Kesha's Request for Removal From Her Contract With Dr. Luke Has Been Denied... Again

Illustration for article titled Kesha's Request for Removal From Her Contract With Dr. Luke Has Been Denied... Again
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Can Kesha catch a fucking break?

Here’s a refresher: Back in 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit requesting to be removed from her contract with Kemosabe Records, an imprint of major label Sony Music owned and operated by Dr. Luke (born Lukas Gottwald) who she alleges sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her. In 2016, a New York judge denied her injunction to be removed from the label, despite her sexual assault accusations, due to a lack of medical evidence. In 2017, she amended a countersuit against Luke, which was shot down by New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich. For that reason, it is likely that Luke profited from her last album, 2017's Rainbow, a brave, larger-than-life release that directly reflects her ongoing battles with her former collaborator—both in court and out of it.


On Tuesday, Kesha hit yet another roadblock on her path to creative freedom. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a New York appeals court affirmed the previous judge’s decision to reject Kesha’s counterclaims to have herself removed from contracts with Dr. Luke/Kemosabe.

Her countersuit read:

“You can get a divorce from an abusive spouse. You can dissolve a partnership if the relationship becomes irreconcilable. The same opportunity—to be liberated from the physical, emotional, and financial bondage of a destructive relationship—should be available to a recording artist.”

In the suit, Kesha claimed it is impossible for her to work with Kemosabe but because she released a new album and performed in the interim, her request was denied. The decision, made in a New York appellate court, reads as follows:

“Kesha’s proposed amendments are palpably insufficient and devoid of merit. Her counterclaim seeking declaratory relief terminating the agreements on the ground of impossibility and impracticability of performance was speculative, contradicted by her own allegations that she had continued performing under the agreements and, as to at least one of the agreements, the impossibility was not produced by an unanticipated event that could not have been foreseen or guarded against. The court also properly denied Kesha leave to assert a counterclaim for declaratory relief terminating the agreements on the ground that they violate California Labor Code § 2855, as the unambiguous New York choice-of-law provisions contained in the agreements preclude the application of that California statute. There was no basis to invalidate the choice of law clauses.”

This may very well be the final blow in Kesha’s battle for contractural freedom from Luke. THR’s report ends with the suggestion that the producer’s lawsuit could be headed to trial, where Luke will attempt to prove that Kesha’s sexual abuse allegations were, in fact, defamation.

URL: Senior Writer, Jezebel. IRL: Author of the very good book 'LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS,' out now.



Y’all too young to remember this?

The fallout with Warner and the birth of Symbol (1993-1996)

In the buildup to the release of The Gold Experience, Prince and Warner were at loggerheads over both money and his music. He decided to take the battle public by appearing with the word “Slave” written on the side of his face. His argument was that he was signed to Warner and they, as a result, owned and controlled his name as well as any music released under that name. He changed his name to that of a symbol and was referred to, variously, as “Symbol”, “Squiggle” or “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince”. This coincided with George Michael’s ill-fated attempt to get out of his contract with Sony, which he had termed “professional slavery”, meaning the record labels had a serious PR battle on their hands that they could not afford to lose. Unable to break free completely, Prince fulfilled the terms of his contract with a rapid run of albums, some of which were regarded as a shameless purging of studio tapes and offcuts just to make up the numbers.