Long Island couple sues over copyrighted mansion design

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Just how much are your dreams worth? If they manifest themselves in the form of a mansion, quite a bit, it would seem. After a neighbor copied the design of one Long Island couple’s dream home in the Nassau County village of Lawrence, Seth and Rivka Fortgang filed a lawsuit to protect their design. The house itself is valued at $1.48 million, and Rivka Fortgang copyrighted the architectural plans (because apparently, she knew something like this would happen).

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Long Island Federal Court, the neighbors actually requested the copyrighted plans from the Village of Lawrence Building Department. After hearing of this development and noticing the construction of an eerily similar house taking form in nearby Cedarhurst, the Fortgangs reached out to their lawyers.

But the neighbors, Daniella and Ari Schwartz, insist they are doing nothing wrong. Their lawyer, Daniel Schloss, has noted in court documents that there is nothing so unique about the Fortgangs’ home that it would be protected by the Copyright Act.

“We note that the exterior façade of the Fortgang residence consists of several windows, rather generic gables, and entry way doors,” Schloss said. “However in the interests of professional courtesy, our clients have agreed to temporarily postpone construction of the present design … pending certain changes and amendments to its exterior façade elements,” he added.

But if you think the story ends there, think again. According to the lawsuit, Rivka Fortgang, an exterior and interior designer in her own right, has suffered “substantial damage to her reputation and her business in the upscale Five Towns community as a result of the copying,” the New York Daily News reports.

Neither the Fortgangs nor their lawyers have responded to requests for comment.

So watch out, prospective home builders. If you’re not a proponent of the notion that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you may want to look into copyrighting your own designs sometime soon.


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