Copying and advertising of notes and coins

Can I distribute banknotes and coins with advertising on?

Chapter 5, Article 5 of the Sveriges Riksbank Act prohibits the distribution of banknotes and coins that have been altered or tampered with. This prohibition is due to the use of coins as advertising, which is to say that coins issued by the Riksbank have been altered by a third party through the use of advertising stickers. It is important that banknotes and coins are difficult to counterfeit. It must also be easy to identify them and ensure that they are genuine. Using coins as advertising risks impeding this and such coins should therefore not be distributed. There is also a risk that the Riksbank will incorrectly be perceived as initiating or supporting the message of the advertising. Anybody contributing to such prohibited distribution risks paying a fine to the Riksbank.

Can I use images of banknotes and coins?

Under the law, it is prohibited to counterfeit banknotes and coins, to use counterfeit banknotes and coins and to distribute anything that could be mistaken for banknotes and coins. The motifs on banknotes and coins may also be protected by copyright.

There are no rules specifying exactly how a banknote or coin may be depicted without breaking the law. What may be permitted is a matter for the public prosecutor and the courts to decide. Consequently, the Riksbank is unable to take a stance on whether a depiction may be considered a counterfeit or an infringement of copyright. The following information should be used as a guideline.

If I use an image of a banknote, how do I make sure that it will not be considered a counterfeit?

In the Riksbank's opinion, a banknote can be depicted without risk of being considered a counterfeit if:

  • only one side of the banknote is depicted and the image is at least 125 per cent or at most 75 per cent of the banknote's actual length and breadth.
  • both sides of the banknote are depicted and the image is at least 200 per cent or at most 50 per cent of the banknote's actual length and breadth.
  • only part of the obverse or reverse is depicted and this part is less than one-third of the banknote's actual size.
  • the depiction is made from material that in no way resembles paper and that looks completely different from the material used for banknotes.
  • the banknote is depicted in electronic form with an image resolution not exceeding 72 dpi and with the word "specimen" written in capital letters diagonally across the banknote.
  • The length of the word "specimen" must be at least 75 per cent of the banknote's length and the height of the word must be at least 15 per cent of the banknote's breadth.
  • The text must also be written in an opaque colour that clearly contrasts with the colour of the banknote.

The Riksbank advises against manufacturing objects that are similar to coins in appearance, size and other characteristics.

What does copyright mean and what are the rules for banknotes and coins?

The motifs on the banknotes are made up of portraits, environmental images, symbols and texts. In many cases, these are based on works of art, such as photographs, that are protected by copyright. This means that they may not be depicted and distributed without the consent of the copyright holder. The Riksbank has received permission to use copyright-protected works in the production and distribution of banknotes and for banknote information purposes. Depicting banknotes for purposes other than providing information about the banknotes may be an infringement of copyright. The coins do not feature any motifs based on protected works of art.

If the holders of the copyrighted artistic works give their consent, the Riksbank has no objections to the depiction of banknotes and coins as long as such depiction does not affect confidence in banknotes and coins as a means of payment. However, the guidelines for protection against counterfeiting given above must always be complied with when a banknote or coin is depicted. 

Originators of artistic works always have a moral right. This means that their works may not be changed or spread in a way that damages the originator's reputation or character. 

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Updated 21/10/2022