Two years ago in 2020, I became a victim of copyright theft again, but this time it was not in the usual way, it was by my own mob.
It was a sad day for me as I watched my favourite sport, Supercars. It was the Darwin round where the sport showcased its Indigenous connection to the round. I have always dreamed of having my artwork on a Supercar, but this seems like a long shot now, even impossible due to what has been happening. The year before this round, my artwork was also stolen and put on Chaz Mostert’s helmet in 2019.
During the race, which was on pay TV, something I don’t have, I had to wait for the highlights and see the outcome on the news. As many of my friends had pay TV, I started to receive messages saying how great it was to see my artwork on the Supercars trophy. Bewildered, I thought, “What are you talking about?” So I had to wait to see the highlights or the news. To my dismay, during the news, I saw the trophy, and yes, that was my Crocodile artwork that I did years ago. I was shocked and saddened to see my artwork stolen yet again, two years in a row.
So, I jumped online and did some research, finding out that an artist named Jason Lee from Bidjpidji Art (Larrakia Nation) not only misled NT Promotions but also Supercars into thinking he created the artwork.
Mr Lee replied to my email stating: “Your artwork of the Crocodile was first brought to my attention by my brother after I had finished my piece of the Crocodile and had submitted it to the Supercars to use on the championship trophy. After being made aware, I immediately made comparisons of the two pieces of artwork which I found that although they are not identical, I may have reproduced parts of your artwork.”
He then went on to say: “Once I realised the similarities, I contacted the organisers of the event to notify them of the potential copyright and requested them to immediately cease use of the trophy and to remove all advertising or social media content relating to the trophy. The organisers were nothing but happy to support my request as they too did not want to offend copyright rights, so they immediately ceased use of the trophy and removed all related content from all social media platforms.”
However, to this day, no advertising or social media content has been removed, and he will not apologise to NT Promotions or Supercars publicly. After two years, he will only offer a percentage of the commission fee as retribution for the breach of copyright.
I am not saying that I am perfect either, but if I make a mistake, I own it and do what I need to fix it. I have been fighting for Aboriginal artists’ rights for a long time now, and these days it’s very tiresome to fight copyright theft of my artwork online and the increase in Aboriginal artists stealing my work.
With the case in 2019 with the helmet (which was sorted in the best way), and now this, I feel my name has been dragged through the mud, and my future of ever having my artwork legitimately on a Supercar is over. I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, but you never know.
As of today and in the years to come, I will continue to fight for not only my rights as an Indigenous artist but also for others. I will support ArtLaws and try to stop the theft not only of my artwork but also my friend’s artwork. I would like to thank the legal firm (Holding Redlich) that helped me in this case and settled out of court, something I now have to do to protect my artwork.
Please don’t copy people’s artwork, get inspired but keep to your own stories and talents. Learn your culture from your Elders or Community and just don’t take whatever you want, they are other people’s stories.