Using coin designs
This page contains general information about the legal restrictions which apply to the use of Australian currency coins and the reproduction of coin images and designs. The information in this page is provided as a general guide and should not be relied on as a form of legal advice.
Defacing, destroying or altering Australian currency coins
It is a criminal offence under the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 (Cth) to deface or destroy current Australian currency coins. It is also an offence to sell or possess current coins that have been defaced. Defacing a coin includes coating the surface of the money with any sort of material. The penalty for defacing coins , or selling or possessing money that has been defaced, is $5,000 or imprisonment for two years for an individual (or both), and $10,000 for a body corporate. You may also be guilty of the offence of making counterfeit money if you alter a genuine coin.
The destruction or alteration of designs used on coins may also infringe the right of the author of the design not to have an artistic work subject to derogatory treatment. The author's rights to 'integrity of authorship' are protected under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). If you do something in relation to an artistic work that is prejudicial to the author's honour or reputation, a court can order you to stop the infringing conduct, make a public apology, or pay damages to the artist.
Articles resembling genuine Australian currency coins
It is a criminal offence under the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 (Cth) to produce an article that resembles a genuine coin. If you produce replica money, and it is possible that a person might be deceived into thinking that the replica money is genuine Australian currency, you may have committed an offence under the Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 (Cth). The penalty for making counterfeit money is imprisonment for 14 years for an individual, and $75,000 for a body corporate. You may also be guilty of an offence if you sell or possess articles which resemble genuine coins.
You should seek legal advice if you propose to make or sell an article that resembles genuine Australian currency. The Mint cannot provide this advice.
The Commonwealth holds copyright in the designs and images used on Australian currency coins which were created after 1 May 1969. Copyright gives the copyright owner the exclusive right to reproduce designs and images from two-dimensional to three-dimensional form, and vice versa. Reproduction of designs and images without the permission of the copyright owner will be an infringement of copyright. If you do something that infringes another person's copyright, a court can order you to stop the infringing conduct and pay damages to the copyright owner.
In certain circumstances the Mint may agree to allow members of the public to reproduce coin designs in which it holds copyright. The Mint will not ordinarily grant approval for the reproduction of coin designs on articles which will be commercially produced and offered for sale (for example, articles such as T-shirts or coffee mugs). The Mint will also not grant approval for the reproduction of coin designs in a manner which could lead a person to believe that the Mint has endorsed the product, or is in some way associated with the product. If you wish to reproduce coin designs you should contact the Mint. Failure to do so may result in a breach of copyright and legal action by the Mint.