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Kesha fails to secure injunction against Sony and Dr Luke

By | Published on Monday 22 February 2016


For a legal battle that has been going through the motions for some time now, there was much a stronger spotlight on the latest act in Kesha’s ongoing dispute with Dr Luke and his Sony imprint Kemosabe on Friday, as the New York State Supreme Court refused the singer’s request for a preliminary injunction to temporarily nullify her record contract.

As previously reported, Kesha Sebert sued Dr Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald, in 2014 alleging sexual assault and battery, and accusing the producer of plying her with drugs and alcohol and raping her as a teenager. He in turn sued the singer, claiming that she had invented these accusations as a means to get out of her record contract.

In this latest chapter in the case, Sebert’s lawyer Mark Geragos requested an injunction that would allow his client to make and release recordings with another record company, despite her contractual commitments to Sony and Kemosabe. Kesha argues that the legal dispute with Gottwald has put her entire career on hold.

The judge overseeing the case refused to comply, concluding that doing so would undermine New York State contract law. The judge added that Sebert’s agreement with Kemosabe was pretty standard for the music industry, and that Sony had offered a compromise in saying that the singer could record new material with another producer. Shifting Sebert to another Sony label has been previously proposed as a solution here.

Geragos argued that Sony’s offer to his client was “illusory”, because the major’s loyalties really lie with Gottwald, who generates more income for the music company. To that end, he reckons that Sony won’t properly promote any recordings Sebert makes with producers other than Gottwald, meaning the offer would buy the major time in the legal battle, but not help the singer overcome concerns that her career is now faltering because of this long drawn out dispute.

Plenty of artists know the feeling of falling between the cracks at a major record company once they have lost their internal champion, and not getting the promo support their new releases need as a result. But the judge said that Geragos had failed to successfully argue the case as to why Sony’s proposed compromise was not a workable solution.

Beyond the injunction to put Sebert’s record contract on hold, the court also discussed the allegations at the heart of this case. Again the judge said Geragos’s arguments were not strong enough, this time with regard to his clients allegations against Gottwald. Though the judge postponed making a decision on Sony’s application to have the whole case dismissed.

Whatever the legalities may be in this case, Sony Music is facing a mounting PR challenge over the way Sebert is being treated by her main corporate partner. A plethora of artists spoke out in support of the singer this weekend, while Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to Sebert to “help with any of her financial needs during this trying time”.

All of which may mean that, even if Sony and Gottwald succeed in having Sebert’s case dismissed, the music major may need to do something significant to demonstrate some compassion for the singer.