Thanks to MP Liz May’s article, I have learned that Bill C-51, Harper’s anti-terrorism law, carves out a thin exception of protection for “artistic expression.” So just like the Alberta artist, Peter von Tiesenhausen, who turned his entire property into a “work of art” and thereby kept the Oil & Gas companies off his land, we can also turn our pipeline protests into art, as theatre, sculpture, drawings, music, as installation and performance art. It’s time for defenders of the land to become artists, to create art that will stop a pipeline. Once again, art will save the world.
Alberta artist, Peter von Tiesenhausen, has effectively stopped oil corporations from putting a pipeline through his 800 acre property by covering it with artwork and copyrighting the top six inches of his land as an artwork.
Realizing that mining companies can legitimately lay claim to any land underneath private property to a depth of six inches, van Tiesenhausen contacted a lawyer who drew up an intellectual property/copyright claim that said that if the oil company disturbed the top six inches in any way, it would be a copyright violation.
~ Terry Dawes, Cantech Letter
The oil corporations had been eager to get their pipeline through his land to get “their” natural gas.
The spread von Tiesenhausen inherited from his parents, a former family farm 80 kilometres west of Grande Prairie, sits atop a natural gas hot spot known as the “deep basin.” Industry has been in aggressive growth mode in the area since Calgarian Jim Gray’s Canadian Hunter Exploration (now part of Burlington Resources, soon to merge with ConocoPhillips) discovered rich geological formations in the early 1970s.
~ The Edmonton Journal, Canada.com
Von Tiesenausen decided to talk to them in their own language: Money. The copyright claim makes his entire property a work of art since he has covered it with visual art scupltures including “a 33-metre-long ship sculpted with willow stalks, winter ice forms, nest-like structures in trees, statuesque towers and a “lifeline” or visual autobiography composed as a white picket fence built in annual sections left to weather naturally”.The copyright also drastically increases the remuneration of around $200 for lost crops to around $600,000 for an ” artistic property disturbance”.Dealing with the oil tycoons as a business man, he has also been able to cut down on their harassing phone calls and visits.
Taking a page from the books of business consultants, he demands $500 an hour from companies that want to take up his time talking to him about his land. “I demand $500 an hour. They pay. It keeps the meetings really short and they don’t do it nearly as often as they used to,” the artist said.”I meet presidents of oil companies. I show them I’m a guy trying to make a go of something that’s honest and valid. It’s what they understand.”
~ The Edmonton Journal, Canada.com
Update:Linsea has discovered a 2010 article about this artist and it appears that he is still standing strong:
I just found this article from 2010 which seems to indicate his strategy was still working then.http://this.org/….
In 2003, he presented his copyright argument before the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, which told him that copyright law was beyond its jurisdiction and he would need to pursue that in the courts. So far that hasn’t been necessary. The oil and gas companies have since backed off, even paying for an expensive rerouting of pipelines, and have yet to bother testing his copyright.