Dispute Comes Full Circle

The right in copyright

Moments before trial was recently scheduled to take place, the parties associated in a songwriting copyright lawsuit reached a settlement.  Austin Post, who is more recognized by his stage name, Post Malone, was sued in 2020 following a disagreement with Tyler Armes.  Due to his apparent guitar chord contribution to the song “Circles,” Armes claimed that he should have been paid specific royalties.  According to his argument, Armes contends that he was presented with the contract to receive five percent of the song’s royalties, however, once he began negotiations to increase that percentage, the offer was rescinded. 

In response to the royalties conflict, Armes filed a lawsuit against Post Malone, producer Frank Dukes, and Universal Music Group.  In addition to the request to receive the owed royalties, Armes also sought credit for co-writing and co-producing the song.  Following the 2020 lawsuit filing, Post Malone initiated a claim of his own, asking a judge to rule that Armes did not successfully satisfy a valid claim of copyright and did not maintain co-authorship of the song’s lyrics or melody.  The matter of originality weighed heavily in the case and was the ultimate factor in the plaintiff’s failure to demonstrate his burden of proof.

Apparently, Armes even admitted that his guitar melody contribution was not at the level of uniqueness necessary to assert a claim of copyright dispute.  Based on Armes’ alleged originality statement, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.  Legal counsel for Armes, however, challenged that accusation and instead focused on Post Malone’s allegedly drastic attempts to avoid testifying before a jury.  While the terms of the settlement have not been made known to the public, it is evident that the parties arrived at a mutual understanding.  This undisclosed settlement was reached just before Post Malone was set to testify as part of a four-day trial.