The Australian government has acquired the rights to the Aboriginal Flag for a whopping A$20 million ($14.2 million U.S. dollars), making it freely available for public use.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt on Tuesday announced the government acquired the copyright for the iconic flag from its designer Harold Thomas, reports Xinhua news agency.
It means Australians can now use the flag design, which is divided horizontally into halves of black (top) and red (bottom) with a yellow circle in the centre, freely on clothing, for art, and at sporting events without seeking permission or paying a fee.
Thomas created the flag in 1971 as a protest image but it is now the dominant Aboriginal emblem and an official national flag.
Wyatt said the flag now belonged to Australians.
“The Aboriginal Flag is an enduring symbol close to the heart of Aboriginal people,” he said in a joint statement with Morrison.
“In reaching this agreement to resolve the copyright issues, all Australians can freely display and use the flag to celebrate Indigenous culture.”
The flag designer Thomas has indicated that he intends to use A$2 million to establish an Australian Aboriginal Flag Legacy not-for-profit to make periodic disbursements aligned with the interests of Aboriginal Australians and the flag.
“I am grateful that my art is appreciated by so many, and that it has come to represent something so powerful to so many,” Thomas said.
“The flag represents the timeless history of our land and our people’s time on it.”
Morrison said the flag would be managed in a similar manner to the national flag whereby it “must be presented in a respectful and dignified way”.