Subject: Re: GNU/Linux taxed in Poland ?! (fwd)
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 09:43:14 -0500

Nils Lohner wrote:
> This is a message that was sent to the debian-devel mailing list, and I'm
> sure there will be followup discussions on the debian-legal mailing list.
> If people have any ideas or comments, I'm sure they'd be appreciated.  I'll
> try to find a URL for the information as well if possible.
This is sheer insanity!
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> Subject: GNU/Linux taxed in Poland ?!
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> Hello,
> About month ago one of the local fiscal office in Poland has laid
> a tax on some company in Poland which uses Linux servers and
> StarOffice apllications. This information appeared in the past week
> in Polish edition of Computerworld. AND THIS IS NOT A JOKE.
> The fiscal office has treated GNU software as a DONATION for this
> company with a price on the level of M$ Windows NT and M$ Office
> prices. According to the Polish tax regulations this company must
> pay about 30% (thirty percents) of these values now. So much.

Why do they compare with the price of Microsoft software?

> Three weeks ago Computerlworld has asked Polish Treasury about
> an interpretation of a term of donation in case of GNU software.
> Nobody from the Treasury replied yet.
> Maybe this is a less problem for commercial Linux distros like
> RedHat, Mandrake, Suse, Caldera etc. because these product have
> small prices  and they can not be treated as donations but only as
> expenses. I hope because there is still not clear issues concerns
> prices of GPL, LGPL, Artistic, BSD licenses within the scope of Polish
> tax regulations.
> What in a case of Debian GNU/Linux servers?  I have some fears.
> I am not sure but maybe some official letter from the Debian community
> to the Polish Treasury may change something in their mind.
> Greetings from Poland,
> Mariusz Przygodzki
IANAL but I would think a letter like the following from a lawyer
representing Debian should clear this up:

  Dear ____,

    In regards to your question dated xxxx about the fair
  purchase price of the Debian distribution of GNU/Linux
  and StarOffice.

    The fair purchase price of any good or service in a
  capitalistic market is whatever the market will bear. Your
  purchase of Debian for the cost of your download is a
  purchase of that software at the usual rate.  Should you
  continue to feel that this is in error, please send us a
  self-addressed stamped envelope and we will send you an
  official bill for $0 (US).

    In particular the fair purchase price for Debian should
  not be calculated based on the cost of software from any
  other vendor, including Microsoft.  GNU/Linux is not the
  same product as Windows NT, nor are the two entirely
  compatible.  These operating systems provide dimfferent
  development environments, different utilities, and each is
  unable to run much of the software designed for the other.

    A better, but still inaccurate, comparison would be to
  other distributions of GNU/Linux such as Red Hat or Suse.
  Even that is inaccurate because you received a different
  package than you would from one of them.  In particular
  Debian did not sell you a manual, CD, box, or any terms of
  support.  Therefore it comes as no suprise that the fair
  market price for our product is substantially less than the
  fair market price for other GNU/Linux vendors.

    You may wish to avoid further confusing local officials
  by purchasing CDs from a reseller.  A list of resellers is
  maintained at