Songwriter’s Claim of Joint Authorship with Post Malone on “Circles” Proceeding to Trial in March 2023

Via: Lorne Thomson/Redferns

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is set to try a fascinating case regarding joint authorship of a hit recording by Post Malone called “Circles,” where the court already determined in April 2022 that the plaintiff claimant was not a co-author of the actual master recording released to the public. However, the question of whether the plaintiff is still entitled to recover continues to be battled out.

In 2018, Austin Post, professionally known as “Post Malone,” released the hit song “Circles,” which rose to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Charts. In 2020, songwriter Tyler Armes filed a lawsuit against Malone claiming he is a joint author of the hit song, and that he was never given credit or paid royalties. 

Armes claimed to have contributed to the songwriting for the hit song “Circles” in a jam session on August 8, 2018. He also alleged that Malone’s manager, Dre London, initiated contact and pursued Armes as a client. 

On August 17, 2022, Post Malone filed an emergency motion with the court seeking “discovery sanctions” or alternatively a “terminating sanction” against Armes for allegedly concealing certain text messages. Additionally, Post Malone sought a trial continuance to December 2022.

In his emergency motion, Post Malone argued that the recently revealed texts portrayed Armes “desperately” trying to meet up with London and Malone at a concert. The texts from August 6 and 7, 2018, show Armes attempting to meet up with London and stated that he had a bunch of girls with him after the show. The defendants contended that the texts are a far cry from London seeking to sign Armes as a client. Also, there is no mention of any recording session, even though it allegedly occurred two days later. Then, within a month following the purported August 8, 2018, jam session, Armes again solicited involvement with London and again did not mention the jam session. 

Finally, in texts dated August 2019 (one year later), Armes requested some credit and payment for his contribution to “Circles.” However, the texts produced by Armes in the case omitted a key text from London where London stated that he was unaware of Armes’s involvement in “Circles” and that the situation “sounds weird.”

Previously, in April 2022, the court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment in part. A motion for summary judgment is a tactical procedure available to parties to have the parties lay down their cards so to speak, and let the court decide whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. The order determined that Armes was not a co-author of the actual commercially released version of “Circles” but found there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the extent of his contribution to the creation of the composition upon which the master recording was based. 

On August 24, 2022, the Honorable Otis D. Wright II denied the defendants’ emergency application for sanctions but continued the trial to December 13, 2022. The trial has since been continued to March 21, 2023. Plenty of excitement ahead. Fascinating case, factually and legally.

Armes is represented by Allison S. Hart of Lavely & Singer PC.

The defendants are represented by David A. Steinberg, Gabriella N. Ismaj, Christine Lepera, and Jeffrey M. Movit of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP.

The case is Tyler Armes v. Austin Richard Post et al., case number 2:20-cv-03212, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

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