Canadian mint: We own the words "one cent" and Toronto can't use them

A campaign to raise funds for cash-strapped Canadian cities has been contemptuously sabotaged by the federal government, who are demanding thousands of dollars in royalties for use of the "copyrighted" image of a Canadian penny and the phrase "one cent."

OneCentNow is a campaign by the City of Toronto to get the federal government to return one cent of the national Goods and Services Tax to Toronto, which is struggling in the wake of decades of federal cuts in their budget-transfers.

Now the federal corporation that mints Canada's currency has sent the City of Toronto a bill for more than $47,000 for the use of the words "one cent" and the picture of a penny in the campaign's logo in a citywide public education effort.

The Royal Canadian Mint, a corporation of the federal government, has now demanded that the City of Toronto pay $47,680 for the public education campaign. Included in this amount is a request for $10,000 for the use of the words "one cent" in the campaign website address ( and the campaign email address (, and an additional $10,000 for the use of the words "one cent" in the campaign phone number (416-ONECENT). The remaining $27,680 has been assessed against the City for the use of the image of the Canadian penny in printed materials such as pins and posters. (The Mint has come to this amount by taking the total number of materials printed divided by the approximate population of Toronto, and then using a percentage of that number to arrive at a dollar figure.)
Link (Thanks, Dave!)


  1. seriously. i can not even begin to describe the degree to which this noise can get fucked.

    Might as well call the shape and name of the country the governments intellectual property.

  2. Look on the bright side: America gets to be better than Canada at something now.

    (And FYI I’m American)

  3. Yessss!! I never thought the Canadian gov’t would out-stupid ours on anything!

    Do they own the copyright on “penny?” Will they start suing people for using the cliché “penny for your thoughts?”

    I think it’s especially damning that they’re abusing copyright to silence a political position.

  4. My instinct is to demand that a government entity stop charging Canadians for using what belongs to them by right of citizenship and taxes. “You can’t charge royalties for flying the maple leaf flag”, etc. But then of course the Mint isn’t quite a government entity, it’s a “crown corporation”, which has the monopoly rights and claim to legitimacy of the government, without the public accountability and oversight that usually go along with public service. Somehow our money belongs to somebody other than our actual elected government. Huh?

    I suppose it could be worse: we could sell off the mint completely to a private company, a la BC Ferries.

  5. Remember the recent news stories about how having fat friends can make you fat? This clearly applies to fat-headedness as well…looks like the increasing fatitude of US governmental minds is creeping northward to our Canadian neighbors…just my 2 cents…

  6. pssh. it’s about time toronto got put in its place. i might be able to eke out some righteous indignation if this were happening to a genuinely cash-strapped canadian city, but toronto? honky please.

    and yes. in principle it’s asinine and terrible. it just couldn’t happen to a nicer municipality.

  7. The fed is running yet another surplus while the city of Toronto struggles to pay the bills.

    Niceness isn’t the issue here, fairness is.

  8. Steven: Ah, yes, completely ordinary citizens aren’t *genuinely* being shafted with a compromised transit system, crumbling municipal infrastructure, and slashed social programs. We’re all just pretending!

    If you dislike the idea of big-city bully Toronto for whatever personal reasons, gnash your teeth in private all you want. But the lack of city cash affects real people, as Canadian and as deserving of a high standard of life as any other citizen in this country.

  9. Wait a tick…didn’t they just announce this week that they were seriously considering scrapping the penny because they cost too much to produce?

    And Steven, to add to the comment by Gloria…Toronto is about 1/2 billion dollars short in the budget. They have cut out a lot of pork from the budget, about 83 Million. Is there more that could be done…yes, of course there is, but Canada’s largest city cannot afford to make serious cuts to much at this point. Watermains and Sewers are on average about 50 years old. They soon need to be replaced, or risk cave-ins and personal injuries.
    Years of provincial cuts under the previous conservative government have left Toronto (as well as other cities) paying for things that they have not needed to in the past. Even with rising taxes and the like, the amount going out never came back to the amount coming in. The reserve money is gone, and BOTH provincial and Federal governments have surpluses. It’s not that we want MORE money (though we do), we want our FAIR share of the tax money brought in provincially and federally.

  10. You have got to be frickin’ kiddin’ me!!

    It’s not mbarrassing enough we get tagged with mounties, beavers, snow and maple syrup?!

    Now we have to be associated with complete retards?

    geeze louise

  11. Down here in the next country South you can’t copyright government documents. And I don’t see why pennies wouldn’t qualify. Strange country up there, eh?

  12. All I can do is sit here, mouth hanging open, shaking my head.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Canada, and they always seemed like such nice, friendly, RATIONAL folks.

    I guess you just never know.


  13. This makes me wonder if all those who I thought were fascist copyright freaks are not actually surrealist conceptual artists working with society as their canvas.

    And from a business point of view, think of the scope of this one: all the coinage of all countries using decimal currency could fall under this copyright claim, and every time anyone advertises the price of their goods they should pay a royalty to the Canadian Mint, and so on. And it is cheap at the price, compared to what happened to Jammie Thomas over her music downloads.

    I’m so glad my name is not Penny.

    That’s my two cents worth anyway (uh oh).

  14. Seems there is finally a real reason to call the CAD the Loony: Clearly it comes from a seriously insane source. And they thought we were silly because of the “spy quarter” issue.

  15. Please tell me to where I can write and to whom I can call to express what I think of this absolute ape dung.

  16. I think this is more a partisan issue than a copyright one.

    The feds (who appoint the board who control the Mint [see the wiki entry on the Mint for details]) are adamantly anti-Toronto and think they have nothing to lose by bashing and underfunding Toronto (where around 10% of all Canadians reside). We haven’t forgiven them, provincially or federally, for the titanic excesses and betrayals of the 80s and 90s, and elect very few Conservative MPs or MPPs.

    @ EPP_B
    Everyone who cares about the economic health of Toronto, and by extension the rest of Canada, should take a moment to register their discontent with those pigs via the ‘contact us’ button on their website [ ].

    Even if one hates Toronto, it is currently the golden goose, like it or not. And Gloria is right, Toronto’s infastructure IS falling apart, and unless one is committed to abandoning the city to the forces of nature (and letting the disease and crime migrate to more affluent cities) it needs to be paid for. Toronto pays more federal tax than it receives back in transfers – and fair enough, our money goes to subsidize the rest of the country, but if we can’t pay because we are knee deep in sewage and urban cancers, then all other Canadians will suffer as well.

  17. @ EPP_B
    Everyone who cares about the economic health of Toronto, and by extension the rest of Canada, should take a moment to register their discontent with those pigs via the ‘contact us’ button on their website [ ].

    Of course, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that. Thanks.

  18. the penny was designed in 1937 by a fellow who died in 1943. Under copyright law, copyright on images expires 50 years after the death of creator. Even if the copyright is owned by the Government, crown copyright in canada lasts 50 years after publication.

    In this case the design of the penny went out of copyright in either 1987 or 1993.

    So moral/idiocy issues aside, the Mint cannot even own the copyright it is claiming to own.

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