The New York Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 20 that songwriter and pop singer Kesha must remain in her contract with Sony Music. Ruling against claims that producer Lukasz Gottwald sexually assaulted her in 2014, Judge Shirley Kornreich refused to grant an injunction on the contract. Kesha, whose solo single “Tik Tok” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and sold 610,000 copies, filed a suit in Oct. 2014 to void her contracts with the company.
“Disputes between singers and their recording companies can often be quite noteworthy,” said Bright Chong (10). “Because of the difficulty in obtaining evidence in cases like these, it is hard to win a case when it is one person’s word against another. I feel like Sony Music faces a difficult situation because it has to balance its public image with trying to profit from an extremely talented singer.”
In her ruling, Justice Kornreich said that Sony Music would incur losses if Kesha did not fulfill the contract, and cited the lack of medical evidence behind her claims as legal justification.
“Contracts can be broken, but there is always a penalty to breaking them, unless there is a special circumstance,” said Paul Roberts, Government and Politics teacher. “In terms of a musician wanting to break his or her contract with Sony Music, it determines a lot on how the contract was written by the singer who signed with the company. The question is both if Sony had an obligation to keep her safe, and if the allegation that a crime has been committed can be proven.”
In response to the lawsuit, Gottwald countersued Kesha for defamation and a breach of contract, claiming that the claims were tantamount to extortion. Gottwald’s legal team reported to the New York Times that the singer was attempting to force him out of the contract with negative publicity.
“I am sympathetic to the plight Kesha is in currently, and it is a situation many artists find themselves in,” said Jeffrey Park (11). “Ultimately, I think the way the system is designed makes it hard for contracts to be nullified. Because of this issue, it is hard for artists [who are] trapped in these kinds of situations to seek recourse.”
The case has been reserved until the judge will be able to dismiss the claims at a later time. Before then, a judge has the ability to let Kesha’s legal team file an amended version.