Call for Federal Government to buy the Aboriginal flag
Indigenous advocate and former politician Warren Mundine has called on the Federal Government to buy the copyright to the Aboriginal flag after its use was refused for the AFL Indigenous round this week.
Speaking to 2GB on Thursday, Mr Mundine said the flag should be treated like Anzac, where a copyright is in place and anyone who wants to use the term must go through the RSL and Federal Government.
"I think the Government buying it, we could resolve a whole lot of problems," he said.
The flag's copyright is held by its designer, Harold Thomas, who designed the flag in Adelaide in 1971.
He has granted licenses to Flagworld Pty Ltd for the use of the design in manufacture and marketing of the flag and to WAM Clothing for use of the design on clothing, which netted Mr Thomas $20,000 and royalties over a period of 10 years.
WAM Clothing is owned by two white people, one of whom was the owner of Birubi Art, the former clothing licence holder that was liquidated after it was found to have been misleading customers over the authenticity of the Aboriginal art it was selling.
The business has sent cease and desist letters to Aboriginal-owned clothing businesses, the AFL and NRL, and the AFL has been denied permission to use the flag in this weekend's Indigenous round, sparking outrage around the country.
An online petition calling to change the licensing agreement for the image has more than 107,000 signatures, while Indigenous musician Briggs asked his Twitter followers on Wednesday how he could go about buying the flag to ensure it could be freely used.
"I'd like to buy the Aboriginal flag from WAM Clothing," he wrote.
"I wonder what their price is? Who can help me out?"
The rapper later clarified he was looking for legal advice that could help him "go and buy this thing for us".
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, told The West Australian on Wednesday he was "disappointed" to hear the flag would not be flown during the Sir Doug Nicholls Round as it had been in previous years and suggested there was room for negotiation with Mr Thomas.
"The Australian Government is aware of the concerns around the copyright of the Aboriginal flag and would like to see a resolution to this matter in a way that respects the rights of the flag's creator while ensuring the flag continues to be a symbol of unity for Aboriginal people," he said.
Mr Mundine, who is the former head of the Indigenous Advisory Council, acknowledged Mr Thomas rightfully owned the copyright but said there was no reason a deal could not be brokered that would satisfy everyone.
"Let's approach Scott Morrison, we can have a chat with him and Ken Wyatt, say 'Let's sort this out', sit down with WAM, sit down with Harold Thomas, and everyone can walk away happy," he said.
Originally published as Call for PM to buy Aboriginal flag