Penny saved is a penny copyrighted

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The lowly penny might have little value in monetary circulation, but as an art object, well, that’s an entirely different matter.

Pictou County musician Dave Gunning found that out recently, much to his surprise, as the Royal Canadian Mint still has its paws all over the copper where copyright is concerned. But count on a fine folksinger to put the material to good use.

Gunning ran into the snag as he geared up for his latest CD release, “No More Pennies,” on Sept. 18. In a bit of a homage to the soon-to-be-defunct coin, the album art features it from a couple of angles.

With artwork designed by Michael Wrycraft, the front cover depicts someone sitting at a lunch counter, trying to scrape up enough change to pay for his coffee – a sentimental way of saying goodbye to a small piece of money that once helped a lot of working-class joes make ends meet.

On the back, a sunset image features a penny sinking below the horizon.

Representatives of the Mint got in touch to let Gunning know such a depiction would be in breach of copyright. Furthermore, as if the Canadian entity literally holding a licence to print money really needed it, they decided to charge for the use.

That led to the penny drive idea.

The Mint, upon hearing of the plans, graciously let Gunning off the hook for the initial run of CDs, but they’re holding firm on future production. So the singer-songwriter is asking fans to bring pennies to album-release shows this fall for an old-fashioned penny drive to help cover the Mint’s demands. In turn, Gunning plans to make a donation of $1,200 to the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax.

It’s an amusing, kind of convoluted turn of events, with – at the heart of it all – a coin worth less than its cost of production and headed for the scrap heap.

But if the penny drive goes well, everyone turns out a winner: the fans, the artist, the IWK and, irony of ironies, the Royal Mint for recognizing there’s gold in that there nostalgia.

Organizations: Royal Canadian Mint, Hospital in Halifax.It

Geographic location: Pictou County

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Recent comments

  • Brian Stewart
    September 15, 2012 - 19:48

    The fact that the currency ( even the penny ) is copyrighted is proof IT IS PRIVATE and not PUBLIC tender.....That is why usury ( interest ) is being charged and why Christ said "render ( give back ) unto Caesar that which is Caesar's....." We need to issue our own public script and it must be usury free in accordance to the Law.....and for those who do not know, all law ( Allah ) comes from the Bible....Remember God gave man dominion...not specific man but man collectively...Do no harm....and enjoy your joint as you have dominion over the herbs as well. Judge's make and take oath to the sovereign lady Mary Margaret Windsor and she took an oath to defend God's Law....she can not add to or take away from God's Law and admits on her own web site that she does not make OUR laws... Acts and statutes are copyrighted private laws as well and apply to those in the public sector.... The Saints are now marching in...

  • Sam
    September 14, 2012 - 16:17

    Mr. Wycraft, this is Canada, not the US. No matter what convoluted excuses you try to give, the bottom line remains- YOU SCREWED UP. A little bit of research before you act can work wonders!

  • Michael Wrycraft
    September 13, 2012 - 02:14

    What designer, photographer or printer would not realize that you can't use certain objects without permission especially Canadian currency? is what NO OFFENSE wrote This graphic designer for one let me explain i'm michael wrycraft the graphic designer who designed the "no more pennies" album for dave gunning under the name "a man called wrycraft" i design albums as a career the main reason we didn't think about it is that while working in the u.s. for ten years i had on numerous occasions used american currency in ad campaigns because the u.s. doesn't charge mechanical royalties on usage of the image so it truly didn't occur to us... down south they consider currency to be in the public domain... the imagery not counterfeit forgeries so that's why there is a lot of confusion out there as to the actual penny images the mint wants to charge mechanical royalties on it's not the blurry pennies on the cover that has them the most excited it's the penny illustrations inside the package that combine (copyright-free) black and white turn-of-the-century lithographs with actual penny scans here is a link for anyone interested in seeing the actual cd package art penny for your thoughts cheers, michael

  • Mike
    September 12, 2012 - 18:41

    The band can use images of older pennies, Canadian postage stamps 1949 and earlier are in the public domain world wide and it can't be much different with pennies. If the band has to pay big I hope they pay in pennies.

  • Deb
    September 12, 2012 - 10:10

    This is ludicrous! Only our government could even begin imagine coming up with it! Uggh!

    • no offense
      September 12, 2012 - 12:18

      No offense to Dave, since I love his music, but what designer, photographer or printer would not realize that you can't use certain objects without permission especially Canadian Currency. This is not new and as silly as it may seem copy right infringement laws are important. I think the question is the qualifications of the designer. Even certain tag lines and names have to be researched for liability before printing. Good publicity for the CD though...