The case won't be resolved for some time

By Alex Heigl
Updated February 23, 2016 11:10 AM
Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

If you’ve been following the news, you know that Kesha’s ongoing legal struggles have been, well, ongoing. And dramatic. And deeply troubling. And perhaps above all, confusing. Here’s a quick guide to getting oriented:

What’s at stake here?
Kesha is basically trying to get out of her recording contract with Dr. Luke, and his publishing company and label. The contract specifies that he produce at least six songs on each of her albums. She hasn’t released an album since 2012’s Warrior.

Why does she want out?
Kesha alleges that she was the victim of emotional and sexual abuse (including rape) by Dr. Luke. He categorically denies the allegations.

What’s the latest?
Last Friday, a judge ruled that Kesha would not be released from her recording contract with Sony and Luke while the trial plays out, which was unfortunate for her. (Earlier in the year, Dr. Luke’s defamation countersuit was dismissed, which was good news for her.)

What’s with the #FreeKesha tag?
Well, per Dr. Luke’s legal team, Kesha is technically “free” to work with other artists, as long as he’s still got those six songs on her album. She understandably wants to sever ties with him completely, and is open to remaining at Sony, though the label rejected her offer to work with them – but not Luke – in October 2015.

But she hasn’t recorded anything new without him?
Well, Kesha’s attorney alleges that even though Sony said they’d her record without Luke, the label would not promote music made without Luke’s involvement.

When does whole thing conclude?
Later this month, when the decision to release Kesha from the contract will be made in court.

Is there any precedent for this sort of thing?
Short answer, no: Kesha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, has said that “duress can void an agreement,” but cannot cite another case where a recording contract was dissolved because of abuse.

Long answer: “Holly Anderson, the lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, was released from a contract a judge deemed unfair and one-sided,” according to the International Business Times, but “there are barely any examples of artists successfully extricating themselves from their record deals.”

Also, so much of Kesha’s struggle is tied up in what it means to be a woman speaking out about sexual abuse. Luke’s team and Sony have both stated repeatedly that she never reported any assault when it occurred, which of course means little: So much sexual assault goes unreported and it forces the burden of proof on the victim. Tweeting Monday, Dr. Luke said that Kesha is motivated by money, and denied the rape allegations.

What does Kesha stand to gain from this?
Her creative – and emotional – freedom. If she stayed with Luke – a proven hit maker – as Geragos argued in court Friday, “you’re still telling her that she’s got to record with the very same entity that is controlled by him, who is the abuser.” (Luke has vehemently denied the claims, as recent as Monday evening, when he Tweeted, “I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her.”) If she wins, she’s already got an army of fans, but pop music is a fickle thing and hitting No. 1 again could be hard.