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November 2010

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And out went the light in the attic

It appears that a compilation album I recorded a song for is no longer going to be released. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but the label that initiated the project apparently neglected to get the appropriate permissions and such from the copyright holders. I suppose they thought it wouldn't be a big deal since it was only going to be available for free via the internet.

I've pasted the email I received from the Silverstein families lawyers.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Send word.

much love

March 23, 2009


Dear Sir or Madam:

We are the attorneys for the estate of Shel Silverstein and the Silverstein family who control Mr. Silverstein’s copyrighted works. These materials, including the work named above, are protected by U.S. federal copyright laws, by the corresponding laws of other nations and by international treaty.

It has come to our attention that you (either as an individual musician or as a musical group) are participating in a Peppermill Records project entitled “Come Sit by My Fire,” which aims to adapt many of Mr. Silverstein’s copyrighted poems and stories, including the above-mentioned work, by setting them to music and then making them available for download. Unfortunately, Peter Krahn, principal of Peppermill Records, neither sought nor obtained our clients’ permission prior to launching this project.

Our clients have not approved and do not approve this unauthorized use of their proprietary material. Therefore, we demand that you immediately cease and desist any and all uses of this material. This includes setting the text to music, as well as recording, publishing, performing or otherwise distributing or using the resulting song. You are hereby notified that our clients consider any use of your song, which makes use of their copyrighted material, to be a violation of the copyright law. Such infringement expressly includes, but is not limited to, making the song publicly available on any myspace.com or other web pages, performing the song in conjunction with other artists involved in the Peppermill Records project, or transmitting it to Peter Krahn or Peppermill Records for inclusion in this project. We note that you are also displaying the text of our clients’ poem and/or accompanying images on myspace.com or on other websites used or controlled by you. Accordingly, we demand that you cease and desist this further unlawful use of our clients’ copyrighted material.

As an artist, you would not want your own work to be used in this way by someone else without your permission. Similarly, our clients do not want Mr. Silverstein’s work used and altered by third parties; they are well within their rights to deny permission for this use. They vigorously protect their copyrighted materials and have instructed us to aggressively enforce their rights in this case.

We trust that you will immediately cease and desist any and all uses of the above-named work and that we will not need to take any further action in order to resolve this matter. Please confirm your cooperation with this request by responding to this message and placing title of the above-named work in the body of the message, along with the words “I/we confirm that I/we have ceased using the referenced work and shall refrain from recording, publishing, distributing or otherwise disseminating it in the future.”

We anticipate your full, immediate cooperation in this matter and look forward to receiving your confirmation within one week of the date of this message.



Jennifer L. Amundsen


*they* should at least welcome listening to the product- maybe they'd like it and support it.
Disappointment. Actually, I imagine that that is the surface word for much deeper discontent in it.
I'd reply with a CD of your take. To gift the relatives the awareness of inspiration. Or not. Maybe cease and desist. ??? Hard letter to receive.

I'm sorry that this has happened!

Although disappointing, the legal beagles here are in the right. Copyright is just that -- the right to copy (or modify) an existing piece of work. The Peppermill folks committed an error in not asking the current holders of the copyright on Silverstein's work for permission to do this project. Thus Peppermill and the associated artists do not have any legal right to record Silverstein's poems as songs.

Myself, I would respond as per their request, and explain that you had joined this project under the assumption that Peppermill had procured the proper legal clearance.

"Therefore, we demand that you immediately cease and desist any and all uses of this material. This includes setting the text to music, as well as recording, publishing, performing or otherwise distributing or using the resulting song."
....Including, unfortunately, sending them a copy of the song in an attempt to twang their heartstrings.
Hey there. It's Duncan. Just added you. YAY.