Note regarding performances and recordings of “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”

If you purchased sheet music to my work I Never Saw Another Butterfly and it includes a notice about a “performance license” required from “Empire Publishing”—please ignore the notice. Similarly, if you receive any demands for “license fees” from Empire Publishing in connection with the distribution of recordings or streamed performances of the work, please let me know and I will intercede. This organization has been claiming rights to the work which it does not have and has been making inappropriate demands on performers and recording labels.

Arsis Press and Empire Publishing:

In 1998, I signed a 4 sentence agreement with my friend Clara Lyle Boone, giving her the right to publish and sell a print version of my work I Never Saw Another Butterfly (under the “Arsis Press” label). Unlike many “publishing agreements”, this one did not transfer all rights to the work but simply outlined the economic split relating to the sale of the printed music and gave Clara the right to share in other royalties from the work. It did not give Clara/Arsis the right to control performances or recordings of the work; as the author of the work, I retained all such rights.

About three years ago, I was informed that Empire Publishing had “succeeded” to the rights of Clara/Arsis under the contract. Neither Empire nor Clara (who recently passed) has ever shown me a document relating to this, and my view is that the contract should not even be assignable. Nevertheless, Empire has been aggressive in making “demands” on performers and those who have recorded the work. It has distributed the printed music with a “notice” (which I have sought many times to remove) that anyone seeking to perform the work requires a “license” from Empire. This is a particularly ludicrous claim, given that the work is registered with BMI. Empire has also contacted some persons who have recorded the work, making equally dubious claims (for example, that online streaming of the recording is prohibited without Empire’s authorization).

At this point, I have had enough of Empire’s inappropriate behavior. My representative has sent a detailed letter to Empire outlining my legal position and insisting that Empire discontinue these activities. I intend to be vigilant about future violations and would appreciate a heads up if you are contacted by Empire with any demands. In particular, I want to ensure that Empire does not inhibit perfectly legitimate performances and recordings of the work — this is my “baby” after all, and I want it to be heard. For the most part, you are free, without authorization from anyone, to perform the work in a BMI-licensed venue (or to individually report the performance to BMI), and to record the work using the statutory “mechanical license” provisions of U.S. copyright law. However, if you require an authorization relating to the work, please contact me and I will be happy to provide it on reasonable terms.