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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 rfc5226                         
INTERNET-DRAFT                                             Thomas Narten
<draft-narten-iana-considerations-rfc2434bis>    Harald Tveit Alvestrand
                                                      September 16, 2004

       Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs


Status of this Memo

   By submitting this Internet-Draft, I certify that any applicable
   patent or other IPR claims of which I am aware have been disclosed,
   and any of which I become aware will be disclosed, in accordance with
   RFC 3668.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
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   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  All Rights Reserved.


   Many protocols make use of identifiers consisting of constants and
   other well-known values. Even after a protocol has been defined and
   deployment has begun, new values may need to be assigned (e.g., for a
   new option type in DHCP, or a new encryption or authentication
   transform for IPsec).  To ensure that such quantities have consistent

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   values and interpretations in different implementations, their
   assignment must be administered by a central authority. For IETF
   protocols, that role is provided by the Internet Assigned Numbers
   Authority (IANA).

   In order for the IANA to manage a given name space prudently, it
   needs guidelines describing the conditions under which new values can
   be assigned. If the IANA is expected to play a role in the management
   of a name space, the IANA must be given clear and concise
   instructions describing that role.  This document discusses issues
   that should be considered in formulating a policy for assigning
   values to a name space and provides guidelines to document authors on
   the specific text that must be included in documents that place
   demands on the IANA.

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   Status of this Memo..........................................    1

   1.  Introduction.............................................    3

   2.  Issues To Consider.......................................    4

   3.  Well-Known IANA Policy Definitions.......................    6

   4.  Registration maintenance.................................    8

   5.  What To Put In Documents.................................    8
      5.1.  When There Are No IANA Actions......................    9
      5.2.  Requesting Assignments From an Existing Name Space..    9
      5.3.  Creation of New Registries..........................   10

   6.  Applicability to Past and Future RFCs....................   11

   7.  Security Considerations..................................   12

   8.  Changes Relative to RFC 2434.............................   13
      8.1.  Changes Relative to -00.............................   13

   9.  Acknowledgments..........................................   13

   10.  References..............................................   13

   11.  Authors' Addresses......................................   14

1.  Introduction

   Many protocols make use of fields that contain constants and other
   well-known values (e.g., the Protocol field in the IP header [IP] or
   MIME types in mail messages [MIME-REG]). Even after a protocol has
   been defined and deployment has begun, new values may need to be
   assigned (e.g., a new option type in DHCP [DHCP] or a new encryption
   or authentication algorithm for IPsec [IPSEC]).  To ensure that such
   fields have consistent values and interpretations in different
   implementations, their assignment must be administered by a central
   authority. For IETF protocols, that role is provided by the Internet
   Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) [IANA-MOU].

   In this document, we call the set of possible values for such a field
   a "name space"; its actual content may be a name, a number or another
   kind of value. The assignment of a specific value to a name space is
   called an assigned number (or assigned value). Each assignment of a

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   number in a name space is called a registration.

   In order for the IANA to manage a given name space prudently, it
   needs guidelines describing the conditions under which new values
   should be assigned. This document provides guidelines to authors on
   what sort of text should be added to their documents, and reviews
   issues that should be considered in formulating an appropriate policy
   for assigning numbers to name spaces.

   Not all name spaces require centralized administration.  In some
   cases, it is possible to delegate a name space in such a way that
   further assignments can be made independently and with no further
   (central) coordination. In the Domain Name System, for example, the
   IANA only deals with assignments at the higher-levels, while
   subdomains are administered by the organization to which the space
   has been delegated. As another example, Object Identifiers (OIDs) as
   defined by the ITU are also delegated [ASSIGNED].  When a name space
   can be delegated, the IANA only deals with assignments at the top

   This document uses the terms 'MUST', 'SHOULD' and 'MAY', and their
   negatives, in the way described in RFC 2119 [KEYWORDS]. In this case,
   "the specification" as used by RFC 2119 refers to the processing of
   protocols being submitted to the IETF standards process.

2.  Issues To Consider

   One issue to consider in managing a name space is its size. If the
   space is small and limited in size, assignments must be made
   carefully to ensure that the space doesn't become exhausted. If the
   space is essentially unlimited, on the other hand, it may be
   perfectly reasonable to hand out new values to anyone that wants one.
   Even when the space is essentially unlimited, however, it is usually
   desirable to have at least minimal review to prevent the hoarding of
   or unnecessary wasting of a space.  For example, if the space
   consists of text strings, it may be desirable to prevent
   organizations from obtaining large sets of strings that correspond to
   the "best" names (e.g., existing company names). Experience has also
   shown that some level of minimal review is useful to prevent
   assignments in cases where the request is malformed or not actually
   needed (this may not always be immediately obvious to a non-subject-
   matter expert).

   A second consideration is whether it makes sense to delegate the name
   space in some manner. This route should be pursued when appropriate,
   as it lessens the burden on the IANA for dealing with assignments.

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   A third, and perhaps most important consideration, concerns potential
   impact on interoperability of unreviewed extensions. Proposed
   protocol extensions generally benefit from community review; indeed,
   review is often essential to prevent future interoperability
   problems. [VENDOR-EXT] discusses this topic in considerable detail.

   In some cases, the name space is essentially unlimited, there are no
   potential interoperability issues, and assigned numbers can safely be
   given out to anyone. When no subjective review is needed, the IANA
   can make assignments directly, provided that the IANA is given
   specific instructions on what types of requests it should grant, and
   what information must be provided before a request for an assigned
   number will be considered. Note that the IANA will not define an
   assignment policy; it should be given a set of guidelines that allow
   it to make allocation decisions with minimal subjectivity.

   In most cases, some review of prospective allocations is appropriate,
   and the question becomes who should perform the review and how
   rigorous the review needs to be.  In many cases, one might think that
   an IETF Working Group (WG) familiar with the name space at hand
   should be consulted. In practice, however, WGs eventually disband, so
   they cannot be considered a permanent evaluator. It is also possible
   for name spaces to be created through individual submission
   documents, for which no WG is ever formed.

   One way to ensure community review of prospective assignments is to
   have the requester submit a document for publication as an RFC. Such
   an action helps ensure that the IESG and relevant WGs review the
   assignment. [XXX update wrt draft-iesg-rfced-documents?] This is the
   preferred way of ensuring review, and is particularly important if
   any potential interoperability issues can arise. For example, many
   assignments are not just assignments, but also involve an element of
   protocol specification. A new option may define fields that need to
   be parsed and acted on, which (if specified poorly) may not fit
   cleanly with the architecture of other options or the base protocols
   on which they are built.

   In some cases, however, the burden of publishing an RFC in order to
   get an assignment is excessive. However, it is generally still useful
   (and sometimes necessary) to discuss proposed additions on a mailing
   list dedicated to the purpose (e.g., the ietf-types@iana.org for
   media types) or on a more general mailing list (e.g., that of a
   current or former IETF WG).  Such a mailing list provides a way for
   new registrations to be publicly reviewed prior to getting assigned,
   or to give advice for persons who want help in understanding what a
   proper registration should contain.

   While discussion on a mailing list can provide valuable technical

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   expertise, opinions may vary and discussions may continue for some
   time without clear resolution.  In addition, the IANA cannot
   participate in all of these mailing lists and cannot determine if or
   when such discussions reach consensus.  Therefore, the IANA cannot
   allow general mailing lists to fill the role of providing definitive
   recommendations regarding a registration question.  Instead, the IANA
   will rely on a "designated expert" to advise it in assignment
   matters.  That is, the IANA forwards the requests it receives to a
   specific point-of-contact (one or a small number of individuals) and
   acts upon the returned recommendation from the designated expert. The
   designated expert can initiate and coordinate as wide a review of an
   assignment request as may be necessary to evaluate it properly.

   Designated experts are appointed by the relevant Area Director of the
   IESG. They are typically named at the time a document that creates a
   new numbering space is published as an RFC, but as experts originally
   appointed may later become unavailable, the relevant Area Director
   will appoint replacements if necessary.

   Any decisions made by the designated expert can be appealed using the
   normal IETF appeals process as outlined in Section 6.5 of [IETF-
   PROCESS]. Since the designated experts are appointed by the IESG,
   they may be removed by the IESG.

3.  Well-Known IANA Policy Definitions

   The following are some defined policies, some of which are in use
   today. These cover a range of typical policies that have been used to
   date. It is not required that documents use these terms; the actual
   requirement is that the instructions to IANA are clear and
   unambigous. However, it is preferable to use these terms where
   possible, since there meaning is widely understood.

      Private Use - For private or local use only, with the type and
             purpose defined by the local site. No attempt is made to
             prevent multiple sites from using the same value in
             different (and incompatible) ways. There is no need for
             IANA to review such assignments and assignments are not
             generally useful for interoperability.

             Examples: Site-specific options in DHCP [DHCP] have
             significance only within a single site.  "X-foo:" header
             lines in email messages.

      Experimental Use - Similar to private or local use only, with the
             purpose being to facilitate experimentation. See
             [EXPERIMENTATION] for details.

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      Hierarchical allocation - Delegated managers can assign values
             provided they have been given control over that part of the
             name space.  IANA controls the higher levels of the
             namespace according to one of the other policies.

             Examples: DNS names, Object Identifiers

      First Come First Served - Anyone can obtain an assigned number, so
             long as they provide a point of contact and a brief
             description of what the value would be used for.  For
             numbers, the exact value is generally assigned by the IANA;
             with names, specific names are usually requested.

             Examples: vnd. (vendor assigned) MIME types [MIME-REG], TCP
             and UDP port numbers.

      Expert Review (or Designated Expert) - approval by a Designated
             Expert is required.

      Specification Required - Values and their meaning must be
             documented in an RFC or other permanent and readily
             available reference, in sufficient detail so that
             interoperability between independent implementations is

             Examples: SCSP [SCSP]

      IESG Approval - New assignments must be approved by the IESG.
             Although there is no requirement that the request be
             documented in an RFC, the IESG has discretion to request
             documents or other supporting materials on a case-by-case

      IETF Review - (Formerly "IETF Consensus" [IANA-CONSIDERATIONS])
             New values are assigned only through RFC publication of
             documents that have been shepherded through the IESG as AD-
             Sponsored documents [XXX need ref]. The intention is that
             the document and proposed assignment will be reviewed by
             the IESG and appropriate IETF WGs (or experts, if suitable
             working groups no longer exist) to ensure that the proposed
             assignment will not negatively impact interoperability or
             otherwise extend IETF protocols in an inappropriate manner.

             [XXX: should an explicit last call be required?]

             Examples: SMTP extensions [SMTP-EXT], BGP Subsequent
             Address Family Identifiers [BGP4-EXT].

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      Standards Action - Values are assigned only for Standards Track
             RFCs approved by the IESG.

             Examples: MIME top level types [MIME-REG]

   It should be noted that it often makes sense to partition a name
   space into several categories, with assignments out of each category
   handled differently. For example, the DHCP option space [DHCP] is
   split into two parts. Option numbers in the range of 1-127 are
   globally unique and assigned according to the Specification Required
   policy described above, while options number 128-254 are "site
   specific", i.e., Private Use. Dividing the name space up makes it
   possible to have different policies in place for different ranges.

4.  Registration maintenance

   Registrations are a request for an assigned number, including the
   related information needed to evaluate and document the request. Even
   after a number has been assigned, some types of registrations contain
   additional information that may need to be updated over time. For
   example, mime types, character sets, language tags, etc. typically
   include more information than just the registered value itself.
   Example information can include point of contact information,
   security issues, pointers to updates, literature references, etc.  In
   such cases, the document must clearly state who is responsible for
   maintaining and updating a registration. It is appropriate to:

      - Let the author update the registration, subject to the same
        constraints and review as with new registrations.

      - Allow some mechanism to attach comments to the registration, for
        cases where others have significant objections to claims in a
        registration, but the author does not agree to change the

      - Designate the IESG or another authority as having the right to
        reassign ownership of a registration. This is mainly to get
        around the problem when some registration owner cannot be
        reached in order to make necessary updates.

5.  What To Put In Documents

   The previous sections presented some issues that should be considered
   in formulating a policy for assigning well-known numbers and other
   protocol constants. It is the Working Group and/or document author's

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   job to formulate an appropriate policy and specify it in the
   appropriate document. In almost all cases, having an explicit "IANA
   Considerations" section is appropriate. The following subsections
   define what is needed for the different types of IANA actions.

5.1.  When There Are No IANA Actions

   Before an Internet-Draft can be published as an RFC, IANA needs to
   know what actions (if any) it needs to perform. Experience has shown
   that it is not always immediately obvious whether a document has no
   IANA actions, without reviewing a document in some detail. In order
   to make it clear to IANA that it has no actions to perform (and that
   the author has consciously made such a determination!), such docu-
   ments should include an IANA Considerations section that states:

      This document has no IANA Actions.

5.2.  Requesting Assignments From an Existing Name Space

   Often, a document requests the assignment of a code point from an
   already existing name space (i.e., one created by a previously-pub-
   lished RFC). In such cases documents should make clear:

   - From what name space is a value is being requested? List the exact
      name space listed on the IANA web page (and RFC), and cite the RFC
      where the name space is defined. (Note: There is no need to men-
      tion what the allocation policy for new assignments is, as that
      should be clear from the references.)

   -  For each value being requested, give it a unique name, e.g., TBD1,
      TBD2, etc. Throughout the document where the actual IANA-assigned
      value should be filled in, use "TDBx" notation. This helps ensure
      that the final RFC has the correct assigned value filled in in all
      of the relevant places where the value is listed in the final doc-

   - Normally, the values to be used are chosen by IANA; documents
      shouldn't pick values themselves. However, in some cases a value
      may have been used for testing or in early implementations. In
      such cases, it is acceptable to include text suggesting what spe-
      cific value should be used (e.g., include the text "the value XXX
      is suggested"). However, it should be noted that suggested values
      are just that; IANA will attempt to assign them, but may find that
      impossible, if the proposed number has already been assigned for
      some other use.

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   -  The IANA Considerations section should summarize all of the IANA
      actions, with pointers to the relevant sections as appropriate.
      When multiple values are requested, it is generally helpful to
      include a summary table.

   As an example, the following text could be used to request assignment
   of a DHCPv6 option number:

      IANA has assigned an option code value of TBD1 to the DNS Recur-
      sive Name Server option and an option code value of TBD2 to the
      Domain Search List option from the DHCP option code space defined
      in section 24.3 of RFC 3315.

5.3.  Creation of New Registries

   Documents that create a new name space (or modify the definition of
   an existing space) and that expect the IANA to play a role in main-
   taining that space (e.g., serving as a repository for registered val-
   ues) MUST provide clear instructions on details of the name space. In
   particular, instructions MUST include:

     1) The name of the registry being created and/or maintained. The
        name will appear on the IANA web page and will be refered to in
        future Internet Drafts that need to allocate a value from the
        new space.

     2) What information must be provided in order to assign a new

     3) The process through which future assignments are made (see Sec-
        tion 3).

        Note: When a Designated Expert is used, documents MUST NOT name
        the Designated Expert in the document itself; instead, the name
        should be relayed to the appropriate IESG Area Director at the
        time the document is sent to the IESG for approval.

        If the request should also be reviewed on a specific public
        mailing list (such as the ietf-types@iana.org for media types),
        that mailing address should be specified. Note, however, that
        use of a Designated Expert MUST also be specified.

        If the IANA is expected to make assignments without requiring an
        outside review, sufficient guidance MUST be provided so that the
        requests can be evaluated with minimal subjectivity.

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   When specifying the process for making future assignments, it is
   quite acceptable to pick one of the example policies listed in Sec-
   tion 3 and refer to it by name.  Indeed, this is the preferred mecha-
   nism in those cases where the sample policies provide the desired
   level of review. It is also acceptable to cite one of the above poli-
   cies and include additional guidelines for what kind of considera-
   tions should be taken into account by the review process. For exam-
   ple, RADIUS [RFC3575] specifies the use of a Designated Expert, but
   includes additional criteria the Designated Expert should follow.

   For example, a document could say something like:

        This document defines a new DHCP option, entitled "FooBar" (see
        Section y), assigned a value of TBD1 from the DCHP Option space
        [RFCXXX]. The FooBar option also contains an 8-bit FooType
        field, for which IANA is to create and maintain a registry enti-
        tled "FooType values". Initial values for FooType field are
        given below; future assignments are to be made through Expert
        Review [IANA-CONSIDERATIONS]. Assignments consist of a name and
        the value.

            Name        Value        Definition
            ----        -----        ----------
            Frobnitz    1           See Section y.1
            NitzFrob    2           See Section y.2

   For examples of documents that provide good and detailed guidance to
   the IANA on the issue of assigning numbers, consult [MIME-REG, MIME-
   LANG, RFC3757, RFC3749, RFC3575].

6.  Applicability to Past and Future RFCs

   For all existing RFCs that either explicitly or implicitly rely on
   the IANA to evaluate assignments without specifying a precise
   evaluation policy, the IANA (in consultation with the IESG) will
   continue to decide what policy is appropriate. Changes to existing
   policies can always be initiated through the normal IETF consensus

   Any decisions made by the IANA can be appealed using the normal IETF
   appeals process as outlined in Section 6.5 of [IETF-PROCESS].
   Specifically, appeals should be directed to the IESG, followed (if
   necessary) by an appeal to the IAB. By virtue of the IAB's role as
   overseer of IANA administration [RFC 1602], the IAB's decision is

   All future RFCs that either explicitly or implicitly rely on the IANA

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   to register or otherwise manage assignments MUST provide guidelines
   for managing the name space.

   [XXX: following is new text w.r.t. 2434. Is this something that is
   appropriate to include??]

   Since RFC 2434 was published, experience has shown that the
   documented IANA considerations for individual protocols do not always
   adequately cover the reality on the ground. For example, many older
   routing protocols do not have documented, detailed IANA
   considerations. In addition, documented IANA considerations are
   sometimes found to be too stringent to allow even working group
   documents (for which there is strong consensus) to obtain code points
   from IANA in advance of actual RFC publication.  In other cases, the
   documented procedures are unclear or neglected to cover all the
   cases. In order to allow assignments in individual cases where there
   is strong IETF consensus that an allocation should go forward, but
   the documented procedures do not support such an assignment, the IESG
   is granted authority to approve assignments in such cases. The
   intention is not to overule documented procedures, or to obviate the
   need for protocols to properly document their IANA Considerations,
   but to permit assignments in individual cases where it is obvious
   that the assignment should just be made, but updating the IANA
   process just to assign a particular code point is viewed as too heavy
   a burden.

7.  Security Considerations

   Information that creates or updates a registration needs to be

   Information concerning possible security vulnerabilities of a
   protocol may change over time. Likewise, security vulnerabilities
   related to how an assigned number is used (e.g., if it identifies a
   protocol) may change as well. As new vulnerabilities are discovered,
   information about such vulnerabilities may need to be attached to
   existing registrations, so that users are not mislead as to the true
   security issues surrounding the use of a registered number.

   An analysis of security issues is required for all parameters (data
   types, operation codes, keywords, etc.) used in IETF protocols or
   registered by the IANA. All descriptions of security issues must be
   as accurate as possible regardless of level of registration.  In
   particular, a statement that there are "no security issues associated
   with this type" must not given when it would be more accurate to
   state that "the security issues associated with this type have not
   been assessed".

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8.  Changes Relative to RFC 2434


8.1.  Changes Relative to -00

   - Revised Section 5.3 to try and make it even more clear.

9.  Acknowledgments

   From RFC 2434:

   Jon Postel and Joyce Reynolds provided a detailed explanation on what
   the IANA needs in order to manage assignments efficiently, and
   patiently provided comments on multiple versions of this document.
   Brian Carpenter provided helpful comments on earlier versions of the
   document. One paragraph in the Security Considerations section was
   borrowed from [MIME-REG].

10.  References

   [ASSIGNED] Reynolds, J., and J. Postel, "Assigned Numbers", STD 2,
                    RFC 1700, October 1994.  See also:

   [BGP4-EXT] Bates. T., Chandra, R., Katz, D. and Y.  Rekhter,
                    "Multiprotocol Extensions for BGP-4", RFC 2283,
                    February 1998.

   [DHCP-OPTIONS] Alexander, S. and R. Droms, "DHCP Options and BOOTP
                    Vendor Extensions", RFC 2132, March 1997.

   [EXPERIMENTATION] "Assigning Experimental and Testing Numbers
                    Considered Useful". T.  Narten, RFC 3692, January

   [IANA-CONSIDERATIONS] Alvestrand, H. and T. Narten, "Guidelines for
                    Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP
                    26, RFC 2434, October 1998.

   [IANA-MOU] Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Technical Work
                    of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. B.
                    Carpenter, F. Baker, M.  Roberts, RFC 2860, June

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   [IETF-PROCESS] Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process --
                    Revision 3", BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [IP] Postel, J., "Internet Protocol", STD 5, RFC 791, September 1981.

   [IPSEC] Atkinson, R., "Security Architecture for the Internet
                    Protocol", RFC 1825, August 1995.

   [KEYWORDS] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
                    Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [MIME-LANG] Freed, N. and K. Moore, "MIME Parameter Value and Encoded
                    Word Extensions: Character Sets, Languages, and
                    Continuations", RFC 2184, August 1997.

   [MIME-REG] Freed, N., Klensin, J. and J. Postel, "Multipurpose
                    Internet Mail Extension (MIME) Part Four:
                    Registration Procedures", RFC 2048, November 1996.

   [SCSP] Luciani, J., Armitage, G. and J. Halpern, "Server Cache
                    Synchronization Protocol (SCSP)", RFC 2334, April

   [SMTP-EXT] Klensin, J., Freed, N., Rose, M., Stefferud, E.  and D.
                    Crocker, "SMTP Service Extensions", RFC 1869,
                    November 1995.

   [VENDOR-EXT] "Considerations on the Extensibility of IETF protocols",

   [RFC3575] IANA Considerations for RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial
                    In User Service). B. Aboba. RFC 3575, July 2003.

11.  Authors' Addresses

   Thomas Narten
   IBM Corporation
   3039 Cornwallis Ave.
   PO Box 12195 - BRQA/502
   Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2195

   Phone: 919-254-7798
   EMail: narten@us.ibm.com

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   Harald Tveit Alvestrand
   Cisco Systems
   5245 Arboretum Dr
   Los Altos, CA

   Email: Harald@Alvestrand.no

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Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  This document is subject
   to the rights, licenses and restrictions contained in BCP 78, and

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INTERNET-DRAFT                                        September 16, 2004

   except as set forth therein, the authors retain all their rights.

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