According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony may now be in the midst of severing ties with Lukasz Gottwald, aka Dr. Luke. The news follows a prolonged attempt by the producer to keep Kesha under contract even after the artist accused him of drugging, raping and psychologically abusing her. THR cites “a source” who says that the company is in negotiations to split with Dr. Luke, but it also mentions another source who says those claims aren’t wholly accurate.
Even so, part of Sony’s website devoted to the producer has been removed, and court papers suggest that Dr. Luke is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records, the label he established under Sony; meanwhile, the company has stressed that Gottwald doesn’t have “authority at to act on [Kemosabe’s] behalf.”
THR is clear that while this may seem like proper comeuppance for a man whose alleged sexual assaults led Kesha into years of legal battles with the company that defended him — forcing her to halt her artistic endeavors just to avoid having to work under him — this doesn’t necessarily spell out a total win for “Free Kesha.” Prior to the news, almost every attempt of Kesha’s to win back her creative freedom had been dashed by the legal system: last year, a New York judge rejected her request for an injunction and discarded her hate crime-oriented counterclaims, writing, “Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime.”
Following her lawsuit, Dr. Luke, who claimed innocence, had filed a countersuit with defamation claims, which has yet to go to trial; since the suit is about damages to his career, THR notes that his lawyers could use Sony’s potential severing of ties as further evidence of his victimhood. Further, according to the Guardian, Sony’s own clarification in the court papers was intended “to dismiss a counterclaim by Kesha against the imprint as ‘misplaced'” — in other words, to cover their own tails. And lastly, if Sony were to actually sever ties with Dr. Luke altogether, there would potentially be no intermediary between him and Kesha.
It certainly seemed like Sony’s unwillingness to break Dr. Luke’s contract itself throughout this series of suits and countersuits was coming from a place of callousness and corporate misogyny, but Sony’s lawyer emphasized in court that the company was not a party to the original contract (made between Kesha and Dr. Luke’s company, Kasz Money), and thus couldn’t legally be the ones to break it.
The Guardian article suggests that Gottwald “continues to have a relationship” with Sony, despite being stripped of authority at Kemosabe, apparently on March 31. It was initially suggested that Sony would be cutting ties with Dr. Luke last year, and those claims were denied.