On 22 September 2020, the Australian Copyright Council (ACC) CEO, Eileen Camilleri, was invited to appear at the Select Senate Committee’s Inquiry into the Aboriginal Flag.

The ACCsubmission, which can be viewed hereemphasisethe importance that, Luritja artist and copyright ownerMr.Harold Thomas retain copyright and say in the landscape in which the flag continues to be used.

 

The Committee, chaired by NT Labor senator and Yanyuwa womanMalarndirri McCarthy, is focusing on the current and former copyright and licensing arrangements and the options the Government has to "enable the flag to be freely used by the Australian community".

 

They will be considering the effect of the current arrangements on Indigenous organisations and communities, who is currently benefitting from the payment for its use and other ways to protect Thomas’rights.

 

Mr Thomas granted the non-Indigenous Australian owned company, WAM clothing, the exclusive rights to license the Aboriginal flag on clothing and physical and digital media, in November 2018.

 

WAM Clothing have issued infringement notices to many companies including the AFL, NRL and a number of nonprofit Indigenous Australian organisations for their past use of the flag’s design.

 

WAM Clothing’s company directors, Semele Moore and Benjamin Wooster appeared before the Committee on 14 September 2020

 

Their appearance was the first time a representative from the company has spoken publicly about its arrangements with Mr. Thomas. 

 

In recent months, a social media campaign named #Free the Flag was started by Laura Thompson, Gunditjmara woman

 

Thompson is the managing director of Spark Health, an Indigenous-owned and run social enterprise making merchandise with the tagline Clothing the GapIt was one of the organisations served with a cease and desist notice in 2018.

 

The ‘Free the Flag’ petition now has more than 140,000 signatures, and every team in the AFL has signed on.

 

The Committee is due to report to Parliament on 13 October 2020.