Google Prevented From Using Australian Aboriginal Flag Because It's Covered By Copyright

from the who-copyrights-a-flag? dept

A whole bunch of folks have been sending in the news of Google needing to edit out the Aboriginal flag that was originally a part of an Australia Day Google logo. Google had apparently run a contest for a logo and an 11-year-old girl had won, after designing the logo, using various animals native to Australia, with the Aboriginal flag behind one of the "O"s. But when the logo went up on the site, it was missing the flag:
It wasn't a case of Google being insensitive. It was a case of Google being forced to remove it because, believe it or not, the Australian Aboriginal flag is covered by copyright, and the copyright holder wouldn't let Google use it because the company had asked if it could use it for free. It's hard to fathom why anyone would ever want a flag covered by copyright (do we need more incentives to create new flags?). The report notes that the artist "designed the flag as a symbol of unity and national identity" in the 1970s, but apparently that unity and identity doesn't extend to anyone else actually displaying the flag without paying for it.

Filed Under: aboriginal, australia, copyright, flags
Companies: google


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  1. icon
    jendelui (profile), 2 Feb 2010 @ 1:23am

    @R.Hammond: I believe the correct term is 'bastards' not 'bitches', as this is Australia we're talking about ;)

    Its really no surprise at all, that so many people (even commenters) could be confused about needing to protect and defend their intellectual property in this day and age of moral panics and the copyright wars.

    (But it was the copyright owner, not the 11yo girl who stopped the showing. The piece is lovely and well designed, it could still be a hand drawn composite, and I'm not saying it is or isn't, but the figures do look clip-art-ish enough that it strikes me as an example of a kind of artwork that touches the issues and launches interesting debates and discussions akin to the Obama Hope poster - but, in this case they were able to go ahead with a like image sans the disputed part.)

    The flag has become our symbol, and it represents all the indigenous nations and tribes of the islands of Australia. It is ubiquitous in Australia now, but it certainly has not always been the case (props @monkeytypist).

    IMHO it does seem an opportunity was lost, but there is always a story behind the story, (@Don: and in that regard I'd guess you're right. Its could be a case of Google stepping into a sort of feud, methinks). Maybe if copyright holder read more of Mike's articles on economics they can work out for themselves that the exposure due to Google's use could have been a useful non-scarce good to add value to the scarce goods (whatever they might be, e.g. endorsements/ marketing/ advertising deals, speaking engagements, educational flag kits for schools, who knows?) at their disposal. Maybe they could make up the money they 'lost' from this copyright deal in other ways by saying yes to Google?, there's always next year!

    But seriously, thats totally the decision of the copyright owner, and it represents struggle. It became the symbol of indiginous rights and was made the "official" Aboriginal flag by the government, so there has been struggle as well in the story of the flag. Recently in Tasmania, after long struggle trying to get the flag accepted in the Parliament, they finally displayed the flag in Parliament. The way it was done was the way it was always done in White Australia, regarding 'the blacks' - to them, not with them.

    peace

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