Monday, August 26, 2019

Holding a flag hostage

The copyright of the Aboriginal flag belongs to a private company.

The flag’s designer, Harold Thomas gave a worldwide exclusive licence to a non-Indigenous owned company called Wam Clothing, which has been actively enforcing its copyright since the agreement was announced in November last year. Wam Clothing is part-owned by the Queensland businessman Ben Wooster, who was the sole owner of Birubi Art, a now-defunct company fined a record $2.3m in June for breaching consumer law by selling thousands of Indonesian-made items as Aboriginal art.

A Queensland Indigenous health charity has had to pay $2,200 to use the Aboriginal flag on the shirts it gives away to patients.

“This is not right. We’re not the AFL, we are an Indigenous health charity,” IWC spokesperson Janette Young said. He estimates that 80.6% of IWC’s clients are “disadvantaged or extremely disadvantaged. There are high rates of chronic disease. We have a high-needs community, and we’re just trying to get some early intervention. It’s very, very disappointing. What we’re looking for is for this to be sorted out."
“The flag is one of our national symbols and a central part of Aboriginal and Australian identity. The flag should be about people and pride, not profit.”

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