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MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions): Mechanisms for Specifying and Describing the Format of Internet Message Bodies (RFC1341)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000002165D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2001-Nov-09

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

N. Borenstein: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

RFC 822 defines a message representation protocol which specifies considerable detail about message headers, but which leaves the message content, or message body, as flat ASCII text. This document redefines the format of message bodies to allow multi-part textual and non-textual message bodies to be represented and exchanged without loss of information. This is based on earlier work documented in RFC 934 and RFC 1049, but extends and revises that work. Because RFC 822 said so little about message bodies, this document is largely orthogonal to (rather than a revision of) RFC 822. (Download file contains alternative document formats.)

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            Network Working Group               N. Borenstein, Bellcore

            Request for Comments: 1341               N. Freed, Innosoft

                                                              June 1992

                   MIME  (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions):

                      Mechanisms for Specifying and Describing

                       the Format of Internet Message Bodies

          Status of this Memo

            This RFC specifies an IAB standards track protocol  for  the

            Internet  community, and requests discussion and suggestions

            for improvements.  Please refer to the  current  edition  of

            the    "IAB    Official    Protocol   Standards"   for   the

            standardization  state  and   status   of   this   protocol.

            Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

          Abstract

            RFC 822 defines  a  message  representation  protocol  which

            specifies  considerable  detail  about  message headers, but

            which leaves the message content, or message body,  as  flat

            ASCII  text.   This document redefines the format of message

            bodies to allow multi-part textual and  non-textual  message

            bodies  to  be  represented  and  exchanged  without loss of

            information.   This is based on earlier work  documented  in

            RFC  934  and  RFC  1049, but extends and revises that work.

            Because RFC 822 said so little about  message  bodies,  this

            document  is  largely  orthogonal to (rather than a revision

            of) RFC 822.

            In  particular,  this  document  is  designed   to   provide

            facilities  to include multiple objects in a single message,

            to represent body text in  character  sets  other  than  US-

            ASCII,  to  represent formatted multi-font text messages, to

            represent non-textual material  such  as  images  and  audio

            fragments,  and  generally  to  facilitate  later extensions

            defining new types of Internet mail for use  by  cooperating

            mail agents.

            This document does NOT extend Internet mail header fields to

            permit  anything  other  than  US-ASCII  text  data.   It is

            recognized that such extensions are necessary, and they  are

            the subject of a companion document [RFC -1342].

            A table of contents appears at the end of this document.

            Borenstein & Freed                                  [Page i]

            1    Introduction

            Since its publication in 1982, RFC 822 [RFC-822] has defined

            the   standard  format  of  textual  mail  messages  on  the

            Internet.  Its success has been such that the RFC 822 format

            has  been  adopted,  wholly  or  partially,  well beyond the

            confines of the Internet and  the  Internet  SMTP  transport

            defined  by RFC 821 [RFC-821].  As the format has seen wider

            use,  a  number  of  limitations  have  proven  increasingly

            restrictive for the user community.

            RFC 822 was intended to specify a format for text  messages.

            As such, non-text messages, such as multimedia messages that

            might include audio or images,  are  simply  not  mentioned.

            Even in the case of text, however, RFC 822 is inadequate for

            the needs of mail users whose languages require the  use  of

            character  sets  richer  than US ASCII [US-ASCII]. Since RFC

            822 does not specify mechanisms for mail  containing  audio,

            video,  Asian  language  text, or even text in most European

            languages, additional specifications are needed

            One of the notable limitations of  RFC  821/822  based  mail

            systems  is  the  fact  that  they  limit  the  contents  of

            electronic  mail  messages  to  relatively  sho...