Australia’s leading independent law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has advised Aboriginal man and distinguished artist, Harold Thomas, the owner of the copyright in the Australian Aboriginal Flag, on the deal to assign copyright in the Flag to the Commonwealth.

The deal between Mr Thomas and the Commonwealth means the Commonwealth now owns copyright in the Aboriginal Flag. The deal was announced by the Prime Minister on 25 January 2022 and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Flag’s creation and its raising at the Tent Embassy in Canberra. 

At the essence of the deal was an acknowledgement by Mr Thomas and the Commonwealth of the Indigenous communities at the heart of the Flag’s accrued national and unparalleled significance. 

Corrs also worked with Mr Thomas to mint a non-fungible token (NFT) of the work. Mr Thomas will retain the NFT and his moral rights in the Flag. The Flag has also been commemorated with a special edition coin bearing its image.

The Corrs team acted pro bono, led by Kate Hay and Chrystal Dare and supported by experts across its Intellectual Property, Tax, Corporate and Projects practices including Arvind Dixit, Grant Fisher, Jonathan Farrer, Jared Heath, Rhys Jewell, Michael Carroll, Jonathan Lim, Grace Borg, Jaimie Chapman, Melissa Chuong and Stephanie Johnson. 

Corrs’ Head of Intellectual Property Kate Hay said: “It has been a privilege to work with Mr Thomas on a matter of such national significance. The deal secured for Mr Thomas is monumental and is testament to the Corrs team who came together to make a real difference.”

Commenting on the copyright assignment to the Commonwealth, Harold Thomas said: “The Flag represents the timeless history of our land and our people’s time on it. It carries the message that there is a uniting symbol and voice for all Indigenous people, and I hope that this arrangement allows the Aboriginal Flag to breathe a new life in itself.”

Harold Thomas signing the momentous agreement