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Resolution for University Support of OSS

  • Subject: Resolution for University Support of OSS
  • From: High Plains Thumper <hpt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 13:24:42 +0000 (UTC)
  • Cache-post-path: ella.cg.yu!unknown@221m35.oasis.mediatti.net
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: Internet Crna Gora NNTPCache groupie
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  • Xref: news.mcc.ac.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:1164564

or http://tinyurl.com/pfh42


Approved by the Faculty Senate,
University at Buffalo, State University of New York,
April 1, 2003.

1 WHEREAS, direct unmediated unfettered access to information 
is fundamental and essential to scholarly inquiry, academic 
dialog, research, the advancement of research methods, 
academic freedom, and freedom of speech; and

2 WHEREAS, complete control by a computer-user of the 
computer's operating system and hardware is essential to the 
use and adaptation of computers in research and to the 
preservation of privacy; and

3 WHEREAS, the free flow of information has for many years 
been hampered by incompatibilities between Microsoft software 
and non-Microsoft systems caused by Microsoft-specific 
modifications to open protocols (such as Kerberos[1]), 
document formats (such as HTML[2]), and programming languages 
(such as Java[3]); and

4 WHEREAS, there appears to be significant risk that future 
Microsoft operating systems will serve to curtail the rights 
of scholars and the public to Fair Use of copyrighted 
material, as is suggested by Microsoft's patent for a "Digital 
Rights Management Operating System" (US Patent #6330670, Dec. 
2001)[4], and its development of Palladium[5] and Secure Audio 
Path[6], which are technologies that prevent direct access by 
computer users to data on their own computers; and

5a WHEREAS, the restrictions imposed by the license agreement 
of the web-page composition tool Microsoft Frontpage 2002, 
which states "You may not use the Software in connection with 
any site that disparages Microsoft, MSN, MSNBC, Expedia, or 
their products or services"[7], are an unacceptable 
restriction of freedom of expression; and

5b WHEREAS, the "security patch" Q320920 for Windows Media 
Player, which gives to Microsoft remote administration 
privileges on the user's computer and the right to "disable 
your ability to copy and/or play Secure Content and use other 
software on your computer"[8], involves a substantial 
surrender of control and privacy on the part of the computer-
user; and

5c WHEREAS, the fact that Windows Media Player logs and 
reports to Microsoft every instance of access to a DVD by the 
user[9] is a troubling invasion of privacy; and

6 WHEREAS, a closed-source proprietary operating system such 
as Microsoft Windows cannot be modified by the user to 
accommodate specific research or personal needs[10]; and

7 WHEREAS, excessive dependence of the University at Buffalo 
on a single supplier of proprietary operating systems and/or 
application software renders the University powerless to 
resist unreasonable price increases for software licenses and 
other unreasonable demands such as license changes forbidding 
benchmarking[11] or reverse-engineering for compatibility; and

8 WHEREAS, the use of closed proprietary document formats and 
information management systems to store the work of faculty, 
students, and staff limits the ways these works can be 
accessed and archived, and jeopardizes access itself in the 
long term; and

9 WHEREAS, open-source, or "free" software provides an 
alternative to proprietary operating systems and application 
software that is robust, reliable and trustworthy, and 
provides a means for the University community to retain 
complete control of its computer hardware and software, and to 
retain the rights of Fair Use of information, and preserve the 
means to adapt computer systems to specific research and 
personal needs; and

10 WHEREAS, significant savings can be achieved by the use of 
open-source software, which has (in almost all cases) zero 
licensing costs, and requires no involuntary upgrades such as 
are an integral part of the current UB Microsoft Campus 
Agreement; and

11 WHEREAS, for the reasons enumerated above, the exclusive or 
predominant use of proprietary operating systems and 
application software is detrimental to the core missions of 
the University at Buffalo; and

12 WHEREAS, open-source software provides an alternative 
through whose use the core missions of the University at 
Buffalo can be preserved, nurtured, and enhanced; now, 
therefore, be it

13 RESOLVED that the Faculty of the University at Buffalo call 
on the University to provide support for the use by interested 
students, faculty, and administrators of the GNU/Linux 
operating system; and be it further

14 RESOLVED that the Faculty of the University at Buffalo call 
on the University to provide support for the use by students, 
faculty, and administrators, of OpenOffice and/or other open-
source productivity suites; and be it further

15 RESOLVED that the Faculty of the University at Buffalo call 
on the University to provide support for the use by students, 
faculty, and administrators, of open-source alternatives to 
proprietary application software wherever possible; and be it 

16 RESOLVED that the Faculty of the University at Buffalo call 
on the University to implement a policy of promoting open 
document formats and communication protocols wherever possible 
and, in the case of broadcast announcements and other 
documents intended for a general audience, discouraging the 
use of secret and proprietary formats (such as Microsoft Word 
format) in favor of open formats (such as plain text or HTML) 
that are universally accessible.


[1] See The Industry Standard, May 11, 2000: 

[2] "It was in this meeting that Microsoft executives said 
they intended to "embrace, extend, extinguish" competing 
technologies, including Internet standard HTML, McGeady [Intel 
Vice President and Government witness] said.", ZDNet News, 
November 8, 1998, http://zdnet.com.com/2100-11-512681.html?

[3] See, for example, Java World, December 1998, 

"...the injunction requires Microsoft to stop shipping 
incompatible versions of the virtual machine and to support 
the standard native-language interface (JNI) in any versions 
it does ship. It requires Microsoft to stop shipping the 
current version of its language development environments, to 
make the standard-Java mode of its language compiler the 
default mode, to issue a warning to developers if they enable 
the non-standard mode, and to include a note in that warning 
that the Microsoft extensions they are enabling "may be 
disallowed by court order" in the future."

News.com, January 22, 1999,


Specifically, the court required programming tools to be set 
by default to disable Microsoft extensions to Java.

[4] US Patent Office, 
http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm. Search for 
6330670. See also 6327652.

[5] From Microsoft Developer Network website, 2/26/2003:


"In the Secure Audio Path model, applications cannot be used 
to modify packaged music in any way. For example, when an 
application is used to intercept a music signal, the signal 
sounds like random noise. As a result, applications used to 
modify signals (such as an equalizer) cannot change the sound 
of the music."


[7] Infoworld Jan 10, 2001


[8] InfoWorld, July 12, 2002,


[9] ITworld.com 2/21/02


"Serious privacy problems in Windows Media Player for Windows 
XP" by Richard M. Smith,

Details at 

"Each time a new DVD movie is played on a computer, the WMP 
software contacts a Microsoft Web server to get title and 
chapter information for the DVD. When this contact is made, 
the Microsoft Web server is given an electronic fingerprint 
which identifies the DVD movie being watched and a cookie 
which uniquely identifies a particular WMP player. With this 
two pieces of information Microsoft can track what DVD movies 
are being watched on a particular computer."

See also "Microsoft WinXP Update spies on other PC software", 
The Inquirer, 2/25/2003, http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=

[10] For example, there is no real-time patch for Windows for 
experimentalists and musicians who need

sub-millisecond latency. In contrast, there are such patches 
for Linux: see http://www.ittc.ku.edu/kurt/.

[11] SQL Server benchmarks prohibited, ITWorld 4/17/2001


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