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Billy Joel sued for allegedly stealing house designs

By | Published on Thursday 23 April 2020

Billy Joel

Hey, Billy Joel is caught up in a complicated copyright lawsuit! What fun! But what could have happened? Did he steal someone’s song? Did he have a song stolen by some pesky upstart pop star? Did he use some artwork on an album cover without permission? I bet some joker hip hop act has tried to sample his music without permission!

No, none of these. This lawsuit, actually, has nothing to do with his music. He’s accused of stealing designs for renovations he’s currently having done on his house.

Berry Hill Development says that Joel and his wife Alexis fired the company from a home renovation project at a property in Long Island. But then the company hired as a replacement, NJ Caine Architecture and its owner Neal Stufano, submitted new plans for the renovation work that were nearly identical to those Berry Hill had originally put together for the project.

“The Stufano main house plans are nearly identical to the plans, drawings, internal layout, massing and overall look of the works and plans provided by Berry Hill for and in connection with the project”, claims Berry Hill’s lawsuit, according to Law360. “The defendants continue upon the site renovations of the premises utilising the works and plans owned by Berry Hill, without Berry Hill’s approval, licence or permission to do so”.

Berry Hill also says it was fired from the Joels’ property renovation project over spurious structural issues, arguing that it was not given time to access and correct any such issues – despite a clause in its contract allowing for this. It also claims that the report used as a reason for its dismissal was dated nine days after it was actually fired.

And as for the IP dispute, Berry Hill says that, after being fired in November last year, it formally told the local buildings inspector and the company through which the Joels own their home, F Scott, that they no longer had permission to use its designs.

After this, however, those new designs were submitted that allegedly infringe its original work. Berry Hill says it then sent a cease-and-desist letter in March, which has gone unanswered, hence the need to launch full-scale legal action.

Berry Hill is seeking court confirmation that its designs have been infringed as well as damages for the infringement. Neither the Joels, nor any of the other listed defendants, have as yet commented. Maybe Berry Hill could just use one of Joel’s songs in an advert without permission. Vigilante justice of the copyright infringement kind!