Australia bought the copyright to the Aboriginal flag allowing the population to use it freely in a respectful manner.
Australia bought the copyright to the Aboriginal flag, the government announced on January 25.
The population can now use the flag freely in public space as a commercial dispute with the owner restricted sporting teams and Aboriginal communities from using its image. Aboriginal Flag copyright has been transferred to the Commonwealth.
By acquiring its copyright, the population, sports teams, websites or any other artists or companies can use the flag without asking for permission or paying a fee. In 2019, the Aboriginal clothing company Clothing the gaps was threatened with legal action for selling clothing on it.
“The Aboriginal Flag will now be managed in a similar manner to the Australian National Flag, where its use is free, but must be presented in a respectful and dignified way“, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
US$14 million for Aboriginal flag’s copyright to be transferred to the Commonwealth
Australia made the announcement a day before the national day, which some protestors call “Invasion Day“ referring to the invasion perceived by Indigenous communities when the British fleet came and settled a penal colony.
The flag was created by indigenous artist Harold Thomas for a demonstration in 1971. “The flag represents the timeless history of our land and our people’s time on it“, he said in a statement.
The government has paid A$20 million (US$14 million) to Harold Thomas and to extinguish licenses held by a small number of companies.
As part of the copyright transfer, Harold Thomas will retain his moral rights. Future royalties collected by the Commonwealth for selling the flag will be sent to the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.
Harold Thomas has indicated that he intends to use $2 million to establish an Australian Aboriginal Flag Legacy not-for-profit to make periodic disbursements aligned with interests of Aboriginal Australians and the flag.