Photoshop Blocks Editing Banknotes

January 14th, 2013

You’re getting a two-fer this Money Monday because while drafting the post on the EU banning large cash transactions I discovered a bizarre, and frankly infuriating feature of the Adobe Photoshop CS6 software. This only further bolsters my thesis that determined central planners must infect the entire society with petty little micromanaging regulations if they have any hope of their schemes even remotely functioning.

It may appear that the image on these two posts was relatively simple to create. A 500 euro banknote plastered with “FERBOTTEN.” It should have been no more complex than the average Facebook meme, but it required a cumbersome workaround. Because when I tried to paste the image of the 500 euro banknote I found online I got this error message:

That’s right… Big Brother is in our graphics editing software. Even a screen capture triggered the alert, so this wasn’t some kind of copyright protection embedded in the file. Adobe Photoshop now has some kind of image recognition that prevents you from importing banknotes.

I was able to get the image by shrinking the window, taking multiple screenshots, and then reconstructing the parts in the software. Screwing around with banknote images is a major reason I have this software, and I’ll be damned if I can’t find a workaround. But there’s no telling what else is going on in the background of this software if this is how they operate. Do they record these alerts? What else does the image recognition malware look for? Have they put me on a list?

The error message leads to, a webpage operated by The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group (CBCDG), a perfectly fascist sounding quasi-government organization. Their homepage describes this invasive malware as:

“A counterfeit deterrence system (CDS) has been developed by the CBCDG to deter the use of personal computers, digital imaging equipment, and software in the counterfeiting of banknotes. The CDS has been voluntarily adopted by hardware and software manufacturers, and prevents personal computers and digital imaging tools from capturing or reproducing the image of a protected banknote.”

What stood out to me was”voluntarily adopted.” I’m looking at you Adobe. What business does an American software company have enforcing European laws (or even US laws for that matter) on Americans? How about doing a little looking out for your customers? Nobody anywhere is counterfeiting banknotes by printing low resolution images off of websites.

The site also contains information specific to each country and banknote about the laws around using the images. In addition to containing a link to high resolution images of each banknote, which is just idiotic, here’s what it says for the EU:

For publicly accessible digital images, a banknote may be reproduced if both the following criteria are met:

  • The resolution of the image is 72 dpi or less.
  • The word “SPECIMEN” is printed diagonally across the reproduction in a contrasting colour.

First off, 72 dpi is standard for screen resolution. So, anything I copy off a website, and anything I post on a website is going to be 72 dpi or less, making this malware utterly pointless. Second, how am I supposed to add the world “SPECIMEN” if I’m barred from editing the note in my graphics software? (Assume it says “specimen” under where it says “ferbotten.” I promise.)

Here’s what it says for the US dollar:

The Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, Public Law 102-550, in Section 411 of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, permits color illustrations of U.S. currency, provided that:

  1. the illustration is of a size less than three-fourths or more than one and one-half, in linear dimension, of each part of the item illustrated;
  2. the illustration is one-sided; and
  3. all negatives, plates, positives, digitized storage medium, graphic files, magnetic medium, optical storage devices and any other thing used in the making of the illustration that contain an image of the illustration or any part thereof are destroyed and/or deleted or erased after their final use.

This may come as some surprise to the folks at CBCDG, but everything on the web is one sided.

So essentially what this malware does is prevent me from using the software in perfectly legal ways. Thanks alot Adobe. I’ll leave you with this:

Visit to learn more about our upcoming 3D animated film. Also, the Silver Circle graphic novel is available now at the following hyperlinks in full color and black and white.

About the Author: Davi Barker

In grade school Davi refused to recite the pledge of allegiance because he didn't understand what it meant. He was ordered to do as he was told. In college he spent hours scouring through the congressional record trying to understand this strange machine. That's where he discovered Dr. Ron Paul. In 2007 he joined the End The Fed movement and found a political home with the libertarians. The Declaration of Independence claims that the government derives its power “from the consent of the governed." He does not consent.