Flag May Become Commodity - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Flag May Become Commodity

Published November 15, 2010

A bill newly submitted to parliament would change Iceland’s flag laws in such a way that the flag would lose its protected legal status and could be used to adorn any number of products for public consumption.
Despite what you might think walking into any given tourist shop, there are actually very strict laws regarding the Icelandic flag. For example, it may not be used as product branding, packaging or advertising without express permission from the prime minister’s office.
While some products manage to get approved for using the flag, no one has yet received permission to emblazon the flag on underwear, umbrellas, scarves or socks. RÚV reports that it is not known if anyone has ever been charged for illegal use of the flag.
A new bill submitted to parliament would allow anyone to use the Icelandic flag for the purpose of sales, design or marketing, without permission from the prime minister’s office, so long as it is done “tastefully”. There is as yet no word on how “tastefully” is defined, but we imagine this would mean an end to plastic horned Viking helmets bearing the flag on them.
Icelandic flag laws are also very specific with regards to when the flag may be raised and lowered, although a recent parliamentary proposal from Progressive MP Siv Friðleifsdóttir sought to expand the times that a flag may be flown. There are also detailed laws on how a flag is sewn. Nearly all of Iceland’s flags are manufactured at the flag sewing factory in Hofsós, of which you can take a video tour.


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