LAWYERS may see increased litigation as the Department of Veterans Affairs gets heavy on the misuse of the word ‘Anzac’.
Despite the strict legislative protection of the commercial use of the word, which has existed since 1921, the Department of Veterans Affairs says that the regulations have never been enforced.
But since the April long weekend, debate over the term Anzac has surfaced in Tiger Airways “Anzac Day Sale”. As Crikey reported, the airline “launched a blatant Anzac Day rip off … leaving itself open to prosecution under the Crimes Act and by the ACCC”.
Bu the department is not stopping there, and has since also questioned iTunes Australia for a possible breach of the regulations in its “50 Anzac Songs” list, which has now been removed by Apple.
“The Minister takes the unauthorised commercial use of the word Anzac very seriously. The Department of Veterans' Affairs is writing to Tiger Airlines and iTunes Australia advising them of the regulations and the need for approval to use the word Anzac,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is likely both uses of the word would not have been approved. The protection of the Word Anzac Regulations, made by the department under the War Precautions Act Repeal Act 1920, explain the few circumstances in which the word’s use is allowed.
“No person shall, without the authority of the Minister, proof whereof shall lie upon the person accused, assume or use the word ‘Anzac’ or any word resembling the word ‘Anzac’ in connection with any trade, business, calling or profession,” the regulations read.
Approval will usually be granted where the word ‘Anzac’ is being used to name a street that is in the vicinity of a public war memorial, and in the naming ‘Anzac biscuits’ or ‘Anzac slice’, but only when the product confirms to the original recipe. ‘Anzac cookies’, on the other hand, are considered to have ‘non-Australian overtones’ and would not be approved by the department.
Despite this level of detail, the Department of Veterans Affairs said there is “no record of any legal action being taken in relation to non-compliance with the Regulations”.
Public response to the iTunes Australia “50 Anzac Songs” list, which included My People by The Presets, Scar by Missy Higgins and Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes, has been very negative. An online forum has housed a string of complaints from iTunes users:
“I can't fathom how The Presets commemorate the Anzacs, its if the only requirement was that it was Aussie or NZ … I think its abhorrent,” [sic] said matthewk.
Another comment, posted by incanspyder, said: “Using a national day of remembrance and mourning to sell $2 products is frankly disgusting.”
It was also suggested that if the proceeds were charitable, the commercial use of the word ‘Anzac’ might be justified.
“They should be giving the proceeds of sales of those songs to the RSL,” said oneplusone.
But Phase was quick to respond: “I'm sure the pokie revenue does them just fine.”