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The Aboriginal flag now belongs to ALL Australians after copyright transfer

The Aboriginal flag now belongs to ALL Australians after copyright is transferred to the public in $20 million taxpayer-funded deal

  • The Aboriginal flag is put into public hands for the first time
  • The $20 million settlement ends a long-running legal dispute over the use of the flag
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison was grateful that the flag had been placed in public hands



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The Aboriginal flag belongs to everyone after the federal government struck a deal to take over the copyright.

The flag was previously owned by the flag’s designer, Harold Thomas and a non-Indigenous clothing company, and is now freely available for public use.

It comes after a number of indigenous groups received warnings about using the flag in an apparent copyright infringement.

The Aboriginal flag can now be used by anyone without the specter of legal action.

The Aboriginal flag can now be used by anyone without the specter of legal action.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said it is “very important to all Australians”, adding “no one can take it away”.

“Over the past 50 years we’ve internalized the artwork of Harold Thomas – we marched under the Aboriginal flag, stood behind it and flew it high like a point of pride,” he said.

What does the Aboriginal flag represent?

BLACK: Represents the Aboriginal people of past, present and future

RED: represents the earth and a spiritual relationship with the land

YELLOW: represents the sun, giver of life

“On reaching this agreement to resolve the copyright issues, all Australians will be able to freely display and use the flag to celebrate Indigenous culture.”

Carroll and Richardson Flagworld continue to be the exclusive licensed manufacturer and supplier of Aboriginal flags and flags.

But Flagworld will not restrict individuals from creating their own flag for personal use.

Under the $20 million deal, the Commonwealth will spend all future royalties received from Flagworld’s sale of the flag toward NAIDOC’s work.

In addition, an annual scholarship in honor of Mr Thomas will be provided to Indigenous students and an original painting commemorating the 50th anniversary of the flag by the government will be displayed.

Thomas says he will use $2 million to create an Australian Aboriginal Flag Legacy nonprofit.

‘The design of the Aboriginal flag is my dream, intertwined with my wife’s family and mine, our ancestral property. The land and landscape are indelible in my makeup; it flows through my conscious and subconscious mind,” he said.

“The flag represents the timeless history of our country and the time of our people on it. It is an introspection and appreciation for who we are. It draws from the history of our ancestors, our country and our identity and will honor them well into the future.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was grateful that the flag had been put into public hands.

Harold Thomas designed the famous flag in 1971 and won a Supreme Court battle in 1997 to become the sole owner of the copyright, before passing the copyright licenses for several products to other companies.

Harold Thomas designed the famous flag in 1971 and won a Supreme Court battle in 1997 to become the sole owner of the copyright, before passing the copyright licenses for several products to other companies.

Harold Thomas designed the famous flag in 1971 and won a Supreme Court battle in 1997 to become the sole owner of the copyright, before passing the copyright licenses for several products to other companies.

“The Aboriginal flag will now be administered in the same way as the Australian national flag where its use is free but must be presented in a respectful and dignified manner,” he said.

All Australians can now put the Aboriginal flag on clothing such as sports jerseys and shirts, it can be painted on sports grounds, included on websites, in paintings and other works of art, used digitally and in any other medium without having to ask permission or pay compensation.

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