Did Bieber's Iceland Video Rip Off An Indie Skate Film? Judge For Yourself... - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Did Bieber’s Iceland Video Rip Off An Indie Skate Film? Judge For Yourself…

Published November 17, 2015

Photos by
Justin Bieber's YouTube

You may remember recently that Justin Bieber (referred to as “The Bieb” or “His Biebness” henceforth) was in Iceland recently filming a music video, in which he cavorts and galavants around various local spots of natural beauty. This, of course, sent the local media into a frenzy.

But now, there’s a new chapter in the story. When independent filmmaker Gersin Livia Paya came across His Biebness’s video, she got a sudden sense of deja vú, and posted the graphic you see below on social media, catching the attention of Noisey and Vice.

justin vs gersin

Because earlier in 2015, Gersin had shot a film of her own in Iceland — a skate odyssey called ‘Í Kring’ (“Around”, in English), in which she travelled the country’s ring road with skater Adam Lee Casey, skating, surfing and cavorting in many of the exact same spots.

We caught up with Gersin and asked her to tell us the story. So, in her own words, here it is.

Gersin Livia Paya: I first came across the Justin Bieber video because I’m following all kinds of saving-nature streams of Iceland media. I was reading that Justin was dancing in natural preserved moss and walked on tracks where people shouldn’t go, so as to not harm the nature. But while reading these articles, I also saw a photo where he was skating on the wrecked plane on Solheimasandur.

So, I wanted to see the music video they were talking about. But in Germany you can’t see Vevo or Youtube clips, due to GEMA rights. So I went to Instagram and found some clips. And then I saw one image, the way it was taken… the location, and framing… it felt very close to ‘Í Kring’.

But then, of course, I also thought ‘Well thats the internet, and the world of art.’ In the age of internet, people get lazy with ideas and aren’t afraid to copy something they’ve seen. You can see that within the spread of visual styles, trends and vibes — they come in waves. And, I think there are no true unique ideas, and never really have been — at least, that’s what I’ve learned about history. You know, the invention of photography also took place in two different places at the same time, I think, and that was at a time when mail still travelled on ships and people were still riding horses. So, taking all that into account, when I think realistically…

í kring gersin paya

But then, I was just thinking about it and talking to friends and colleagues. And they all said: ‘Your instincts are right, this is stolen.’

That’s when I heard the rumours that some Icelanders had sold some ideas to Justin’s production crew. And some Icelanders know my film. So it’s hard to say.

In the end I do feel flattered if it was copied… but also, of course, a bit betrayed, due to copyright of ideas. My partner in making ‘Í Kring’ says he thinks it’s an infringement of storyboard copyrights… and, I don’t like the disrespect he showed to nature in one shot. But then I’m not a lawyer or a natural biologist, so ultimately it’s not for me to judge. I guess people can judge for themselves.

What do you reckon, readers? Too similar to be just chance? Or a matter of eerie creative synchronicity? Let us know what you think in the comments.

If you like the look of ‘Í Kring’, it’s planned for DVD release later in 2016, and you can pre-order it direct by emailing ikringskatefilm@gmail.com.

[Note: after publishing this story it came to our attention that two other filmmakers have made similar claims (Icelandic language news story here). Although the shots mentioned in this piece are more generic than the ‘Í Kring’ shots, we felt it worth noting here.]

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!

Go travel with Grapevine tried and recommended tours by Grapevine. Fund Grapevine journalism by booking with us.


Show Me More!