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Kesha says Dr Luke’s continued success hinders his libel action

By | Published on Monday 5 November 2018


Legal reps for Kesha have filed new papers arguing that Dr Luke’s defamation action against their client is weakened by the fact he continues to allegedly earn millions for his production work.

The long-running and multi-layered legal dispute between one time collaborators Kesha and Luke is now focused on the latter’s defamation action against the former. She accused him of rape, while he accused her of making up the assault allegation to force his hand in contract negotiations.

Both sides are currently pushing for a summary judgement in their favour in the defamation action, hoping to avoid the whole matter heading into a full court hearing before a jury. Much of the back and forth between the two sides has been sealed, not least because recent documents have included discussions on what elements of the case should or should not be kept confidential, even if a jury trial does take place.

However, last week Kesha’s team briefly publicly filed a document that was meant to have been sealed. And prior to its status being changed and the paperwork being removed from public view, The Hollywood Reporter grabbed a copy.

Although not offering a complete picture, the document gives an interesting insight into what is currently being discussed and the arguments on each side.

Kesha’s key argument remains that she was raped by Dr Luke and if she can prove that then she cannot be held liable for defamation. In that regard, her team say that Dr Luke’s lawyers are pushing for any evidence that “corroborates Kesha’s rape and abuse allegation” to be sealed, when they would rather it be made public.

If Kesha’s lawyers cannot prove that the assault took place, they will then try to counter Luke’s central argument that her accusations have damaged his ability to make a living. On this point, both sides are currently arguing over whether or not a full list of artists Luke has worked with since 2014 should be made public or not.

The latest court submission by Kesha’s side states: “Dr Luke may not want the public to know that he continues to earn millions of dollars and work with the music industry’s most coveted artists – while Kesha remains trapped in a thirteen year old contract under which she earns little-to-no record royalties – but that preference alone does not warrant sealing”.

Elsewhere in the dispute, Dr Luke’s side recently argued that Kesha, her management team and press reps conducted a co-ordinated smear campaign against the producer in 2014, in an attempt to force his hand in those contract negotiations.

To that end, in September the judge in the case agreed that Kesha should be asked to defend press statements made by her and her representatives after she originally went legal against the producer. This followed the unsealing of emails between Kesha managers Jack Rovner and Ken Levitan, along with music industry veteran Irving Azoff, in which they said that they should “battle this guy in the press” and “take down his business”.

However, Kesha’s side now argue that Luke and his team have also been playing the media in order to present their case in a more sympathetic light.

Despite those few revelations, what last week’s filing really shows is that the case remains in a deadlock, not getting any closer to a trial date. Whether either side can convince the judge to deliver a summary judgement in their favour before it gets that far remains to be seen.