8:21am PT by Eriq Gardner
Dr. Luke Claims That Kesha Owes Him $1.3 Million in Royalties
Kesha Rose Sebert claims in proposed counterclaims that Dr. Luke won't support her new album and wanted to ruin her financially as vengeance for rape allegations. On Monday, in a bid to have those counterclaims rejected, songwriter-producer Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) spilled more details of her contract and royalty structures and told a New York judge that it's actually Kesha who owes money.
"Plaintiffs have paid Kesha her royalties for all relevant accounting periods, while Kesha baselessly refuses to pay Plaintiffs the much larger sums she owes them," states a memorandum filed by Dr. Luke's attorneys, Christine Lepera and Jeffrey Movit. "In December 2016 alone, Defendant received payments under her contracts with Plaintiffs in excess of $650,000. In sharp contrast, Defendant admits that she owes Plaintiff KMI over $1.3 million in ancillary royalties that she has failed to pay."
Royalty rates rarely ever get addressed in court papers. If percentages are discussed, it's usually under seal or redacted. But evidently, Kesha's contention of a breached contract and how she and her mother "would be penniless" upon Dr. Luke's legal success has opened the door to accounting in open court.
One of the exhibits lodged in court yesterday is Kesha's amended agreement with Dr. Luke's Kasz Money. Thus comes word that Kesha has agreed to pay his company 10 percent of her net receipts from the exploitation of her name and likeness. In other words, Dr. Luke gets a cut every time she's featured on T-shirts or posters, or in video games. Additionally, Kesha pays the company the greater of 10 percent of her net tour receipts or 5 percent of adjusted gross tour receipts.
Although Kesha hasn't put out a new album in years, she made an appearance at Coachella last year and performed elsewhere, so evidently, Dr. Luke feels entitled to a percentage.
In court papers, Dr. Luke's attorney says that Kesha's motion to amend her counterclaims "is yet another example of Kesha and her counsel’s attempt to litigate her dispute with Plaintiffs in the press. It was obviously designed to garner sympathetic headlines for Defendant, and further tarnish Plaintiffs, based upon false assertions and blatant mischaracterizations."
It's not just money.
"Defendant also would have this Court – and the press and public – believe that Gottwald has interfered with her recording process and has prevented her from recording new music," states the memorandum. "Nothing could be further from the truth. As Kesha’s proposed counterclaim concedes, she is recording in the studio with producers of her choosing and preparation is underway for the release of her next album. Gottwald has not interfered in any way with her recording process; and there is no factual allegation (as opposed to bare conclusion) to the contrary in Kesha’s proposed pleading. The fact that Gottwald never forfeited his rights as CEO of Kemosabe Records does not – and cannot – give rise to any new counterclaim."
To Kesha's complaint that "not one song has been approved, no release date has been set," Dr. Luke's side argues there's no provision in the agreements imposing such determinations "while the album is still being created."
Dr. Luke asserts that Kesha is attempting to make an "end run" around the judge's prior rulings to dismiss counterclaims and basing new claims "on fabricated events in an effort to create the 'appearance' of controversy where none exists."
He also takes aim at Kesha's attempt to use California's unique "Seven Year Rule," a statute enacted decades ago when Hollywood studios were repeatedly extending the contractual term on actresses and actors. The judge is told that New York law applies and such a claim is barred.
Last month, Dr. Luke made amendments to his own claims, asserting that Kesha and her reps are spreading defamatory statements in the media, encouraging the creation of "bogus Internet petitions" to pressure Sony, and falsely asserting that he raped another recording artist to another huge name in the industry.
Unlike Dr. Luke, Kesha's attorneys Daniel Petrocelli, James Pearl and Leah Godesky wrote the judge on Monday that they wouldn't oppose the amended claims in Dr. Luke's suit provided they are allowed necessary discovery of relevant witnesses and documents. One of the contentions is that Kesha texted allegations to Lady Gaga. So in theory, this would mean an opportunity to put Lady Gaga under oath.