A Toronto lawyer has come up with a different interpretation in the story of Peter von Tiesenhausen, the Demmitt, Alberta farmer who kept a ConocoPhillips pipeline off his property by covering the land with works of art.
While the art is protected by copyright, Monica Goyal says that’s not the strongest part of the argument.
Von Tiesenhausen’s farm doubles as an art gallery, with sculptures and installation pieces that are purpose-built for the landscape. “He makes the point that an energy company digging up a section of field would be more damaging to him than an ordinary farmer, because instead of just losing the ability to work a section of his farm, the disruption could ruin the aesthetic that a number of his artistic works are based in,” Goyal writes.
“Is that argument likely to hold up in court? Debatable,” she says. But von Tiesenhausen is “willing to put up a rather large and expensive legal fight that would cost the companies both money and public image. Energy companies aren’t exactly the public’s favourite right now, so the companies have decided not to push the issue and risk this story gaining ground.”