How Much Time Is Left On Kesha's Contract With Dr. Luke? The Situation Is Deeply Complicated — UPDATE
Friday, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Kesha lost the preliminary injunction that would have permitted her to end her exclusive contract with producer Dr. Luke (real name: Lukasz Gottwald) and his label Kemosabe Records (which is owned by Sony). After hearing both sides, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled against Kesha, stating, “You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry.” The judge added, “My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing.” So, considering the judge's decision — how much time is left on Kesha's contract with Dr. Luke now?
Unfortunately, that question is easier asked than it is answered. Though the details of Kesha's contract with Dr. Luke and Sony have no way of being known, according to what is public knowledge, it seems that she is not exactly near the end of the tunnel: As reported by the New York Daily News, Kesha will have to record six more albums to fulfill her contractual obligations.
Kesha and Dr. Luke's messy legal battle began in October of 2014 when both filed suits against each other. First, Kesha accused Dr. Luke of verbal and sexual abuse — she claimed Dr. Luke had raped her when she was 18 years old — and then, Dr. Luke went on to countersue Kesha for filing said allegations. The producer claimed the accusations were unfounded and nothing more than a tactic to get Sony to release the "Tik Tok" singer from her contract. As the complaint in Dr. Luke's suit read: "As part of the effort to get out of the Gottwald Recording Agreement, Kesha and Pebe have also orchestrated a campaign of publishing false and shocking accusations against Gottwald to extort Plaintiffs into letting Kesha out of the Gottwald Recording Agreement."
After filing the suit in 2014, Kesha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, provided Billboard with the following statement:
This lawsuit is a wholehearted effort by Kesha to regain control of her music career and her personal freedom after suffering for ten years as a victim of mental manipulation, emotional abuse and sexual assault at the hands of Dr. Luke. The facts presented in our lawsuit paint a picture of a man who is controlling and willing to commit horrible acts of abuse in an attempt to intimidate an impressionable, talented, young female artist into submission for his personal gain. Kesha is focused on moving her life and her career beyond this terrible time.
According to TMZ, Sony is willing to let Kesha work with producers other than Dr. Luke, but the site claims the singer's team fears the label will shut her out entirely if she does not record music with her longtime collaborator. According to PEOPLE, when giving her decision on Friday, the judge addressed whether or not Kesha will have to continue to work with Dr. Luke exclusively:
[Sony] are willing to allow her to record without any involvement of Mr. Gottwald ... and there are papers from Mr. Gottwald that say he will agree to allow her to record without his involvement ... She doesn't have to work with him.
Now the other side has come forward to say, 'We will let her record without Dr. Luke.' I don't understand your problem ... It's not in [the company's] best interest to not make money and not promote a recording artist.
Update: In response to the court's ruling, Dr. Luke's attorney Christine Lepera released a statement to The Rolling Stone:
The New York County Supreme Court on Friday found that Kesha is already "free" to record and release music without working with Dr. Luke as a producer if she doesn’t want to. Any claim that she isn’t "free" is a myth. The sound decision Friday by the Court in denying Kesha's motion for an injunction made it clear Kesha's allegations of purported abuse were unconvincing and that she had no basis to void record contracts and copyrights… The goal of Kesha's counsel throughout has been to obtain a more lucrative contract through a shameless campaign of outrageous claims they will never stand behind in a court of law.
As Dr. Luke has said repeatedly, the allegations against him are outright lies that have been advanced to extort a contract renegotiation and money. Kesha and her counsel have cavalierly subjected Dr. Luke and his family to trial by Twitter, using a vicious smear campaign to ruin his reputation for financial gain while failing to support their claims… It will further be shown that the incidents alleged never happened.