category: Standards Track                               January 1998

                        A MIME Body Part for FAX

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.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

1.  Introduction

   This document contains the definitions, originally contained in RFC
   1494, on how to carry CCITT G3Fax in MIME, and how to translate it to
   its X.400 representation.

   NOTE: At the moment, this format does not seem appropriate for a
   "general purpose image format for the Internet", if such a beast can
   exist. It exists only to carry information that is already in G3 Fax
   format, and may be usefully converted to other formats when used in
   specific contexts.

2.  The image/g3fax content-type

   This content-type is defined to carry G3 Facsimile byte streams.

   In general, a G3Fax image contains 3 pieces of information:

     (1)   A set of flags indicating the particular coding scheme.
           CCITT Recommendation T.30 defines how the flags are
           transmitted over telephones.  In this medium, the flags are
           carried as parameters in the MIME content-type header

     (2)   A structure that divides the bits into pages.  CCITT
           recommendation T.4 describes a "return to command mode"
           string; this is used here to indicate page breaks.

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RFC 2159                 MIME Body Part for FAX             January 1998

     (3)   For each page, a sequence of bits that form the encoding of
           the image.  CCITT recommendation T.4 defines the bit image
           format.  This is used without change.  The highest bit of
           the first byte is the first bit of the T.4 bitstream.

2.1.  G3Fax Parameters

   The following parameters are defined:

      (1)   page-length - possible values: A4, B4 and Unlimited

      (2)   page-width - possible values: A3, A4, B4

      (3)   encoding - possible values: 1-dimensional, 2-dimensional,

      (4)   resolution - possible values: Fine, Coarse

      (5)   DCS - a bit string, represented in Base64.

      (6)   pages - an integer, giving the number of pages in the

   If nothing is specified, the default parameter settings are:


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   It is possible (but misleading) to view the representation of these
   values as single-bit flags. They correspond to the following bits of
   the T.30 control string and X.400 G3FacsimileParameters:

       Parameter               T.30 bit        X.400 bit

       page-length=A4             no bit set
       page-length=B4          19              21
       page-length=Unlimited   20              20

       page-width=A4              no bit set
       page-width=A3           18              22
       page-width=B4           17              23

       encoding=1-dimensional     no bit set
       encoding=2-dimensional  16              8
       encoding=Uncompressed   26              30

       resolution=Coarse          no bit set
       resolution=Fine         15              9

   The reason for the different bit numbers is that X.400 counts bits in
   an octet from the MSB down to the LSB, while T.30 uses the opposite
   numbering scheme.

   If any bit but these are set in the Device Control String, the DCS
   parameter should be supplied.

2.2.  Content Encoding

   X.400 defines the g3-facsimile data stream as a SEQUENCE of BIT
   STRINGs. Each BIT STRING is a page of facsimile image data, encoded
   as defined by Recommendation T.4.  The following content encoding is
   reversible between MIME and X.400 and ensures that page breaks are
   honored in the MIME representation.

   An EOL is defined as a bit sequence of

       000000000001 (eleven zeroes and a one).

   Each page of the message is delimited by a sequence of six (6) EOLs
   that MUST start on a byte boundary.  The image bit stream is padded
   with zeroes as needed to achieve this alignment.

   Searching for the boundary is a matter of searching for the byte
   sequence (HEX) 00 10 01 00 10 01 00 10 01, which cannot occur inside
   the image.

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RFC 2159                 MIME Body Part for FAX             January 1998

   See Section 7.5 for the algorithm on conversion between this encoding
   and the X.400 encoding.

   The Base64 content-transfer-encoding is appropriate for carrying this

3.  g3-facsimile - image/g3fax

   X.400 Body part: g3-facsimile
   MIME Content-Type: image/g3fax
   Conversion Type: nearly Byte copy

   The Parameters of the X.400 G3Fax body part are mapped to the
   corresponding Parameters on the MIME Image/G3Fax body part and vice
   versa.  Note that:

      (1)   If fineResolution is not specified, pixels will be twice as
            tall as they are wide

      (2)   If any bit not corresponding to a specially named option is
            set in the G3Fax NonBasicParameters, the "DCS" parameter
            must be used.

      (3)   Interworking is not guaranteed if any bit apart from those
            specially named are used in the NonBasicParameters

   From X.400 to G3Fax, the body is created in the following way:

      (1)   Any trailing EOL markers on each bitstring is removed. The
            bit order is changed to conform to the most common Internet
            encoding (highest bit of first byte = first bit of the
            G3Fax). The bitstring is padded to a byte boundary.

      (2)   6 consecutive EOL markers are appended to each bitstring.

      (3)   The padded bitstrings are concatenated together

   An EOL marker is the bit sequence 000000000001 (11 zeroes and a

   From G3Fax to X.400, the body is created in the following way:

      (1)   The body is split into bitstrings at each occurrence of 6
            consecutive EOL markers. Trailing EOLs must NOT be removed,
            since the X.400 Implementor Guide recommends that each page
            should end with 6 consecutive EOLs.  (This is a change from
            RFC 1494).

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RFC 2159                 MIME Body Part for FAX             January 1998

      (2)   Each bitstring is made into an ASN.1 BITSTRING, reversing
            the order of bits within each byte to conforom to the X.400
            Implementors Guide recommendation for bit order in the
            G3Fax body part.

      (3)   The bitstrings are made into an ASN.1 SEQUENCE, which forms
            the body of the G3Fax body part.

4.  Usability of G3Fax body parts

   This section is not part of the proposed standard, but is intended as
   guidance for people implementing G3Fax handling, so that they know a
   little about what to expect.

   The DCS bitstring is a LONG thing; the T.30 Recommendation (1993)
   gives 67 bits with specific functions, SG8 Report R33 extends this to
   75 bits, and Report R41 (approved in 1995) extends it to 79 bits.
   (For curiosity - bit 68 says that the coding is JPEG; bit 27 is
   "error correcting mode). No sane implementor will send such things
   without being able to negotiate them down if the recipient doesn't
   support it, but there is no guarantee that messages with such bits
   set in the DCS won't arrive through X.400.

   The ISO P2 profile from 1995 [PROFILE] says that the profile makes
   support for reception of two-dimensional and fine-resolution
   mandatory if g3-facsimile is supported at all. Research by Andrew
   Gordon of Net-Tel indicates that it is easy for an access unit to
   support fine resolution, unlimited length and B4 length, while
   support for B4 width is nearly impossible, and A3 width is hard.

   Another interesting point is that some fax machines have trouble if
   the scan lines do not contain exactly the declared number of pixels
   on each scan line, so "omitting right-hand white space" is likely to
   give trouble.

5.  Security Considerations

   There are no known security issues specific to the FAX body part.

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6.  References

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

       X.400 Implementor's Guide, version 8.

       ISO/IEC ISP 12062-2: 1995:

       ITU-T Recommendation T.30 (1993): Procedures for document
       facsimile transmission in the general switched telephone network.

7. Author's Address

   Harald Tveit Alvestrand
   UNINETT 6883 Elgeseter
   N-7002 Trondheim


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8.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

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