Australian govt buys Aboriginal Flag copyright for over US$14m

by BERNAMA / pic by AFP

CANBERRA – The Australian government has acquired the rights to the Aboriginal Flag, making it freely available for public use.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (picture) and Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt on Tuesday announced the government acquired the copyright for the iconic flag from its designer Harold Thomas, reported Xinhua.

It means Australians can now use the flag design, which is divided horizontally into halves of black (top) and red (bottom) with a yellow circle in the centre, freely on clothing, for art, and at sporting events without seeking permission or paying a fee.

According to the Guardian Australia, the government paid more than AUS$20 million  (US$14.2 million) for the copyright.

Wyatt said the flag now belonged to Australians.

“The Aboriginal Flag is an enduring symbol close to the heart of Aboriginal people,” he said in a joint statement with Morrison.

“In reaching this agreement to resolve the copyright issues, all Australians can freely display and use the flag to celebrate Indigenous culture.”

The flag designer Thomas has indicated that he intends to use AUS$2 million (US$1.4 million) to establish an Australian Aboriginal Flag Legacy not-for-profit to make periodic disbursements aligned with the interests of Aboriginal Australians and the flag.

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

“The flag represents the timeless history of our land and our people’s time on it.”

Morrison said the flag would be managed in a similar manner to the national flag whereby it “must be presented in a respectful and dignified way”.