Sony ends its deal with Dr. Luke, but that might not be good news for Kesha.

Sony Is Ending Its Deal With Dr. Luke, but That Might Not Be Good News for Kesha

Sony Is Ending Its Deal With Dr. Luke, but That Might Not Be Good News for Kesha

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Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
April 25 2017 4:58 PM

Sony Is Ending Its Deal With Dr. Luke, but That Might Not Be Good News for Kesha

dr luke
Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald (left) and Max Martin.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sony Music is cutting its business ties to Lukasz Gottwald, better known as Dr. Luke, the hitmaking producer who is more recently famous for being sued for sexual assault and emotional abuse by Kesha, who is signed to his Kemosabe imprint. Since 2014, when Gottwald countersued Kesha Rose Sebert for defamation and breach of contract, she says she has been unable to release new music, since doing so would require working with the man who allegedly drugged and raped her. Gottwald, to quote Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s New York Times Magazine profile of Kesha, denied through his representatives “that he had created an image for Kesha outside the one she originally crafted for herself; that he had pressured her to put only party songs on ‘Animal’; that he had dictated lyrics to her; or that he had emotionally abused her in any way.”

Given that Sony now says that the ousted Gottwald “no longer has authority” to act on Kemosabe Records’ behalf, Kesha might seem to be in a better position. But as the Reporter makes clear, it’s not so simple:

First, in her own court papers, she previously cited reports that Sony's deal with Dr. Luke was imminently about to end and warned the judge that she'd no longer have Sony as a go-between, making her situation worse. Second, Dr. Luke's defamation claims against her are still pending, and in advance of the trial, his attorneys have been collecting evidence about how his career has suffered as a result of her rape allegations.
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In other words, the end of Gottwald’s deal with Sony could be used by him in court to prove material damages from her alleged defamation. Meanwhile, Kesha’s own suit remains stalled in court, where in March, a judge ruled that Gottwald’s alleged abuse could not be used to void their contract because “Kesha has admitted that Gottwald's alleged abuse began at the outset of their relationship in 2005”—in other words, according to the courts, she should have known what she was getting into.

Sam Adams is a Slate senior editor and the editor of Slate’s culture blog, Brow Beat.