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The Aboriginal Flag Copyright Will Be Made Free For Public Use Under $20 Million Deal

Stewart Perrie

Published 

The Aboriginal Flag Copyright Will Be Made Free For Public Use Under $20 Million Deal

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

The Australian government has organised a $20 million deal with the copyright owner of the Aboriginal flag to make it free for public use.

The huge move has been revealed just two days before Australia Day and is a massive step forward for First Nations people across the country.

Luritja artist Harold Thomas designed the flag, which has a black top half, red bottom half and a yellow circle in the middle, back in 1971.

He's held the intellectual property rights to the design since then and was granted exclusive use of it in 2018.

This has prevented First Nations groups and others from selling anything with their flag emblazoned on it because it was in breach of copyright rules.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

However, the federal government has finally been able to organise a deal to ensure everyone can use the flag.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more than two years of hard grafting has been put into securing the flag for all Australians.

"Throughout the negotiations, we have sought to protect the integrity of the Aboriginal Flag, in line with Harold Thomas' wishes," he said.

"I thank everyone involved for reaching this outcome, putting the flag in public hands."

In the deal, Mr Thomas gets to retain moral rights over the flag design however he relinquishes his exclusive rights to it.

All future royalties from the flag will be redirected to the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC).

There will also be an annual $100,000 scholarship set up for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders students.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Mr Thomas said: "In the future, the flag will remain, not as a symbol of struggle but as a symbol of pride and unity.

"I hope that this arrangement provides comfort to all Aboriginal people and Australians to use the Flag, unaltered, proudly and without restriction.

"I am grateful that my art is appreciated by so many, and that it has come to represent something so powerful to so many.

"The Flag represents the timeless history of our land and our people's time on it. It is an introspection and appreciation of who we are.

"It draws from the history of our ancestors, our land, and our identity and will honour these well into the future."

Scott Morrison said the Aboriginal flag will now be treated in the same way as the Australian flag, which means it can be used by all, however it must be 'presented in a respectful and dignified way', according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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