Canadian 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.
The land von Tiesenhausen inherited from his parents, a former family farm 50 miles west of Grande Prairie, Alberta, sits atop a natural gas hot spot known as the “deep basin.” Industry has been in aggressive growth mode in the area since Canadian Hunter Exploration (now part of Burlington Resources, soon to merge with ConocoPhillips) discovered rich geological formations in the early 1970s.
Realising that mining companies in Canada 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 claim that said that if the oil company disturbed the top six inches in any way, it would be a copyright violation.
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”.
Before turning to art, von Tiesenausen worked as a heavy-plant operator on oilfield and construction sites in Alberta and Antarctica.