Canadian Mint taxing musician for using image of penny in protest

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

It's going to take more than a pretty penny for one musician to pay off the Royal Canadian Mint, which has levied a hefty tax against the artist for appropriating an image of the nation's outgoing coinage on his latest album.

Dave Gunning says he wanted to pay tribute to the Canadian penny, which will cease production at the end of 2012, on his upcoming album, "No More Pennies."

However, CBC News reports that once the Royal Canadian Mint heard about the album cover concept, it told Dave Gunning that for every 2,000 albums sold, he must fill out an application asking for permission to continue using the image, then pay $1,200 in fees.

Gunning's album cover shows a person at a lunch counter attempting to come up with enough change to pay for a cup of coffee.

In response to the Mint's fees, Gunning has asked fans to bring pennies to shows on his upcoming fall tour so he can afford to continue selling the album, which debuts Sept. 18. The Mint has waived the fees on the first 2,000 copies but said Gunning must pay for all future sales.

"The Mint has an Intellectual Property Policy in place to protect its IP assets, which includes coin images, and ensure their appropriate use," a Mint spokeswoman told the CBC. "In instances where an approved use is being made for commercial gain (as would be the case with an ad campaign or selling music CDs), royalty fees are applied."

The Royal Canadian Mint has made news several times this year: First with the announcement in March that it would discontinue the penny, then again in April, with the announcement of a glow-in-the-dark quarter.

Ironically, the Royal Canadian Mint found out about the album cover only after an employee there told administrators, reportedly thinking the Mint would be supportive of the gesture.

"Turns out I have a big fan who works for the Canadian Mint," Gunning told the CBC. "He got the idea, 'The Canadian Mint should get behind this. Maybe we could actually sell the CD in our gift shop.'"