NEW YORK (AP) – An appeals court ruled Thursday for music producer Dr Luke on an important legal issue in his defamation lawsuit against pop star Kesha, saying the Grammy-nominated hitmaker was not a personality public in the eyes of the law.
The ruling is not a final judgment in the long-running legal dispute between the singer who sells multiplatinum, who says Dr Luke raped her, and the producer, who denies it and says his former protégé has her. stained with lies.
But Thursday’s ruling upholds a 2020 lower court finding that Kesha made a defamatory statement about her – to Lady Gaga – and that she cannot defend her by saying that Dr Luke is a public figure. . This matters because public figures have to meet a higher legal standard than ordinary people to prove that they have been defamed.
Requests for comment have been sent to lawyers for Dr Luke, Kesha and more than a dozen media outlets and organizations that have filed friend of the court documents in the case. The media group argued that the lower court ruling would help powerful people end free speech and report on sexual abuse.
But a divided panel of justices from the state Supreme Court’s Appeals Division ruled the lower court was correct in ruling that Dr Luke was not a public figure.
“Although he is an acclaimed and well-known music producer in the entertainment industry, he is not a household name,” the opinion said.
He also couldn’t be considered a public figure just because he was involved in the public conversation about sexual assault in the entertainment world.
“He never injected himself into the public debate” on the issue and “limited his involvement to what was necessary to defend himself,” said the judgment.
Kesha, known for hits such as “TiK ToK” and “Praying,” and Dr Luke have been locked in legal battles since 2014, when she filed a lawsuit alleging he drugged and raped her. in 2005 and tormented her emotionally for years.
Dr Luke, who produced some of the biggest pop hits of the 2000s, has denied Kesha’s allegations and sued her, claiming she smeared him with made-up claims in the hope of breaking his contract of disk.
A New York court later dismissed Kesha’s sexual abuse allegations due to delays and other legal issues, without ruling on the merits of the allegations.
Meanwhile, Kesha claimed – in a 2016 text message to Lady Gaga – that “Firework” singer Katy Perry “was raped by the same man.” Dr Luke denies the allegation and Perry said this was “absolutely not” true during sworn questioning in 2017.
Kesha, née Kesha Rose Sebert, rose to fame with “TiK ToK”, her festive debut in 2009. Most recently, she created a memorable moment at the 2018 Grammy Awards with her touching performance of “Praying”.
Dr Luke, born Lukasz Gottwald, has worked with stars such as Perry, Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson and Nicki Minaj. Her career declined after Kesha went public with her allegations and female stars including Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Adele and Lady Gaga stood by her side.
But under the nickname Tyson Trax, he made a comeback last year, producing and co-writing “Say So,” Doja Cat’s No. 1 hit on Billboard Hot 100. This earned her her first Grammy nomination since 2014.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who report being sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Kesha did.
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