Government buys flag’s copyright to make it free to fly — Analysis

A deal struck between Canberra and the Aboriginal flag’s creator resulted in a payment of over $14 Million

After a lengthy and expensive battle, the Canberra government reached an agreement to copyright it with its creator.

Harold Thomas (an activist and artist who is a descendant from the Luritja people in Central Australia) designed the Aboriginal flag and it was adopted by government officials as an official flag on May 15, 1995.

The deal is the culmination of a ‘Free the Flag’ campaign to untangle the complicated network of copyright licensing agreements and put it into the public domain. The government will pay 20 million Australian dollars (over $14m) of taxpayers’ money to achieve this goal, local media reported.

Settlement includes payment to Thomas who is in his 70s and completes the extinction of all licenses. The Commonwealth will retain the copyright but the artist will still have the moral rights. 

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“In reaching this agreement to resolve the copyright issues, all Australians can freely display and use the flag to celebrate Indigenous culture,” Ken Wyatt, the country’s federal minister for Indigenous Australians, said.

Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister said that the deal would be completed. “protect the integrity of the Aboriginal Flag, in line with Harold Thomas’ wishes.”This image will be treated as the flag of the country in the same respect that the national flag is.

Thomas expressed optimism that the deal would be completed. “provide comfort to all Aboriginal people and Australians to use the flag, unaltered, proudly, and without restriction.”

The flag represents the timeless history of our land and our people’s time on it. The flag is a reflection and an appreciation of our individuality.

This campaign is to “free”The Aboriginal flag was first launched in response to public revelations that WAM Clothing in 2018 had acquired exclusive rights for the use of the Aboriginal logo in clothing designs sold worldwide. Laura Thompson was the campaigner who created its slogan. The grassroots movement gained momentum in 2020. The hashtag #FreeTheFlag was adopted by the supporters to celebrate their victory.

Two horizontal black-and-red stripes are displayed on the banner, which symbolises the Aboriginal population of Australia as well as the land that is inextricably connected with the indigenous inhabitants. The sun is represented by the yellow circle in the middle.

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