Why Do Canada And Europe Copyright Money?

from the questions,-questions,-questions? dept

We've discussed in the past the odd idea that any government should be able to copyright anything it produces, but plenty of governments still do maintain things like "crown copyright" or other similar concepts for content they create. Yet, it looks like some countries have gone one step further. They copyright their money. Yes, Michael Scott points us to a blog post from an American law professor, Eric E. Johnson, who was on a trip to Canada and was surprised to discover that they have copyright notices on their paper currency. Of course, this should make you wonder: if you counterfeit some Canadian money are you also on the hook for copyright infringement violations? Or is there some other reason for the copyright notice. Are they afraid other nations might copy the design without compensation?

Finding the whole thing bizarre, but remembering that I have some Canadian currency from my last trip there, I checked -- and, indeed, in tiny print in the lower right-hand corner, there is a copyright notice. And then... bonus. Tucked in with my Canadian cash was a 5 euro bill as well... and it also appears to have a copyright notice on it right at the top in the center (though, it's tiny). I did a quick search, and indeed, it appears that the design of the euro is also covered by copyright with specific limitations on copying. Of course, I thought that was what counterfeiting laws were for -- so why even bother with copyright?

Filed Under: canada, copyright, currency, europe, money

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  1. identicon
    Joe, 5 Nov 2009 @ 11:48am

    counterfeiting versus reproductions

    I think the goal here was to give the bank tools to combat counterfeiting as well as reproductions.

    Their reasoning is explained here:


    They make exceptions for video usage and also go into more detail with:


    The Bank's goals with respect to the reproduction of bank note images

    Although the Bank is the copyright owner of the images used on Canadian bank notes, it recognizes that currency is an important symbol of value in Canada. Accordingly, people may wish to reproduce images for appropriate reasons. The Bank will ordinarily consent to such reproductions if

    a)there is no risk that the reproduced image could be mistaken for a genuine note or misused by counterfeiters

    b)the proposed use does not tarnish the dignity and importance of currency to Canadians.


    I would assume the EU and Britain's logic is somewhat similar.

    Judging how i see little plastic $10,000 key chains in the tourist stores, I don't think this is overly enforced.


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