Taylor Swift Is on Kesha’s Side, But Contract Law Is Not

Experts say singer faces an uphill struggle


Pop star Kesha has won the support of her famous peers and fans on Twitter in her legal dispute with Dr. Luke, but contract law may not be on her side, legal experts told TheWrap.

Kesha has drawn the support of artists like Taylor Swift and Adele as she contends that she suffered sexual and psychological abuse by Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald), and asked to be released from her contract with Sony to work with him.

Kesha’s abuse allegations are folded into a civil complaint against Gottwald — who vehemently denies all of Kesha’s charges. Unfortunately for her case, contract law tends to heavily favor the producer, not the artist, Loyola Law School Associate Dean Sean Scott told TheWrap.

“I don’t see how she’s going win on the contract,” Scott said. “The challenge is that the harm she’s complaining of is not really a harm stemming from a breach of the contract. None of it is based in saying Sony has not fulfilled its obligations.”

Last Friday, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha injunctive relief from her deal, citing a lack of evidence for the abuse and the six full studio albums she still contractually owes Sony. Releasing Kesha from the deal would undermine state contract law, Kornreich decided. Kesha has a standing offer to Kesha to record music with zero involvement from Gottwald.

“The right resolution is what the judge said on Friday — it’s to recognize the very large and important investment Sony had with Kesha. She’s talented, and I don’t blame Sony at all for fighting back,”said Larry Iser, an intellectual property lawyer and partner at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert.

The judge must now decide whether to dismiss the case entirely, or find cause for trial. If the former happens, Kesha would be legally obligated to release music with Sony if she wants to continue her singing career. If the case goes to trail, Scott said the discovery process begins — which would mean a formal investigation into her allegations. 

Kesha maintains she would be “willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser.” Sony attorney Scott A. Edelman told the New York Times that the label has “made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement or interaction with Luke whatsoever,” but said it is “not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha.”

“Sony is doing everything it can to support the artist in these circumstances, but is legally unable to terminate the contract to which it is not a party,” Edelman added.