Can Sony Break Kesha’s Contract With Dr. Luke? Legal Roadblocks Make The Situation A Complicated One

On Friday, a New York-based judge ruled that Kesha will not be allowed to break her contract with Dr. Luke (real name, Lukasz Gottwald). In October 2014, Kesha accused Gottwald of raping her when she was 18 years old. (Gottwald has denied the allegations since, and countersued Kesha for defamation.) Following the ruling, Kesha's fans have shown massive support for her and her case. So much, in fact, that the #FreeKesha movement plans to protest outside of Sony's headquarters in New York City this Friday. However, with the protest plans now public, it's worth wondering if, despite the judge's ruling, Sony could break Kesha's contract themselves. After all, Kesha even said in a statement released to her Facebook page Wednesday that she would be "willing to work with Sony" if they "break all ties that bind" her to Gottwald.

However, according to Sony's attorney, Scott A. Edelman, in a statement to the New York Times, Sony can't break Kesha's contract because of legal reasons:

To break this down, the label supposedly isn't legally allowed to dissolve the contract because Kesha is signed to a subsidiary of Sony, Dr. Luke's Kemosabe Records. Rather than an actual "recording contract," Kesha is signed to Dr. Luke's two production companies — Kasz Money Publishing and Prescription Song — under a "furnishing agreement." According to this statement, Kesha's contract doesn't technically belong to Sony and instead belongs to Dr. Luke and his production companies. So even if Sony were to terminate their contract with Dr. Luke, Dr. Luke would still have control over Kesha's music.

To make things more complicated, in a statement to Rolling Stone, Dr. Luke's lawyer Christine Lepera explained that Kesha is free to make music without Dr. Luke:

This statement echoes what Judge Shirley Kornreich — who made the decision in Kesha's case to block her from being released from her contract with Sony — said in her ruling on Friday:

Though Sony has offered to let Kesha work on new music without Dr. Luke — the best they can do, according to Edelman — there are still potential roadblocks. According to TMZ, Kesha's team claims that Sony is able to shut out Kesha entirely if she doesn't work with Dr. Luke. Jim Urie, the former President and CEO of Universal Music Group Distribution, made similar claims in an affidavit submitted to the court on Friday. "...no mainstream distribution company will invest the money necessary to distribute songs for an artist who has fallen from the public eye, as is happening to Kesha at this very moment. Accordingly, if Kesha cannot immediately resume recording and having her music promoted, marketed, and distributed by a major label, her career is effectively over." Sony did not immediately respond to Bustle's request for comment regarding these claims — but, as mentioned in Judge Kornreich's ruling, Sony claims they "are committed" to promoting Kesha's work.

When the allegations first surfaced in October of 2014 — Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke citing verbal and sexual abuse, and Dr. Luke quickly filed his own countersuit against Kesha and her mother for defamation — Kesha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos told Billboard that this is about Kesha's personal freedom, not her career freedom. He said:

Since the ruling, Kesha has posted a response to her fans on Instagram, thanking them for their continued support.

Her short caption on Instagram was followed by a more lengthy letter on Facebook, where Kesha shared the following message:

You can read the entire thing here.

With Sony allegedly unable to break the contract, it's not clear how Kesha will choose to carry on with her career, and if she'll make any music at all with the label or Dr. Luke in the future.