Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publications submitted these thoughts on the situation faced by publishers due to the Royal Canadian Mint's copyright on coin images. Thanks!
Another great issue of The E-Sylum last week! You excerpted an article forwarded by Tom Kays --- “Musician vs Royal Canadian Mint” --- that immediately brought back memories of working on Jim Haxby’s Guide Book of Canadian Coins and Tokens, the first edition of which was published this year (and which won the Numismatic Literary Guild’s 2012 award for Best Specialized Book, World Coins).
Back when we started the project, I spent some quality time with the RCM’s Compliance and Intellectual Property officers, making sure that Whitman’s i’s were dotted and our t’s were crossed. Our Canadian cousins take a different approach than the U.S. Mint when it comes to images of their coins (historical designs as well as modern). Permission to publish the images has to be licensed --- even, interestingly, if the publisher uses its own photographs.
There’s plenty of precedent in Canadian law for this kind of protection of the Royal Canadian Mint’s intellectual property. In other words, the musician, Mr. Gunning, isn’t jumping through any hoops that other publishers haven’t had to jump through over the years. For the Guide Book of Canadian Coins and Tokens, Whitman’s compliance is established on the copyright page, where we note Canadian coin images © 2012 Royal Canadian Mint—All Rights Reserved / Images de pièce © 2012 Monnaie royale canadienne—Touts droits réservés.
The closest United States equivalent that immediately comes to mind: the U.S. Postal Service similarly protects its stamp designs as intellectual property, and requires licensing for publication (whether the USPS provides the image itself or the publisher uses its own). The Postal Service, of course, is a bit different from the U.S. Mint; it executes its licensing agreements as “an Independent Establishment of the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States,” rather than as part of a federal department (as the Mint is part of the Treasury Department). The USPS’s contracts are almost amusingly thorough—for example, in Whitman’s 100 Greatest American Stamps, we had to agree not to use any stamp images “in a manner that is likely to be viewed as violent, sexually provocative, offensive, obscene, in violation of hate crime laws, or otherwise likely to shock or offend the community.”
Who knew our hobbies could be so controversial and outrageous!
The above image of a book bearing images of copyrighted images of Canadian coins is probably copyrighted by ... somebody.
Joe Boling adds:
Now we know why there is no image of a Canadian cent on the "end of the cent" commemorative - the seigniorage earned by the production department is not enough to pay the royalties demanded by the art department! $1200 for every 2000 copies? Highway robbery.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: SEPTEMBER 16, 2012: Musician vs Royal Canadian Mint
Wayne Homren, Editor
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