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Using Pictures of Paper Money

Legally Using Illustrations of Paper Currency

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Close up of american banknotes
JamieB / RooM / Getty Images
We all wish we had more money at one time or another. But no matter where you live, the government generally frowns on the practice of just printing up our own money whenever we want. Fortunately for designers, there are a few instances where we can make our own money - by incorporating images of money in our advertising materials.

Using illustrations of actual paper currency in whole or in part within marketing materials is quite common. However, to keep on the right side of the law you must be familiar with the legal requirements for reproduction of paper currency for your country.

While there are general similarities, each country has its own restrictions. Reproductions must be done in such a way as to not be confused with actual paper currency. Some of the most common conditions are (not all apply to every country):

  • Size - smaller or larger than original, the amount varies by country

  • Color - black & white reproductions only or the use of distinctly different colors from original

  • One-side - reproductions cannot be double-sided

  • Surface Area - only a certain percentage of the overall surface of one side of the bill may be depicted

  • Orientation - currency must be at an angle within the illustration

  • Labeling - placing the word "Specimen" or "Sample" across the illustration

  • Material - some types of reproductions can only be placed on materials that are not paper or paper-like

  • Permission - in some countries you must request permission in writing before reproducing banknotes in advertising or for educational purposes

  • Creative Materials - disposal of scans, negatives, plates, or other materials used in creating the currency reproductions

Before you slap a $100 bill across that ad you're designing, check the laws for your country's currency.

In addition to countries listed in the sidebar, check the legal usage for pictures of The Euro

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