28 August
Unlike the Australian National and state flags, the copyright in the Aboriginal Flag is privately owned. Photo by Stephen Tafra on Unsplash

Confused about Copyright and the Aboriginal Flag?

The Aboriginal Flag has been under the spotlight since the AFL announced they would not be using the flag in their 2020 Indigenous Round. But why and how is the Aboriginal Flag different to other flags? Unlike the Australian flag (and those of other countries for instance) the copyright in the Aboriginal Flag is privately owned.

The Aboriginal Flag was designed in 1971 by Luritja artist Harold Thomas. Thomas owns the copyright to the flag, this means he holds the sole rights to reproduce the flag and can allow others to use it through various licensing agreements.

Our Info Sheet Permission to Use an Image, lays out the steps you need to take if you would like to get permission to use the Aboriginal flag or another image that is subject to copyright: https://www.artslaw.com.au/information-sheet/permission-to-use-an-image-eg-the-aboriginal-flag/

For an in depth explanation about private ownership of copyright of the aboriginal flag and the consequences we recommend this article by Nathan Mattock and Emma Johnsen from Marque Lawyers: Who owns the Aboriginal Flag?

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