Reports that two Aboriginal-owned companies and the AFL have received cease warnings over their use of the Aboriginal flag on garb have left many Australians surprised and careworn.


An employer known as WAM Clothing, no longer owned with the aid of Indigenous Australians, currently has exclusive rights to apply the flag on apparel. It has issued stop and desist notices to agencies inclusive of the AFL (which uses the flag on club jerseys for its Indigenous round) and Spark Health, an Indigenous social company. The latter has released an internet petition calling for the copyright preparations to be changed.

While there’s no want for absolutely everyone to get permission to apply the Australian flag, so long as they abide via the pointers respecting its use, this is not the case for the Aboriginal flag.

The motive is that the Aboriginal flag is a copyrighted work owned by using the artist who created it over 40 years in the past – Luritja guy Harold Thomas.

Thomas created the flag for a countrywide Indigenous day in July 1971, and this isn’t the first time his flag has been embroiled in a copyright controversy.

When it become followed as the flag of the Aboriginal people of Australia by way of proclamation of the Governor-General on July 14, 1995, numerous other claimants came ahead maintaining that they have been the artist at the back of it. Thomas turned into a success in setting up his declare to authorship earlier than the Federal Court in 1997.

As the creator of the flag, Thomas is its proprietor and might grant licences to other parties to make copies of the flag, or certainly refuse its use altogether.

Under Australian regulation, his copyright will ultimate for 70 years after his death, and can be claimed through his heirs or all people else to whom he might pick out to assign it. Thomas can assert his rights against everyone making any copy of the flag, even if they’re not promoting it or using it commercially – this can even include bringing an movement in opposition to someone with a tattoo of the flag.

Following the Federal Court choice in 1997, Thomas granted a licence to a company called Flags 2000, giving that business enterprise the right to reproduce and manufacture the flag. In 2003, Flags 2000 and Thomas added a success action in opposition to a man named Mr. Smith, who had made and sold copies of the flag without permission.

Today, the licence to apply the flag on gadgets of clothing is held by means of WAM Clothing. This become granted by using Thomas in October 2018.

One of the owners of WAM Clothing, Ben Wooster, is also the director of a corporation referred to as Birubi Art. Last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission introduced prison complaints in opposition to Birubi for its production and sales of boomerang and different souvenir products featuring visible photos and emblems of Aboriginal artwork, all of which had been produced through artisans in Indonesia.

The Federal Court determined that through representing these works as hand painted or made by means of Aboriginal Australians, Birubi had engaged in deceptive and deceptive conduct. A listening to on the consequences and orders towards the corporation could be held this Friday, however it is already in liquidation, which can restriction the effect of any orders.

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