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The Czech Ministry of Finance along with the BSA threaten to disallow deducting hardware from base tax if purchased without software. This idea stems from their joint proclamation that for software to be used legally, it must be bought – thus completely ignoring the existence of free and open source software which can be obtained legally without any purchase whatsoever. The Ministry and the BSA have issued a press release which basically labels all users of 'free software' pirates. Many public organizations and companies have expressed their dismay at such actions of the Ministry.
The Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic (MFCR) has lent its name to a very strange activity – the so-called anti-pirate organization, BSA (Business Software Alliance) which associates many producers of software (such as Apple, IBM, or Microsoft) had penned a press released that has been published through official channels by the Ministry of Finance. The press release is signed by the first deputy minister and the spokesperson of the BSA. Note that the BSA is not even registered in the Czech Republic and as such has no legal presence in the country. The press release is titled “Software Piracy to Be Considered Tax Evasion Much More Often”. One can safely venture that the current outgoing ministry staff has decided to go for a very clumsy and incorrect interference with the continuing pre-election frays. [The Czech Republic holds national elections into both parliament chambers on the 28th and 29th of May.]
The press release – which makes no attempt to conceal the fact it was written by a private entity – uses BSA's favourite catch phrases and pseudo-arguments:
Revenues lost due to software piracy are calculated by simply adding the sum of prices of all illegally used software, neglecting the fact that many people of companies would not purchase said software, had they not the opportunity to use it illegally/for free.
Claims that the elimination of software piracy would lead to economic growth, innovations, and development.
Contains a BSA appeal to all governments “to double their efforts to suppress the spreading of illegal software”.
Lists, for example, the following as methods to combat piracy:
The MFCR and BSA, in their efforts to push the notion that the only legal software is one that has been bought, fail to mention free and open source software. Despite the fact that a number of operating systems and applications can be legally and for free downloaded from the Internet or obtained through other channels, the press release chooses to be silent about this. There is no provision for proving that software downloaded from the Internet has been obtained legally (when no receipt or other tax document exists).
Still, the main purpose of the press release is to communicate that hardware bought on its own, ie. without software, will not be considered a tax deductible item by the tax collector, thus having no effect on the amount of base tax: “The tax administration has been looking into the acceptability of hardware costs for a number of years now. It should become non-deductible if without legally obtained software which would, of course, factor in the amount of base tax”.
The press release goes on to threaten: “Should there be a reasonable suspicion of the use of illegal software for business purposes, the tax office employees will deal with these offenses during regular controls”. This could result in the criminalisation of companies and entrepreneurs who legally use open source software. At the least, it is an attempt to spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and misinformation about the legality of software usage. Common tactics for the BSA. It is, however, alarming, that the Ministry of Finance, a government body of executive power, has been a part of this.