As the hashtag #FreeKesha #MuteDRLuke comes back around the world, we take a look at the lengthy legal battle between Kesha and Dr Luke. Here is everything you need to know about the issue between them.
1. The scandal
Source: Rolling Stone
On 11 February, as pop music fans tuned in to Kim Petras’ new EP, a sense of unease spread slowly across social media. The EP, titled Slut Pop, includes songs about oral sex such as “Treat Me Like a Slut” and “Throat Goat.” In other circumstances, it could have felt like an empowering ode to sexual submission, but in this case, people were confused.
That’s because the entire EP was produced and co-written by none other than Dr Luke, the one-time revered producer who made a name for himself by working with the likes of Katy Perry and Kesha. Dr Luke was once an untouchable titan in the pop music landscape – and then, in October 2014, Kesha filed a civil lawsuit in which she accused him of emotional and sexual abuse.
Shortly after Petras dropped her EP, Ben Abraham, a songwriter who co-wrote Kesha’s song “Praying”, tweeted: “Kesha’s still signed to Dr Luke. Just in case anyone forgot. It’s still in litigation. He still controls her releases. It’s been eight years. Women’s voices matter.” Slowly, the hashtag #FreeKesha started trending on Twitter, with fans expressing their hope that the world will sit up and pay attention once more to the complicated legal situation Kesha finds herself in.
2. Kesha signed to Dr Luke’s label in 2005 (she was just 18)
Source: The Ny Times
Kesha’s relationship with Dr Luke began in 2005 when she signed to Kemosabe Records, Dr Luke’s label. In 2009, she signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records (both, at the time, were part of Sony Music), and later that year she unleashed her debut single “Tik Tok” on the world. It became a massive hit, and went on to spend nine weeks at number one in the United States. The following year, she released her debut album Animal.
Dr Luke was heavily involved in Kesha’s career from the get-go, and he continued to wield creative control during the recording of her second studio album Warrior, which was released in 2012. The following year, a fan set up a petition calling for the singer to be “freed” from Dr Luke’s management, suggesting that he was “stunting” her growth as an artist.
Kesha walking into court in February 2016.
3. Dr Luke denies raping Kesha
Shortly after that decision, Dr Luke tweeted: “I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister.” Kesha later claimed on social media that she was told she would be freed from her record deal if she publicly retracted her rape and drug allegations against Dr Luke and apologised for lying. The singer said she rejected the offer, saying the truth could not be retracted. A spokesperson for Dr Luke denied that the settlement deal was ever offered.
Kesha was dealt her biggest legal blow in April 2016 when Kornreich dismissed the singer’s allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender violenceDr. Luke attends the 31st annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom. (Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic) “While Kesha’s [claim] alleges that she was sexually, physically and verbally abused by Gottwald for a decade, she describes only two specific instances of physical/sexual abuse,” Kornreich wrote in her decision. “And the most recent event described was alleged to have happened in 2008 and so falls outside of the statute of limitations.”
In August, Kesha dropped her sexual abuse case in Los Angeles, but said the case would continue in New York. She said the lawsuit had been heavy on her “once free spirit” and that she would pray to “one day feel that happiness again”.
3. “I Don’t Think I Need to Work With Him Again”
“I haven’t worked with him in a very long time,” Doja Cat told Rolling Stone. “A lot of those songs were…. There’s shit that he’s credited for, where I’m like, ‘Hmm, I don’t know, I don’t know if you did anything on that.’” Doja Cat added, “The point is he’s gotten some credit for shit. And, you know, it’s whatever. I don’t think I need to work with him again. I don’t think I need to work with him in the future. I know that…. I think it was definitely nice of me to work with him.”
In a follow-up email to Rolling Stone, Doja Cat stated: “I wanted to clarify something that I had been thinking about since the interview. When asked about Luke I may have said something that someone could interpret as me saying that he had taken credit on things he didn’t deserve to. I just want to be clear that I have no firsthand knowledge of that being the case and I don’t want to participate in the rumor mill. The credits on my music are accurate, and I don’t want to imply anything else”.
4. She asked the courts to free her from her contact with Dr Luke
In January 2014, Kesha checked into a rehabilitation facility and revealed that she had been suffering from bulimia. It was there that she started work on her third studio album, the record that would become Rainbow, and when she got out of rehab, she ditched the infamous dollar sign in her name publicly.
In October of that year, things changed forever for Kesha when she filed a civil lawsuit against Dr Luke. She accuse him of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse and violation of business practices in California during their near-decade working together. Almost a year later, Kesha asked for a preliminary injunction that would release her from her contract with Kemosabe Records. Dr Luke – who has always denied all of the allegations levelled against him – filed a countersuit claiming that Kesha and her mother had defamed him. He claimed that they had fabricated allegations of abuse so she could be released from her contract.
In February 2016, Kesha was dealt her first major setback – Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled against her request that she be freed from her contract with Kemosabe Records after Dr Luke said she wouldn’t have to work with him anymore. “You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry,” Kornreich told Kesha’s lawyers. “My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing.”
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