Post Malone and Former Down with Webster Member Head to Trial in "Circles" Copyright Case

Canadian musician Tyler Armes claims to have co-written the hit and is seeking what Posty's lawyers call "unearned windfall"

Photo: Post Malone by Chris Allmeid (left)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Mar 20, 2023

It's time for someone to win, and someone else to say "congratulations." Tyler Armes, former member of late-aughts Canadian rap-rock crew Down with Webster, is heading to trial in Los Angeles this week for his copyright case against Post Malone.

Armes filed a lawsuit against the hitmaker, seeking a co-writing credit on "Circles" — the No. 1 single from 2019's Hollywood's Bleeding, which spent 61 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Canadian musician claims that he was part of an all-night studio session with Posty and collaborator Frank Dukes in August 2018, which he had attended at the request of Malone's team — and that, at one point, the artist born Austin Richard Post explicitly said, "Let's write a tune!"

Upon hearing the song the following year, Armes texted the pop star's manager, Dre London. "I was not just someone hanging out in the room," he wrote, as per later legal documents obtained by Billboard. "I was part of the writing process. The entire song (minus the lyrics other than 'circles') was laid down that night with the 3 of us in the room together, working together."

London allegedly replied a few days later, saying, "Just showed Posty the message. He said he remembers. U played a tune on the bass then he played more of it after." Apparently, Malone offered to give Armes five percent of the song's royalties after he reached out, but when the Canadian tried to negotiate a better deal, the rapper's people revoked the offer altogether.

The plaintiff's complaint continues, "Armes and Dukes co-wrote the chords for the song on the keyboard, and Armes co-wrote and had significant input in the bassline for the song. Armes also had input on the guitar parts in the song, including co-writing the guitar melody which is played in the introduction to the song and which repeats throughout the song."

Armes's legal team will argue that his involvement should allow him to own part of the copyright to the song, and that Malone's "bad faith refusal" to credit him has harmed his career. "Defendants' refusal to credit Armes … has resulted in significant harm to Armes' reputation, career and cost him a host of opportunities," his lawyer wrote. "Songwriters and composers work their entire lives to create a commercially successful and critically acclaimed song like ['Circles']."

The defendant's representation, meanwhile, say that Armes is just the latest plaintiff to "come out of the woodwork" with "utterly baseless" allegations in an attempt to gain "unearned windfall" from the success of "Circles."

Malone filed a countersuit the very same day, asking a judge to rule that Armes had nothing to do with the composition. While admitting that the Canadian musician had been in the room the night of the hit's original genesis, the star's lawyers argue that he didn't make any significant contributions and was not involved in any subsequent sessions spent working on it.

However, last April, US District Judge Otis D. Wright decided to send Armes's case to trial, believing that he might be able to convince a jury that he is owed a share in the song's success. Selection is set to begin tomorrow (March 21) and the trial is expected to run for four days, meaning there could be a verdict by Friday (March 24) or early next week.

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