Network Working Group G. Vaudreuil
Request for Comments: 3462 Lucent Technologies
Obsoletes: 1892 January 2003
Category: Standards Track
The Multipart/Report Content Type
for the Reporting of
Mail System Administrative Messages
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 (C) The Internet Society (2003). All Rights Reserved.
The Multipart/Report Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)
content-type is a general "family" or "container" type for electronic
mail reports of any kind. Although this memo defines only the use of
the Multipart/Report content-type with respect to delivery status
reports, mail processing programs will benefit if a single content-
type is used to for all kinds of reports.
This document is part of a four document set describing the delivery
status report service. This collection includes the Simple Mail
Transfer Protocol (SMTP) extensions to request delivery status
reports, a MIME content for the reporting of delivery reports, an
enumeration of extended status codes, and a multipart container for
the delivery report, the original message, and a human-friendly
summary of the failure.
Table of Contents
Document Conventions................................................21. The Multipart/Report Content Type................................22. The Text/RFC822-Headers..........................................43. Security Considerations..........................................44. Normative References.............................................5
Appendix A - Changes from RFC 1893..................................6
Full Copyright Statement............................................7Document Conventions
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
"SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14, RFC 2119
1. The Multipart/Report Content Type
The Multipart/Report MIME content-type is a general "family" or
"container" type for electronic mail reports of any kind. Although
this memo defines only the use of the Multipart/Report content-type
with respect to delivery status reports, mail processing programs
will benefit if a single content-type is used to for all kinds of
The Multipart/Report content-type is defined as follows:
MIME type name: multipart
MIME subtype name: report
Required parameters: boundary, report-type
Optional parameters: none
Encoding considerations: 7bit should always be adequate
Security considerations: see section 3 of this memo
The syntax of Multipart/Report is identical to the Multipart/Mixed
content type defined in [MIME]. When used to send a report, the
Multipart/Report content-type must be the top-level MIME content type
for any report message. The report-type parameter identifies the
type of report. The parameter is the MIME content sub-type of the
second body part of the Multipart/Report.
User agents and gateways must be able to automatically determine that
a message is a mail system report and should be processed as such.
Placing the Multipart/Report as the outermost content provides a
mechanism whereby an auto-processor may detect through parsing the
RFC 822 headers that the message is a report.
The Multipart/Report content-type contains either two or three sub-
parts, in the following order:
1) [Required] The first body part contains human readable message.
The purpose of this message is to provide an easily understood
description of the condition(s) that caused the report to be
generated, for a human reader who may not have a user agent capable
of interpreting the second section of the Multipart/Report.
The text in the first section may be in any MIME standards-track
content-type, charset, or language. Where a description of the error
is desired in several languages or several media, a
Multipart/Alternative construct may be used.
This body part may also be used to send detailed information that
cannot be easily formatted into a Message/Report body part.
(2) [Required] A machine parsable body part containing an account of
the reported message handling event. The purpose of this body part is
to provide a machine-readable description of the condition(s) that
caused the report to be generated, along with details not present in
the first body part that may be useful to human experts. An initial
body part, Message/delivery-status is defined in [DSN].
(3) [Optional] A body part containing the returned message or a
portion thereof. This information may be useful to aid human experts
in diagnosing problems. (Although it may also be useful to allow the
sender to identify the message which the report was issued, it is
hoped that the envelope-id and original-recipient-address returned in
the Message/Report body part will replace the traditional use of the
returned content for this purpose.)
Return of content may be wasteful of network bandwidth and a variety
of implementation strategies can be used. Generally the sender
should choose the appropriate strategy and inform the recipient of
the required level of returned content required. In the absence of
an explicit request for level of return of content such as that
provided in [DRPT], the agent that generated the delivery service
report should return the full message content.
When 8-bit or binary data not encoded in a 7 bit form is to be
returned, and the return path is not guaranteed to be 8-bit or binary
capable, two options are available. The original message MAY be re-
encoded into a legal 7-bit MIME message or the Text/RFC822-Headers
content-type MAY be used to return only the original message headers.
2. The Text/RFC822-Headers content-type
The Text/RFC822-Headers MIME content-type provides a mechanism to
label and return only the RFC 822 headers of a failed message. These
headers are not the complete message and should not be returned as a
Message/RFC822. The returned headers are useful for identifying the
failed message and for diagnostics based on the received lines.
The Text/RFC822-Headers content-type is defined as follows:
MIME type name: Text
MIME subtype name: RFC822-Headers
Required parameters: None
Optional parameters: None
Encoding considerations: 7 bit is sufficient for normal RFC822
headers, however, if the headers are broken and require
encoding to make them legal 7 bit content, they may be
encoded in quoted-printable.
Security considerations: See section 3 of this memo.
The Text/RFC822-Headers body part should contain all the RFC822
header lines from the message which caused the report. The RFC822
headers include all lines prior to the blank line in the message.
They include the MIME-Version and MIME Content-Headers.
3. Security Considerations
Automated use of report types without authentication presents several
security issues. Forging negative reports presents the opportunity
for denial-of-service attacks when the reports are used for automated
maintenance of directories or mailing lists. Forging positive
reports may cause the sender to incorrectly believe a message was
delivered when it was not.
A signature covering the entire multipart/report structure could be
used to prevent such forgeries; such a signature scheme is, however,
beyond the scope of this document.
4. Normative References
[SMTP] Postel, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", STD 10, RFC
821, August 1982.
[DSN] Moore, K., and G. Vaudreuil, "An Extensible Message Format
for Delivery Status Notifications", RFC 3464, January
[RFC822] Crocker, D., "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet
Text Messages", STD 11, RFC 822, August 1982.
[MIME] Borenstein, N. and N. Freed, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions (MIME) Part Two: Media Types", RFC 2046,
[DRPT] Moore, K., "SMTP Service Extension for Delivery Status
Notifications", RFC 3461, January 2003.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.
Appendix A - Changes from RFC 1892
Changed Authors contact information
Updated required standards boilerplate
Edited the text to make it spell-checker and grammar checker
Gregory M. Vaudreuil
7291 Williamson Rd
Dallas Tx, 75214
Phone: +1 214 823 9325
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