Post Malone Avoids Trial Over ‘Circles’ With Settlement – Plus Bad Bunny, Cardi B & More
In this week's Legal Beat, a last-minute settlement for Posty, a new lawsuit against Bad Bunny, another defamation win for Cardi B and much more.
This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.
This week: Post Malone reaches a last-minute settlement to avoid trial in a closely-watched copyright case over his smash hit “Circles”; Bad Bunny faces a lawsuit from an ex-girlfriend over his alleged use of a recording of her voice in songs; a federal appeals court upholds Cardi B’s defamation verdict against a gossip blogger; and much more.
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THE BIG STORY: The Big Post Malone Trial … That Didn’t Happen
This morning, I was ready to tell you all about The Next Big Music Trial.
Set to run all this week, it was going to pit Post Malone against Tyler Armes, a musician who claims that he co-wrote the superstar’s chart-topping song “Circles” but was unfairly cut out of the credits. Billboard had reporters at the courthouse, and the case had it all: dramatic text message exchanges; a fateful all-night studio session; thorny questions about who owns what when a song gets written; and much more.
But now, there’s one big thing the case won’t have: a trial.
Minutes before the proceedings were set to start in Los Angeles federal court Tuesday (March 21), a settlement was reached. The judge jokingly waved goodbye to media members gathered to cover the case, and staffers could later be seen wheeling out musical equipment that was set to be utilized during the trial. What a letdown.
The specific terms of the settlement aren’t yet known, and neither side is commenting; we’ll keep an eye out to see if any credits for “Circles” are changed in the coming months. And I’ll let you know about the Next Big Music Trial — for real this time.
To get the full story, go read our full deep-dive breakdown of the case against Malone and our breaking news story about today’s big settlement.
Other top stories this week…
BAD BUNNY FACES VOICE LAWSUIT – Bad Bunny was sued by an ex-girlfriend who says he violated the law by using a recording of her uttering a now-famous catchphrase — “Bad Bunny Baby” — in two of his songs without her consent.
CARDI B’S LIBEL VERDICT AFFIRMED – A federal appeals court upheld Cardi B’s $4 million defamation verdict against Tasha K, a gossip blogger who made salacious false claims about the rapper on YouTube and social media concerning drug use, STDs and prostitution.
CHER v. MARY BONO MOVES AHEAD – More than a year after Cher sued Sonny Bono’s widow, Mary Bono, over a messy mix of royalties, termination rights and divorce law, a federal judge issued an initial ruling refusing to dismiss the case.
XXXTENTACION KILLERS CONVICTED – Three men were found guilty of the 2018 killing of star rapper XXXTentacion, who was shot outside a South Florida motorcycle shop while being robbed of $50,000; all three now face mandatory life sentences. The convictions came after a jury trial that was sometimes overshadowed by defense attorneys’ unsuccessful efforts to pull Drake into the proceedings over his alleged beef with the late rapper.
“THEY DO NOT SOUND ALIKE” – Nickelback beat a copyright lawsuit claiming the band ripped off its 2006 hit “Rockstar” from an earlier song called “Rock Star.” A judge ruled there was zero evidence that the band’s frontman, Chad Kroeger, ever heard the earlier song, adding that the two tracks simply “do not sound alike.”
THE WEEKND SETTLES COPYRIGHT FIGHT – Suniel Fox and Henry Strange, two musicians who sued The Weeknd for allegedly stealing key elements of his 2018 track “Call Out My Name,” reached a settlement with the superstar to end the lawsuit.
YOU KNOW YOU MAKE ME WANNA SUE – The Isley Brothers member Rudolph Isley filed a lawsuit against his brother Ronald Isley, accusing him of improperly attempting to secure a federal trademark registration on the “The Isley Brothers” — even though the name is supposed to be jointly owned.
COPYRIGHTS FOR AI SONGS? – Amid growing interest in the role that could be played in the music industry by “generative AI” tools similar to ChatGPT, a new report from the Copyright Office aimed to offer clarity on when such works can be protected by copyrights — and hinted that a more sweeping study might be in the works.
JAMES DOLAN v. EVERYBODY – Madison Square Garden filed a lawsuit challenging efforts by New York state regulators to revoke the company’s liquor licenses over its use of facial recognition technology, marking the latest defiant act by MSG chairman James Dolan in his increasingly sprawling battle to ban plaintiffs lawyers from his venues.