Details of Kesha's Contract with Dr. Luke to Be Released Ahead of Trial

The long-running libel case between the pop star and her producer is about to shed new light on dealmaking in the music industry

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 20, 2021

There's been a landmark development in the seven-year libel lawsuit between pop star/original "Tik Tok"-er Kesha and producer Dr. Luke as the case prepares to finally head to trial: the truths hidden away in sealed contracts of the artists' dealings are about to be set free.

As reported by The Hollywood ReporterSony Music has lost the bid for secrecy in the ongoing legal battle following Kesha's accusation of the producer having raped her. Dr. Luke is suing the singer-songwriter for the allegation, while she's filed a countersuit arguing that his claims of defamation and breaches of contract are baseless.

On Tuesday (October 19), New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter rejected Sony's confidentiality concerns and ordered various contracts, financial records and business plans to be unsealed within days. However, the company will be able to redact personal identifying and contact information of its employees.

Sony had argued that the release of information — including recording budgets, royalty rates, artist advances and producer fees — would cause "substantial harm" to its business interests, bidding to keep these records under wraps. According to the company, making the details of Kesha's recording agreement publicly available would empower competitors to encourage artists and producers to sign with companies other than Sony.

"Any other asserted privacy interest Sony has in its records, many of which are quite old, is overwhelmingly outweighed by the public's right to fully understand the parties' contentions regarding the substantial damages sought by plaintiffs," Justice Schecter wrote in a statement.

Everything about this is kind of a big deal — in terms of both this particular case and its wider reverberations. This legal battle has already been extremely influential, setting precedents on a variety of topics ranging from gendered violence to what makes a public figure.

And the contractual ties between Kesha and Dr. Luke's companies — including Kemosabe Records, his joint venture with Sony — have remained at the forefront. Pop music dealmaking is kept notoriously hush-hush, and unleashing the documents outlining the pop star's obligations and compensation will shed much-needed light on the abusive working conditions she alleges. Additionally, It will provide unprecedented public insight into the manipulative potential contents of high-profile record deals.

No more smoke and mirrors and secrecy.

Kesha initially came forward will allegations against Dr. Luke in 2014, accusing the producer of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Since then, numerous other women in pop music — including Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Grimes and P!nk — have spoken out against Dr. Luke and in support of Kesha. In 2018, she also alleged that the producer raped Katy Perry in a text to Lady Gaga, which the court ruled defamatory last year.

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