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‘We thought the flag belonged to the people’: Calls for government to buy Aboriginal flag copyright

Indigenous Australians are calling on the Australian government to buy the copyright licence for the Aboriginal flag.

Luritja artist Harold Thomas designed the flag in 1971 and holds the copyright for the design, but has done licencing deals with a number of companies.

Not-for-profit group Spark Health was recently sent a cease and desist notice after making products with the flag on them to raise funds for health programs for Aboriginal Victorians.

“We had three days to sell all of our stock,” Spark Health managing director Laura Thompson said.

“The community got right behind us and bought us out.”

After receiving the notice, Spark Health started a petition calling on the Australian government to acquire the flag through legislation, via the High Court, or by purchasing the copyright.

The petition has been signed by over 74,000 people.

Ms Thompson, an Aboriginal woman, said she is personally upset that the flag can’t be used freely.

“Why is our flag the only copyrighted flag in the world?,” she said.

“The flag represents a struggle and now it just feels like a struggle to use it.

“We thought the flag belonged to the people and now we’re supposed to pledge our allegiance to a piece of private property.”

Spark Health has started a petition calling on the Australian government to acquire the flag through legislation, via the High Court or by purchasing the copyright.

“I think that would be the best outcome,” Ms Thompson said.

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