Kesha vs. Dr Luke

The trial between Kesha and her manager, Dr. Luke has been heavily documented by the media, due to its controversial nature and the shocking verdict. You may have seen the image of Kesha in the courtroom, tears rolling down her face, as she heard the judge’s ruling that she would not be allowed to break the contract with the man she accused of drugging and raping her. 

The verdict has caused shock among many, with a range of celebrities and people everywhere showing their support with the hash tag #freeKesha. The outrage stems from the fact Kesha is not asking for Dr. Luke to be imprisoned because of these accusations, she simply wants to break the contract she has with him, so she can make music again and move on from the pain she says he has caused. For those not up to date on the case, this timeline shows some of the events that have led up to the courtroom…

2005: Kesha was first signed to Dr. Luke’s record label ‘Kemosabe Records’ at age 18.

2009: Kesha featured on Flo Rida’s single ‘Right Round’ a breakthrough that lead to her debut album the following year. She went on to have a string of top ten hits including ‘Tik Tok,’ ‘Die Young’ and ‘Timber.’

2011: As a part of a deposition for a lawsuit against her former managers at DAS communications, Kesha allegedly swore under oath that Dr. Luke had never assaulted or drugged her. Something later to be used as highly influential evidence for Dr. Luke’s defense.

2013: The first instance of the ‘Free Kesha’ being used in relation to her being under Dr. Luke’s management. A petition was started by a fan through the belief Kesha’s management was not allowing her to fulfill her potential.

TV series documentary called Kesha: My Crazy Beautiful Life, began to air on ITV. The show suggested Kesha had little control over her debut album ‘Warrior,’ and many of the songs she wrote did not make it onto the record at the decision of Dr. Luke.

2014: This year marked the first time Kesha’s personal struggles were out in the open. January 3th, she checked into Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center in Lemont Illinois for treatment with an eating disorder - bulimia nervosa – her mother claimed she developed and suffered with since she was first signed.

October of the same year, Kesha took her first legal action against Dr. Luke. She sued him for all manors of abuse she said had been going on since she first signed with Kemosabe Records in 2005. Among the accusations were; sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse and violation of California business practices. Not only this, but Kesha claimed Dr. Luke drugged her without her consent on a number of occasions, once waking up naked in his bed after taking “sober pills” he gave her, with no memory there. She claimed the abuse was what caused her eating disorder.

In response, Dr. Luke filed a countersuit against Kesha stating defamation, and he accused Kesha, her mother and her management of making up the claims to break the contract with him.

2015: Kesha wore a dress to New York Fashion week by Discount Universe, which had the words ‘You Will Never Own Me’ emblazoned on it.


There was a series of amendments to the lawsuits of both parties. Dr. Luke’s lawyers incorporated a hand written birthday card from Kesha supposedly written prior to the alleged abuse. As well as e-mail exchanges between Dr. Luke and Kesha’s mother, which did not imply any bad feelings between the parties. Kesha’s legal team extended the lawsuit to include Sony Music entertainment, and alleged they knew about the abuse but failed to take against it, even concealed it. Furthermore, due to the stress of the situation, Kesha was unwilling to work with Dr. Luke and due to the contractual obligations, she was unable to work with any body else, effectively bringing her musical career to a standstill.

This brings us to the present day, where the trial against Dr. Luke concluded on February 19th 2016. Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled against Kesha’s request for a preliminary injunction to ensure her release from the contract with Dr. Luke.  During the trial, the judge discussed the vagueness of Kesha’s claims and the lack of medical evidence to prove some of the claims.

As it stands, Kesha remains in a contract with Dr. Luke and many famous faces and fans have been voicing their opinions on twitter under the hashtag #freeKesha, with Taylor Swift supposedly donating $250 000 towards her legal bills. Celebrities such as Jack Antonoff have offered to work with Kesha and ‘leak’ the music. Not to mention Adele, who dedicated her recent Brits win to Kesha to show her support.

According to the New York Times, the most recent update from Sony’s legal team states that they (Sony) are "not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha.” They also state "Sony has made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement or interaction with Luke whatsoever."