who OWNS the image of a flag??

General discussions on flags and vexillology.
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who OWNS the image of a flag??

Postby brunonua » 20 Mar 2016 14:59

Dear fellow-flagsters,

I am an artist who intends to use national flags in an artwork that will be mass-produced and sold to the general public.

Decided to go str8 to the experts with these two important questions [for me at least]:

1. If i as an artist use or reproduce or profit from the image of a nation's flag, am i breaking any laws or copyrights? [plus, does the answer vary from country to country?]

2. Is there a difference in law whether i simply reproduce a flag or alter it in some way?

Many thanks,

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Re: who OWNS the image of a flag??

Postby ododobe » 21 Mar 2016 07:55

That's a damn good question. I guess if it is a company flag it is obvious but with a national flag I guess it is not so clear.
Looking into the legal side here in New Zealand I have found this:

Individuals and organisations may use the New Zealand Flag in advertising. Letters or designs should not be added to the Flag unless they are clearly separate to the Flag design. If you want to use the New Zealand Flag in advertisements or for commercial purposes, contact us to discuss your ideas.

from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

The full legislation is here.

Sounds like it is ok for photos but other forms may need consultation.
Although I spent a bit of time as a screenprinter and did lots of work for a tourist t-shirt company and have printed thousands of flags on t-shirts in my time. I am not sure whether they would have needed permission to use the flag. I guess it all comes down to the use.

Not sure how other countries roll.

Good luck.
Nathan Stevens
Amatuer Vexillologist / Professional Graphic Designer
New Zealand

Flag Explanation:Red, Black, White stripes on the hoist represent Tino Rangatiratanga, Maori Heritage, the Black and White on the fly represent Cornish ancestry.

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Re: who OWNS the image of a flag??

Postby Meiriongwril » 21 Mar 2016 15:20

Some countries do have legislation about altering or adding things to flags. It would appear to me that you'll just have to trawl thru all the online information you can find about the flags you intend to use....

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