Copyright protections trump oil pipeline

Cantech News explains an Alberta land-owner’s ingenious use of copyright law:

Alberta artist Peter van Tiesenhausen has provided an interesting legal precedent in his long-running battle with oil companies seeking to run a pipeline through his 800 acre territory. He has copyrighted his land as a work of art.

Typically, industry can negotiate a land acquisition agreement with a property owner and then claim right-of-way to run a pipeline across whatever properties stand in the way of getting its product to market. …

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.

“The oil company wanted to come across with a pipeline,” said van Tiesenhausen. “And I said: No! And they said that I don’t have any choice because we own the top six inches and they own everything else underneath, the mineral rights, etc. That’s the way it works in Canada. And I said: you can put your pipeline as long as you don’t disturb the surface. Of course, it’s pretty much impossible or very expensive. But it’s not a field or just a forest, it is an artwork! And they realized that I have a case. So for last 15 years they have left me alone.”

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