Column: Kesha is but a cash cow to Dr. Luke and the law

Pop star Kesha, center, leaves Supreme court in New York, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. Kesha is fighting to wrest her career away from a hitmaker she says drugged, sexually abused and psychologically tormented her _ and still has exclusive rights to make records with her. Producer Dr. Luke says the singer is slinging falsehoods and ruining his reputation to try to weasel out of her recording contract and strike a new deal. (AP)

The pop star Kesha is in the fight of her life, and as of Feb. 19, she is losing. Last Friday, a judge decided in a preliminary hearing that Kesha could not exit her current contract that she has with producer Dr. Luke and one of Sony Music Entertainment’s record labels, according to coverage from the Associated Press. Kesha, after revealing Dr. Luke’s sexual and mental abuse, needs to be freed from her contract for the safety of her health and her career.

In 2005, Kesha was an unknown artist who signed a contract with one of Dr. Luke’s record labels. Five years later she released “Tik Tok,” which was the first number one song on the Billboard list of the decade and would later go on to be multi-platinum. Dr. Luke, born Luckasz Sebastian Gottwald, is most known for producing songs such as “Since U Been Gone,” “Girlfriend” and “I Kissed A Girl.” He’s also worked with notable artists such as Miley Cyrus, Rhianna, Flo Rida and Pitbull.

The dispute with Kesha began in 2014 when Kesha checked herself into rehab for bulimia. This came after Dr. Luke supposedly said that Kesha “looked like a refrigerator” and had to lose weight as soon as possible. In October of that year, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke claiming that he sexual assaulted, drugged and damaged her emotionally. She said that she could not work with Dr. Luke ever again and filed a separate injunction to get out her record deal.

However, per her contract agreement, Dr. Luke and Sony Music Entertainment are entitled to five-albums, of which she has only completed two. She wouldn’t have to work directly with Dr. Luke, but he would be allowed to produce six songs per album if he wants. A judge chose not to pass Kesha’s injunction because Kesha could still technically create music under the contract without Dr. Luke’s involvement.

This decision may only be preliminary, but it is wrong. Forcing Kesha to record would not only force her to work with the man who raped her, but weigh a contract more heavily than her health and safety. While Kesha could technically make music without Dr. Luke, the final product would not be her own. Instead, it would be a warped creation started by her and finished by the monster who forced her into rehab in the first place- the same monster who drugged her and committed unspeakable acts to her, then later silenced her by holding the end of her career above Kesha’s head.

Dr. Luke has spoken out on Twitter against both Kesha’s lawsuit and the injunction claiming that Kesha is lying and that he would never rape her. In response to Kesha’s lawsuit, Dr. Luke filed a defamation lawsuit against Kesha in Oct. of 2014. On Feb. 22, he made his first statement about the case claiming that things would not be decided over Twitter but instead the court room.

Kesha’s fight has begun to gather famous advocates like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. Her advocates have urged feminists to vocalize their support, with Lovato adding “Women empowerment is speaking up for other women even when it’s something uncomfortable to speak up about,” and “Women empowerment is taking action now, not when it’s convenient.”

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this a feminist issue. Kesha isn’t being viewed as a person, but as a “cash cow” in the eyes of both the Dr. Luke and the law. Her claims seem to have fallen on deaf ears within the music industry and nobody seems to be taking this issue seriously. Kesha is currently suing one of the most powerful music producers in the industry and one of the largest labels over an issue that shouldn’t have needed to be brought to court in the first place. It is clear that Kesha should be released from her contract, without reservation. According to Forbes, there have been other allegations of similar abuses by Dr. Luke, albeit with no charges filed, yet people still refuse to believe that anything happened to Kesha and instead view the case with a cynical mindset.

Kesha has almost nothing to gain and everything to lose with this injunction. The damage done to her by Dr. Luke sent her into rehab and caused her to stop making music, stopped her from pursing her dream and her livelihood. If there is any humanity in the world, she will be let out of her contract and allowed to continue pursuing her dream instead of being forced to work with the man that ended her career for the first time.    


Amar Batra is a contributor to the Daily Campus opinion section, and is also a staff photographer. He can be reached via email at amar.batra@uconn.edu. He tweets at @amar_batra19.