Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004

U.S. offers downloads of new $50 bill

October 2, 2004


— The U.S. government will offer over the Internet low-quality images of its new $50 bill for artists, students and others who discover that their computers, scanners or printers won't allow them to view or copy pictures of the new currency.

Uncle Sam is making sure that computers won't cooperate with would-be counterfeiters -- even as it tries to accommodate consumers who legitimately want or need images of the currency.

The government said it also would consider individual requests for higher-quality images, such as might be used in commercial art projects.

The low-quality images, suitable for school projects and other uses, will be available free at, a Web site run by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The new $50 bill was introduced this week.

"There is no limit on the ways that people may use images of currency. What we don't want is people whipping currency out of their pockets and making copies," said Eugenie Foster, cash project leader in the Federal Reserve Board's division of reserve bank operations and payment systems.

Making these digital copies is getting harder, thanks to secretive anti-counterfeiting technology built into some popular consumer hardware and software products at the request of government regulators and international bankers.

The technology detects and blocks attempts to view, scan or print copies of the redesigned $20 and $50 bills and, in a pop-up window, urges consumers to visit a Web site,, to learn about international counterfeit laws.

The technology, known as the Counterfeit Deterrence System, was designed by a consortium of 27 central banks in the United States, England, Japan, Canada and across the European Union, the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group.

Its broad adoption represents one of the rare occasions when the U.S. technology industry has quietly agreed to requests by government and finance officials to include third-party software code in commercial products.

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