Canberra: The Australian government on Tuesday bought the Aboriginal flag’s copyright for more than $20 million to “free” the symbol of identity.
The flag was created in 1971 by indigenous artist Harold Thomas as a protest image.
According to BBC, many Aboriginal people say the flag has been “held hostage” by copyright deals that limit its display.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said, “Over the last 50 years we made Harold Thomas’ artwork our own – we marched under the Aboriginal flag, stood behind it, and flew it high as a point of pride. Now that the Commonwealth holds the copyright, it belongs to everyone, and no-one can take it away.”
On the eve of Australia Day, the government paid over $20 million to secure the copyright from Thomas and terminate lease agreements. According to BBC, this decision followed pressure from Aboriginal groups and controversies in sports such as the Australian Football League (AFL), which began refusing to pay leaseholders to display the flag.