Post Malone says in a new court filing that the Canadian musician now suing him for songwriting credit on the megahit “Circles” has failed to show he contributed anything “original” to the multiplatinum composition.
In new paperwork filed this week in federal court in Los Angeles, the rapper is asking a judge to dismiss Tyler Armes’ lawsuit with prejudice and make a declaratory judgment at a hearing next month that explicitly states Armes is “not a joint author.”
Malone admits Armes “was present for one early session” while Malone and fellow songwriter Frank Dukes worked on a rough mix of the song in early August 2018 in Toronto, Canada. But he claims Armes never offered any input beyond “an admittedly extremely commonplace guitar chord progression,” known as 1-4-5 or C-F-G, and possibly a non-recorded “fragment of a guitar melody that Armes claims he sung to Post,” the filing states.
Malone and Dukes never intended to include Armes as a co-author of the song, didn’t record him during the session, and always had discretion to accept or reject his suggestions, the lawsuit claims.
“Armes does not have a shred of affirmative evidence with which to meet his burden of proof that his alleged contribution to the guitar melody is original,” the filing obtained by Rolling Stone argues.
The new filing includes a copy of Armes’ deposition in which he describes the 1-4-5 chord progression as “extremely” common.
“Armes admitted that his contributions did not even 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. Armes thus cannot even establish the threshold requirement that he made a copyrightable contribution,” the new paperwork states.
Malone’s new request for summary judgment asks the court for an April 4 hearing on the matter. A lawyer for Armes did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone on Friday.
Armes first sued Malone, whose legal name is Austin Richard Post, on April 7, 2020, in California. The same day, Malone sued Armes in New York. The suits were consolidated into the matter still pending in federal court in Los Angeles. The court previously dismissed Armes’ claim for authorship of the “Circles” recording, leaving only authorship of the composition still at issue.
Armes was a member of the Canadian rap-rock band Down With Webster and says he’s collaborated with Timbaland, Murda Beatz, Justin Tranter, and Jesse Saint John.
He alleges that on Aug. 5, 2019, Malone’s manager, Dre London, posted a snippet of “Circles” on Instagram, prompting Armes to reach out and request “credit.”
London allegedly replied several days later, saying, “Just showed Posty the message. He said he remembers. U played a tune on the bass then he played more after it.”
A process server for Armes has been trying to serve London with a subpoena in the ongoing lawsuit, sources tell Rolling Stone.
Armes claims he was offered a five percent cut of the publishing royalties on “Circles” but tried to negotiate a larger share before the offer was revoked.