An Artist Discovers a New Use for Copyright Law

by Christina Rees September 3, 2014

DrillingRigTexas artists who own any land in the state might be interested to know how a Canadian artist has handled the pesky oil, natural gas, and pipeline companies that want to enter or tap his property. Peter von Tiesenhausen, of Alberta “…has kept wells, compressors and pipelines off his three square kilometres of fields and trees — a notable feat for his location…” by invoking laws around artistic copyright protections. He has indeed copyrighted his spread.

His action may or may not in the long term stave off a Canadian version of eminent domain, but for now, according to the Edmonton Journal, “His legal move vastly increased the amount of compensation he is potentially entitled to demand from any oil or pipeline company wanting access to his place, because changing his property would be copyright infringement.” Any company imposing new infrastructure in or on his land would mean artistic property disturbance.

It seems to be a language the oil corporations understand, and Von Tiesenhausen can charge the presidents of major oil companies—who are now his visitors—$500 an hour just to speak to him, and they have to pay.

Kudos to Von Tiesenhausen for his creative use of peaceful (and lucrative) resistance to a certain kind of development. For more on the story, go here.

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Cynthia Mulcahy September 3, 2014 - 19:12



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