Genealogists often get involved in issues of what is public domain versus what is copyrighted. The questions are often difficult, and the guidelines are not always clear. In fact, some of the claims are ludicrous. A perfect example now comes from a non-genealogy battle going on in Canada: the Canadian Mint claims to have copyrights to the phrase "one cent" and says that no one else may use that phrase. Huh?
It seems that a number of Canadian cities and municipalities have launched a publicity/lobbying campaign seeking a fixed take from the GST (Goods and Services Tax, a national Canadian sales tax similar to European VAT). The amount sought is 1 cent for each dollar of the purchase price as summarized by the slogan, "One Cent of the GST NOW." According to a press release, the Royal Canadian Mint (the federal agency that prints Canadian paper currency and stamps Canadian coins) has demanded from the City of Toronto $47,680 in royalties for use of the phrase "one cent" and the image of the Canadian penny. The first $10,000 covers the use of the words "one cent" in the campaign website address (www.onecentnow.ca). An additional $10,000 is demanded for the use of these words in the campaign phone number (416-ONE-CENT). The remaining $27,680 covers the use of the image of the Canadian penny in printed materials, such as pins and posters."
This is getting out of hand. Copyright for the words "one cent?" You can read more about this ridiculous legal action at http://tinyurl.com/2grnr2.