Sony Music cuts ties with producer Dr. Luke amid Kesha war


Sony Music is ending its partnership with Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), The Hollywood Reporter has learned, after a long relationship that generated dozens of smash hits for stars including Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne and Miley Cyrus, as well as controversy when rape allegations were made by Kesha Rose Sebert.

Together, Sony and Dr. Luke established Kemosabe Records in 2011, after the former Saturday Night Live musician gained prominence for producing such songs as Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." The deal gave Dr. Luke extraordinary creative control in return for exclusive rights to his services as a producer. The label didn't have too many hits — R. City's "Locked Away" was one — but Dr. Luke did continue to churn out hits for Sony's roster including Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" and Pitbull's "Timber."

Nevertheless, in October 2014, Kesha came forward to accuse Dr. Luke of once forcing her to take a date rape drug and then proceeding to take advantage of her in a hotel room. She also claimed that Dr. Luke had exerted "suffocating control" over her life for a decade, bombarding her with insults about her looks, and denying her meaningful profits from her work, which included the multiplatinum single "Tik Tok."

See photos of Kesha:

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Court rules Kesha must continue working with alleged rapist Dr. Luke
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Court rules Kesha must continue working with alleged rapist Dr. Luke
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kesha makes a court appearance as fans protest Sony Music Entertainment outside New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make eight more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Kesha arrives for an appearance in her case against Sony Music Entertainment at New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make three more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Michael Eisley who runs the Kesha Today Twitter account organized Kesha fans to protest Sony Music Entertainment outside New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make eight more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: People cheer as singer Kesha is seen arriving at New York State Supreme Court at on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make three more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kesha fans protest Sony Music Entertainment outside New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make eight more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kesha fans protest Sony Music Entertainment outside New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make eight more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
(Pool photo by Jefferson Siegel) - Kesha (center in white) cries as she learns she will not be released from her record label contract in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday, February 19, 2016. A judge said she would not allow Kesha to leave her record label. (Pool Photo by Jefferson Siegel/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
(Pool photo by Jefferson Siegel) - Kesha (center in white) cries as she learns she will not be released from her record label contract in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday, February 19, 2016. A judge said she would not allow Kesha to leave her record label. (Pool Photo by Jefferson Siegel/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kesha fans protest Sony Music Entertainment outside New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make eight more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kesha fans protest Sony Music Entertainment outside New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make eight more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kesha fans protest Sony Music Entertainment outside New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make eight more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Kesha leaves the New York State Supreme Court on February 19, 2016 in New York City. Sony has refused to voluntarily release the pop star from her contract which requires her to make three more albums with producer Dr. Luke, a man she claims sexually assaulted her. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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Dr. Luke filed his own defamation claim against Kesha and framed her attempt to extradite herself from record and publishing contracts as extortion. But soon came a social media "Free Kesha" campaign, which went viral and raised the profile of her claims significantly.

A New York judge rejected Kesha's attempt at an injunction so that she could work away from the auspices of Dr. Luke, then threw out her "hate crime" counterclaims, then denied her a second attempt at counterclaims premised on an alleged breach of contract. Last week, Kesha filed a notice of appeal on a nixed bid to impose California's seven-year limit on personal service contracts — marking the third pending appeal in this Kesha-Luke dispute before a New York appeals court.

Now, Dr. Luke's relationship with Sony has apparently crumbled. He's no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records and the company asserts he no longer has authority to act on its behalf. A page devoted to Dr. Luke on Sony Music's website has also been taken down.

Attorneys for Dr. Luke and Sony declined to comment. Kesha's reps were unavailable for comment.

Although this may be seen in some respects as a victory for the "Free Kesha" movement, there are two potential problems for Kesha. 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. Certainly, the culmination of Dr. Luke's deal with Sony will be spotlighted as the case moves forward.

Read one of Dr. Luke's rants:
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Dr. Luke breaks his silence on Kesha case on Twitter
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Dr. Luke breaks his silence on Kesha case on Twitter
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