Network Working Group
Request for Comments: 1529
Obsoletes: 1486
Category: Informational
C. Malamud
Internet Multicasting Service
M. Rose
Dover Beach Consulting, Inc.
October 1993

Principles of Operation for the TPC.INT Subdomain:

Remote Printing -- Administrative Policies

Status of this Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


This document defines the administrative policies for the operation of remote printer facilities within the context of the subdomain. The document describes different approaches to resource recovery for remote printer server sites and includes discussions of issues pertaining to auditing, security, and denial of access.

The technical procedures for remote printing are defined in [1]. The general principles of operation for the subdomain are defined in [2]. An overview of the remote printing facility is returned when electronic mail is sent to

Overview of Remote Printing in the TPC.INT Subdomain

The remote printing facility allows a user to image documents on a remote printer, defined as a G3-compatible facsimile device connected to the public telephone network. The user sends electronic mail to an address which includes the phone number associated with the target G3-compatible facsimile device. Using the Domain Name System, the Internet message-handling infrastructure routes the message to a remote printer server, which provides access to devices within a specified range of the telephone system numbering plan. The message is imaged on the target remote printer and an acknowledgement is sent back to the initiator of the message.

The remote printing facility is concerned with outreach, integrating the e-mail and G3-compatible facsimile communities into a common communications environment. By providing easy access to remote printing recipients, enterprise-wide access is enhanced, regardless of the kind of institution (e.g., commercial, educational, or government), or the size of institution (e.g., global, regional, or local). Remote printing allows an organization to make it easier for electronic mail users to communicate with the personnel in the organization who are users of G3-compatible facsimile but not e-mail, providing a valuable bridge between the two types of technology.

Models of Operation for Remote Printing Servers

Remote printer servers in the subdomain consume resources that are typically recovered from neither the initiator nor the recipient of the remote printing service. Owing to a lack of widespread authentication facilities in the Internet and connected message handling domains, it is not currently possible to identify the initiator with certainty. Since the request was not initiated by the recipient, it is inappropriate for a remote printer gateway to accept a request and then attempt to charge the receiver of the message before imaging the document on the remote printer.

Several models of resource recovery for remote printer operation are possible in the subdomain:

Community Library Model
Neighborhood Grocery Model
Local Newspaper Model

In the Community Library model, an organization would register a remote printer gateway willing to place calls to all devices located within the organization's telephone system. Other operators may determine that the costs of servicing the immediate vicinity (or even a larger area) are minimal and register to serve a portion of the telephone address space as a community service.

The Community Library model can apply to a neighborhood, or to an organization such as a government R&D Center, a university, or a corporation. The library model does not recover costs from the particpants, but runs the remote printer as a community service.

In the Neighborhood Grocery model, a commercial organization contracts with specific end users, offering to register their individual fax numbers in the namespace. This service bureau model could be conducted with or without cost recovery from the owner of the remote printer device.

The Local Newspaper model recovers the resources needed to operate the remote printer service from a third party not directly connected with the message exchange. When a document is successfully imaged on a remote printer, there are two actions that result. First, a cover sheet is constructed and prepended to the document imaged on the remote printer. Second, a notification is sent back to the initiator. An Internet site running a remote printer server registered in the subdomain is permitted to acknowledge a sponsor in both cases.

   Specifically, up to one-third of the area of the cover sheet may be
   used for acknowledgement of the sponsor, and up to 250 bytes of ASCII
   text acknowledging the sponsor may be appended to the notification
   returned to the initiator.   Any such sponsor acknowledgement is
   subject to applicable regulations governing the content and form of
   such acknowledgements.

The words "paid advertisement" should be prominently displayed in the area containing the message if money has changed hands for the transaction. If an organization uses the local newspaper model simply to transmit community service messages, then the words "paid advertisement" need not be displayed.

Auditing and Security

A remote printer server should maintain a log for auditing and security. This log may contain at most the following information:

      1) the date the message was received;
      2) the "From" and "Message-ID" fields;
      3) the size of the body;
      4) the identity (telephone number) of the printer;
      5) any telephony-related information, such as call
      6) any G3-related information, such recipient ID.

This information is the most that can be kept and may be further limited by legal authority with jurisdiction at the site.

The purpose of the log is to maintain accountability and security. It is considered a violation of the privacy of the initiator and the recipient of the remote printer services to divulge such logs unless required by legal authority with jurisdiction at the site. In particular, it is a violation of privacy to divulge, either directly or indirectly, such information for the compilation of lists for marketing purposes.

It is permissible, however, to furnish interested parties with summary reports that indicate the number of calls, average length, and other summary information provided that such summary information could not be used to identify individual initiators or recipients or their calling patterns. For example, a remote printer gateway might furnish an interested party with a report of the number of calls per day and hours logged to a specific local area exchange.

Remote printer servers operate in a public service capacity and must strictly respect the privacy of the contents of messages. Unless required by technical or legal considerations, the content of messages shall not be monitored or disclosed.

Denial of Access

Internet sites registered in the subdomain may deny access based on the source but not the destination of the message. If an Internet site feels that it is inappropriate to provide access to a particular destination, then it should re-register itself accordingly.

Denial of access based on source should be made only if required by legal authority with jurisdiction at the site or because of abuse. In all cases, denial of access should result in a notification returned to the initiator indicating the policy that was violated. However, if repeated attempts continue to be made by the source, repeated notifications are not necessary. Denial of access should be distinguished from the inability to provide access. For example, improperly formatted messages will prevent access.

Denial of access can occur due to problems in a single message or set of messages or because of consistent patterns of abuse. Examples of denial on a single message might include an attempt to transmit an extremely long document, such as a 100-page memo. Such a document might violate local policies limiting the number of pages or transmission time.

A more serious problem is long-term abuse of facilities. A remote printer server might choose to impose a usage limit on a daily or monthly basis. Such limits should be chosen to balance the desire to encourage legitimate users with the need to prevent consistent abuse.

At present, it is the responsibility for each Internet site running a remote printer server to define a local policy for denial of access. This policy should be based on objective criteria, and those criteria should be registered with the subdomain secretariat at the e-mail address

Security Considerations

Security issues are not discussed in this memo.


   [1] Malamud, C., and M. Rose, "Principles of Operation for the
       TPC.INT Subdomain: Remote Printing -- Technical Procedures", RFC
       1528, Dover Beach Consulting, Inc., Internet Multicasting
       Service, October 1993.
   [2] Malamud, C., and M. Rose, "Principles of Operation for the
       TPC.INT Subdomain: General Principles and Policy", RFC 1530,
       Internet Multicasting Service, Dover Beach Consulting, Inc.,
       October 1993.

Authors' Addresses

Carl Malamud
Internet Multicasting Service
Suite 1155, The National Press Building
Washington, DC 20045

   Phone: +1 202 628 2044
   Fax:   +1 202 628 2042
   Marshall T. Rose
   Dover Beach Consulting, Inc.
   420 Whisman Court
   Mountain View, CA  94043-2186
   Phone: +1 415 968 1052
   Fax:   +1 415 968 2510