From Iceland — Copyright Dispute Over "Let It Out" Campaign

Copyright Dispute Over “Let It Out” Campaign

Published July 21, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Promote Iceland

British artist Marcus Lyall has accused Íslandsstofa (Promote Iceland) of copyright infringement, saying their new tourist marketing campaign is derived from one of his installation pieces.

The “Let It Out” campaign, which started about a week ago, was designed to allow people from all over the world to record stress-relieving screams on their phone or computer and upload them to the Looks-like-you-need-Iceland website. The screams are then played over one of seven speaker boxes that are each placed in remote locations in Iceland. Accoring to Íslandsstofa, the campaign draws inspiration from psychological theories about the stress-relieving affects of screaming (a contention that is a matter of heated dispute) and wants to offer people – read: potential tourists – an outlet ‘in these trying times’.

The campaign has already caused some controversy in Iceland according to reports from Vísir, and now the artist from the British Isles has sent a letter to Íslandsstofa stating that the “Let It Out” marketing campaign is based on his intellectual work, the exhibition “Scream the House Down”, an installation that has been going on in London since June 16th.

According to illumni, Lyall’s installation invites you “to vocalise your inner frustrations and power a large-scale light installation.” Over a joined zoom call you can then “watch your outburst illuminate a four storey office building.”

Vísir reports that Lyall’s letter states that although the purpose of these two projects is somewhat different, it goes without saying that the basic idea is exactly the same. The project involves inviting people to shout at a device, smartphone or laptop and the sound is then emitted from a remote area. The tasks are to release tension and feelings of powerlessness.

In a statement Íslandsstofa responded to the letter saying that the tender for the marketing project was submitted on April 30th and that the idea was pitched to them by another party.

“Íslandsstofa received a presentation of the project Looks Like you Need Iceland from MC Saatchi and the advertising agency Peel as part of that tender on 6 May,” the statement reads. “Part of that proposal was the Let it Out campaign, which involved making an app that would give people the opportunity to release stress by screaming into the app and getting a video of the scream played in Iceland. MC Saatchi and Peel already presented a workable demo of the website used today, so it is clear that the idea had been worked on for some time before it was presented to Íslandsstofa.”

They go on to acknowledge that the projects have similarities but argue that the timeline doesn’t add up. In the end they refer to to the advertising agencies MC Saatchi and Peel for further inquiries.

Marcus Lyall told Vísir that he has worked for M&C Saatshi in the past and that he thinks that this alleged copyright theft greatly damages their ability to sell their work. In his letter, he explains that he would like to draw the attention of Íslandsstofa to this before he goes any further with the matter. “Then I would like to ask how it is that you are paying M&C Saatchi for the work of others?”

Vísir goes on to report that they sent an inquiry to Íslandsstofa regarding the case. The director of tourism, Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, is reported to have said that the letter was received on Friday evening and has not been reviewed yet, as many employees of Íslandsstofa are currently on summer vacation. But according to Sigríður Dögg, Íslandsstofa needs to give itself time to get to know the matter better before responding.

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