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Post Malone has another go at dismissing Circles song theft claim

By | Published on Monday 7 March 2022

Post Malone

Post Malone is having another go at dismissing a legal claim made by a former collaborator who reckons he co-wrote the 2019 hit ‘Circles’. This time the rapper is arguing that the contribution made by Tyler Armes during a recording session in 2018 was not sufficiently original to be protected by copyright.

Armes – a songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and member of Canadian rap-rock outfit Down With Webster – claims that he co-wrote ‘Circles’ during an all-night jamming session with Malone and producer Frank Dukes back in August 2018.

When the track was released he contacted Malone’s manager who allegedly conceded that Armes co-wrote the track, offering him 5% of the copyright. But when Armes pushed for a better deal, his request was rejected, and the songwriter was subsequently denied both a credit on and share in the song.

In his original lawsuit, Armes sought a share of both the song and recording copyright in ‘Circles’, though the judge considering the case previously threw out the latter claim. But Malone’s previous attempt to get the litigation dismissed entirely was unsuccessful.

Malone accepts that he and Dukes did jam with Armes back in 2018. But he seeks to play down the significance of Armes’ contribution during that session, saying his fellow musician simply provided a guitar chord progression that is pretty commonplace and possibly a “fragment of a guitar melody” that he sang to the rapper.

The former wasn’t original enough to be protected by copyright, he now argues, while the latter was never ‘fixed’ – so recorded or written down – another requirement for a musical composition to be protected by copyright.

According to Rolling Stone, a new legal filing cites a deposition given by Armes, and says that Malone’s former collaborator “admitted that his contributions did not … rise to the level of originality, which is also required in addition to the fixation requirement”.

“He either conceded that his ideas were commonplace musical devices or failed to meet his burden to demonstrate any originality otherwise”, it goes on. “Armes thus cannot even establish the threshold requirement that he made a copyrightable contribution”.

Malone adds that neither he nor Dukes ever intended for Armes to be a co-author of the song they were working on, and always had the discretion to accept or reject his suggestions.

Needless to say, Armes’ legal reps are not impressed with the latest motion for dismissal. “We believe that the motion for summary judgment is a desperate attempt by Post Malone and Frank Dukes to try to avoid a trial in this action”, they told Rolling Stone. “We are confident that we will prevail in defeating the motion and look forward to going before a jury”.