Canadian Mint Decides It Doesn't Really Need To Fine Musician For Photos Of Pennies On Album Cover

While there are many opponents of the lowly penny, including a store in Vermont and soon, the entire country of Canada, one musician was about to be punished by the Canadian mint for his love of the little guys. The folk singer featured a photo of pennies scattered on a counter as well as a large penny on the back, and the Mint warned him that he was violating the government’s copyright on the currency. Say what now?

Yep, up there in Canada, the bills come printed with a copyright notice in the lower right corner that also extends to coins, reports The National Post. At first the Mint said it would give the musician a free pass on his first 2,000 albums but would start collecting $1,200 for the next 2,000. The artist said he wouldn’t be able to afford that and besides, there won’t even be pennies in circulation there soon anyway.

Since it’s doubtful that someone would try to use the penny photos as real currency, the musician sees the whole situation as taxation and launched a Penny Drive to help him raise the money for the tax.

“It is pennies to them but is pretty substantial for me,”  he said.

But now that the media caught on to the struggling musician’s case, the Mint has backed down and said it won’t charge him, well, a penny. And it’s going to look into changing its rules, to boot, reports The Globe and Mail.

“We recognize our policy as it is today may not consider the individual needs and circumstances of those who request the use of our images,” a spokeswoman said. “We’re allowing [him] to do this and we truly wish him well in his career.”

“Everything’s gonna taste better now. I’m gonna sleep better,” said the musician, adding that he was pretty shocked at all the attention his penny crusade brought. “This all started very simply from the fact that I’ve got a wife and three kids and just want to be able to make a living, and felt that I had to stand up for that.”

Jesse Kline: A penny for your thoughts? It could cost you $1,200 [National Post]
Mint drops demand for royalty on penny-inspired folk-music album [The Globe and Mail]

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  1. Galium says:

    So what is Canada (that is in America) going to tell their dependent’s when they ask about ” a penny saved is a penney earned” or ” a penny for your thoughts” means?

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Well son, there used to be something called a half disme until inflation ate that up – then there used to be something called a penny until inflation ate that up also – then there used to be something called a dollar until. . .

    • iamlost26 says:

      what are you going to tell your dependent when they ask what the save icon in microsoft office is?

    • kc2idf says:

      It doesn’t matter.

      When was the last time you dialled — actually dialled — a phone? Have you ever? And yet, does anyone question why the arrangement of twelve buttons is called a dial?

      Expressions for which the origins are not known by the speaker are nothing new, and they are exactly the root cause of the mixed or muddled metaphor, such as, for instance, “It’s six and a half dozen of one or the other” or “that’s a bridge under water”.

      Don’t think about it too hard. It is of no significance whatsoever.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    Who knew a single penny could be worth millions in free publicity?

    • kc2idf says:

      +1 sir.

      The first thing that came to my mind was whether or not the Canadian Mint collected from the producers of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World for the occasions in the film where vanquished foes evaporated, video-game style, into piles of change. In multiple scenes, it was very clear that those coins were Canadian (as they should be for a film shot in Toronto) and you can easily make out the denominations, even when watching the film on a standard definition TV.

  3. spartan says:

    There used to be a similar rule regarding currency in the U.S. Look at an old I Love Lucy episode (or any other show or movie from that era) and you will see clearly fake money in any scene that involves cash.

    That’s why.

    • Bog says:

      Err. No, that’s not why. There has never been a similar rule in the U.S. Anything produced by the U.S. government is public domain. That includes images of money.

      The reason they used fake cash is there is no way they could afford to have real cash (in large amounts) on hand for a movie/tv shoot. They can use real money all they want but that would be a big liability. So they used the move script… But to have printed bills look like dollars, they need to clearly not be dollars so that someone doesn’t try to spend it… There are some simple rules about reproducing money for non-money purposes, like a reproduction of a dollar must be like 25% smaller or larger than the real bill etc…

      So I have actually held a suitcase of cash – a million “dollars!” – But it all was movie script that looked similar to the U.S. Dollar, but was quite different. It even said in small print “This is NOT real money or currency – this is note is used for display or artistic purposes and has no value. ”

  4. TBGBoodler says:

    Royalties. Not tax, despite what the National Post calls it, and not a fine.

  5. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    “We are amused by our likeness on an album cover” said the Queen of Canada.

  6. some.nerd says:

    So the government basically said, “Sorry aboot that, buddy?”
    “No problem, guy.”

    • Captain Spock says:

      “You’re not my Buddy, Guy!”

      “You’re Not my Guy, Friend!”

      “You’re not my friend, Buddy!”

      paraphrased a bit, but my favorite Terrance and Phillip bit (since most of them were shit* anyway)

      *pun intended.

  7. failfailfail says:

    Royalties != a fine

  8. Sarek says:

    Would he be charged royalties by the gov’t if he recorded, “Pennies From Heaven”?

  9. Rhinoguy says:

    I was under the impression that copyright prevented COPYING, not photography. They probably sent the violation to their Attorney General who said “This won’t stick in court”. I have made money selling pictures of cars without getting sued by GM or Ford. Not even by BMW.

  10. CountPacula says:

    My little story of how I ran into this myself. Several years ago, as an anniversary gift to my wife, I wrote a relatively simple target-shooting game with a “finance” theme that involved firing at ‘business opportunities’ as they flew across the screen. These opportunities were represented by coins, with the denomination indicating how lucrative and risky the opportunity was.

    Being Canadian, I had naturally used images of Canadian coins when originally building the game. However, on double-checking the legalities of this, I discovered that a licensing fee was required to use images of Canadian coins, even for a non-profit project such as my freeware game. On the other hand, checking the US Mint’s website indicated that most US coin images were free to use for pretty much any project, as long as credit for the images was given to the US Mint.

    Not interested in dealing with any amount of hassle over licensing, I simply swapped the Canadian coin images with their US counterparts, and slapped a “Coin images from the United States Mint – used with permission” note on the game.