Sony’s relationship with embattled producer Dr. Luke is in question, according to court records and the Hollywood Reporter — which might at first appear like vindication for pop star Kesha, who has been fighting him in court for years.
But in reality, Kesha’s attorneys have claimed, if Sony were to cut ties with Dr. Luke, that could potentially make it harder for her to break free of their toxic working relationship.
For months, rumors have circulated that Sony might drop the controversial hitmaker, whose credits include chart-topping singles like Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.” But Dr. Luke’s representatives have previously denied reports of an imminent split.
“Luke has an excellent relationship with Sony,” his attorney said in March 2016. “His representatives are in regular contact with executives at the highest levels at Sony and this has never come up.”
But now, a court filing from attorneys representing Sony-owned Kemosabe Records states that “Lukasz Gottwald is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records and does not
have authority to act on its behalf.” A page devoted to his work on the Sony website has been removed, the Hollywood Reporter writes.
An attorney for Dr. Luke did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
It is the latest twist in a high-drama legal fight between the producer, born Lukasz Gottwald, and the pop singer Kesha, born Kesha Rose Sebert, who first filed suit against Dr. Luke in 2014. She claimed that he had drugged, raped and traumatized her through relentless emotional abuse, which led her to develop an eating disorder. Kesha asked the court to release her from a contract that bound her to produce six records with him, the man she claimed had tormented her. Dr. Luke, who has consistently denied the singer’s accusations, promptly countersued Kesha for defamation in New York.
Kesha’s case drew worldwide attention last year after a New York Supreme Court justice denied a preliminary injunction that would have permitted Kesha to record music outside Kemosabe Records while her case against Dr. Luke continued. As footage of Kesha sobbing in the courtroom spread across social media, outrage ensued: #FreeKesha began to trend on Twitter, hundreds of thousands of people signed an online petition to liberate the singer from her contract and an onslaught of high-profile celebrities — including Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Adele, Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham, among others — offered vocal support to Kesha.
But her efforts haven’t been as well-received in court. In April 2016, a Manhattan State Supreme Court justice dismissed all but one of Kesha’s claims against Dr. Luke. The singer’s attorneys recently filed a notice of appeal; meanwhile, Dr. Luke’s defamation claim against Kesha is still pending.
In a counterclaim filed in response to Dr. Luke’s defamation lawsuit, Kesha’s attorneys warned that Dr. Luke was “poised to acquire even greater control over Kesha and her career” after Sony’s contract with the producer “purportedly ends.” This development would leave Kesha in an even more vulnerable position, her lawyers argued in the court filing: “Without the court’s intervention and Sony’s facilitation, Kesha will remain contractually bound to Dr. Luke until she releases three additional albums, each containing six songs produced individually by Dr. Luke, no matter how many years that takes.”
Kesha’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This post has been updated.