A New York judge’s ruling last month to deny recording artist Kesha Rose Sebert (called Kesha or Ke$ha by her fans) an injunction against producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald has been met with widespread criticism by Kesha’s fanbase and by fellow celebrities. The injunction would have voided Kesha’s contract with Dr. Luke, as well as granted her monetary damages on the grounds that Dr. Luke had “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused” Kesha to near death and consequently, that forcing her to work with him in order to fulfill the terms of her six-album contract with him would be unjust.
The lawsuit was initially filed in 2014, the year Kesha entered rehab for two months to seek treatment for bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder. In her complaint against Dr. Luke, she alleges that he drove her to this eating disorder, calling her a “fat f—— refrigerator” and “repeatedly instruct[ing] her to lose weight.” She also alleges that Dr. Luke sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. On one occasion she was drugged and presumably raped, and threatened to destroy her career and her family’s life if she ever told anyone about the abuse. The injunction was filed so Kesha would not have to work with him or have her albums benefit him anymore. Its denial means that for Kesha’s next four albums, part of the profits will go to Dr. Luke, her alleged abuser, regardless of whether or not he is otherwise involved in their production.
The original contract involved Kesha, Dr. Luke and Sony. An attorney representing Sony told the New York Times on Friday that “Sony has made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement or interaction with Luke whatsoever, but Sony is not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha,” meaning that Kesha will indeed be forced to share profits for her next four albums with Dr. Luke although she does not have to work with him. California law typically voids contracts after seven years except in the case of recording artists like Kesha, where such contracts never expire.
Sony’s comment comes in the wake of a statement from Dr. Luke’s lawyer on Monday, reading “Kesha is already ‘free’ to record and release music without working with Dr. Luke as a producer if she doesn’t want to. Any claim that she isn’t ‘free’ is a myth…the allegations against [Dr. Luke] are outright lies that have been advanced to extort a contract renegotiation and money.”
The singer’s fans have been behind her. The #FreeKesha hashtag, which originated from a fan’s petition claiming that Kesha was given little creative freedom in her most recent album, before the more serious abuse allegations, surfaced as a plea to release Kesha from any connection to Dr. Luke. Celebrities have aligned themselves with the hashtag and its cause. Lady Gaga tweeted last week, “There are people all over the world who love you @KeshaRose. And I can say truly I am in awe of your bravery.” She received over 90,000 retweets.
Other celebrities showing their support include Kelly Clarkson as well as Adele, who publicly backed the #FreeKesha movement during her BRIT Awards acceptance speech for Best British Female Artist last month. Taylor Swift even went as far as to donate $250,000 to Kesha, with Swift’s spokesperson saying it was to help with the singer’s financial needs during this “trying time.”
The level of support for this cause shown by celebrities has been a subject of scrutiny in the media. Demi Lovato went under fire for criticizing Swift’s donation, tweeting, “Take something to Capitol Hill or actually speak out about something and then I’ll be impressed.” Lovato later confirmed that this was in direct reference to the donation, saying that she felt her own series of tweets about female empowerment was more important and helpful than “throwing money at people.” Lovato was criticized for drawing attention away from Kesha and towards herself. Similarly, Katy Perry has been critiqued for saying nothing about the case. Many Twitter users with #FreeKesha as their handles, including @celestialkesha and @PrismaticPerry, have been requesting she tweet #FreeKesha or show support for the singer in some way.
Kesha thanked her fans for the support, tweeting “thank you for all the support in my legal case animals. i love all of you. it’s meant the world to me. xoxo.”