|WEDNESDAY 1 FEBRUARY 2017||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Kesha and Dr Luke have both asked for permission to update their counterclaims against each other in their now long-running legal battle. This is seemingly the result of an attempt by the judge overseeing the case to broker a settlement last month. So that went well. As much previously reported, this complex and multi-layered case centres on claims by Kesha Sebert that she was drugged and raped by producer Dr Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald... [READ MORE]|
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Kesha and Dr Luke sharpen lawsuits against each other
As much previously reported, this complex and multi-layered case centres on claims by Kesha Sebert that she was drugged and raped by producer Dr Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald. She is seeking to be released from her various contracts with him and his companies, including his Sony Music imprint Kemosabe Records. He, meanwhile, says that the allegations against him have been fabricated and is suing for defamation.
Over time, various parts of Seberts's case have been thrown out by the courts in New York, where most of the activity surrounding the dispute has taken place. Lawsuits were actually originally filed in three states, though her mother Pebe dropped a case in Tennessee last April and Sebert voluntarily dismissed her action in California last summer.
At that time, not long after Sebert had fired her lawyer Mark Geragos and hired legal firm O'Melveny & Myers instead, she said that the abuse claims would no longer be part of her case. However, the proposed amendments to her countersuit push those claims hard once again, as well as accusing Gottwald of withholding royalties due to her.
"You can get a divorce from an abusive spouse", says her new countersuit, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "You can dissolve a partnership if the relationship becomes irreconcilable. The same opportunity - to be liberated from the physical, emotional, and financial bondage of a destructive relationship - should be available to a recording artist".
Sebert failed to get an injunction to be temporarily released from her record deal a year ago, but was granted permission by Sony to work with producers other than Gottwald. While this has allowed her to begin recording music again, the updated lawsuit notes that "allowing Kesha to make music outside Dr Luke's presence does not free her from her abuser's control".
Expanding on this point, the lawsuit goes on to claim that Gottwald is now harming Sebert by withholding her royalties. It frames her as an artist who simply wants to be free to work with whoever she wishes, get paid what she is due, and move on, while pitching Gottwald as a man aiming to destroy her and her mother, leaving them "penniless".
"It was not until Kesha's counsel recently threatened further legal action that Dr Luke released certain funds owed to Kesha in December 2016, two years after they were due", says the claim. "Still, he has not paid her all of the amounts owed. Dr Luke has similarly worked to deprive Kesha of royalties from 'Timber', the multi-million unit hit that she recorded and co-wrote with Pitbull. Until the issue was raised with the court, Kesha had received none of the recording royalties or publishing royalties on 'Timber' she was owed".
It goes on: "To be clear, Kesha does not seek the renegotiation of contractual terms. She is not demanding more money. Kesha asks for something far more basic: the freedom to make music without being bound indefinitely to the very producer who subjected her to years of abuse and continues that abuse to this day. Dr Luke seeks tens of millions of dollars in punitive damages from Kesha and her mother. If successful, Kesha and her mother would be penniless".
With those attempts to come to a settlement unsuccessful, the sharpening of lawsuits on both sides is seemingly prompted by a new deadline - the conclusion of the current deal between Gottwald and Sony Music. Kemosabe Records was launched as a partnership five years ago, and that deal is due to end in March this year. It was reported last year that Sony was already considering cutting Gottwald loose, although this was refuted by his lawyers at the time.
This is an issue because, while Sony has been embroiled in this dispute, Sebert's deals all filter through to the major via Gottwald's companies. She does not have a direct relationship with Sony itself.
"The end of this contract means that Sony may no longer have any role in the creation of Kesha's music, leaving Kesha's livelihood in the hands of a person aiming to bankrupt her and her family through litigation, cutting off her legitimately earned income, and personally humiliating her as he has done for years", says Sebert's claim. "Without the court's intervention and Sony's facilitation, Kesha will remain contractually bound to Dr Luke until she releases three additional albums, each containing six songs produced individually by Dr Luke, no matter how many years that takes".
With a New York judge already saying that releasing Sebert from her record deal early would undermine New York contract law, her legal team have now thrown California's 'seven year rule' into the mix. This allows 'personal services' contracts to be ended after seven years, and has been employed - both successfully and unsuccessfully - by numerous artists in the past.
Whether or not this case comes under the jurisdiction of Californian law has already played a part in the proceedings - an LA judge ruling that the case should be heard in New York back in 2015. The contracts at the heart of the dispute were written under New York law, though Kemosabe Records is based in California, and Sebert and Gottwald's collaborations were centreed there, hence the claim that the courts should also consider the former's rights under Californian employment law.
"To also deny Kesha the protection of California labour law - because of choice-of-law provisions in the [Dr Luke] contracts designed to rob Kesha of her rights under the California Labour Code - would leave Kesha without labour protections and be fundamentally unjust", say her lawyers. "The court should thus apply basic choice-of-law principles and apply California's seven year rule".
Gottwald's updated counterclaim holds its position that the abuse allegations against him are fabricated, and now says that Sebert and her mother have "embarked on a conscious and co-ordinated effort to 'blacklist'" him from the music industry. His legal team have previously accused the pair of operating a "co-ordinated campaign to mislead the public". Now, among other accusations, it is suggested that petitions set up to pressure Sony Music to release the singer from her contract last year were "bogus".
The more headline-grabbing new claim, though, is that Sebert told Lady Gaga via text message that Gottwald had raped another big name popstar. The SMS conversation allegedly occurred shortly after Kesha lost her attempt to gain the injunction freeing her from her record deal.
"During this text message conversation, Kesha falsely and baselessly asserted that Kesha and another female recording artist (the 'Other Recording Artist') had both been raped by Gottwald", says Gottwald's claim. "Specifically, Kesha told Lady Gaga that 'she was raped by the same man' as Kesha. The 'man' to whom Kesha referred was Gottwald - as the surrounding context of the text message makes clear. Kesha's assertions to Lady Gaga were completely false. Gottwald did not rape Kesha, and he did not rape the Other Recording Artist".
The amendment then returns to the original claim that this whole matter is the result of a contractual dispute, accusing Sebert of "acting in bad faith".
She is, say the lawyers "attempting to force [Gottwald's company] KMI into a purported breach of its obligations to furnish Kesha's services to Kemosabe Records. Kesha further breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing by attempting to establish a direct contractual relationship with Kemosabe Records, thereby forcing out KMI and depriving it of the benefit of its bargain as the contractual furnisher of Kesha's recording services to Kemosabe Records".
In a new statement, Gottwald's lawyer Christine Lepera said yesterday: "Dr Luke seeks to add an additional defamation claim against Kesha based upon the discovery of another false and defamatory statement she made about him that was part of her calculated effort to harm his reputation and business. Kesha's new proposed counterclaim simply repeats the meritless and untrue allegations that were set forth in her earlier pleadings and which Dr Luke fully disputes".
Both updated counterclaims still need to be court approved. Meanwhile both Sebert and Gottwald will provide new depositions in the next week, while Gottwald is providing documentation to support his claim that his career has been harmed by the ongoing legal battle.
50 Cent sues former lawyers over sex tape case
So, 50 Cent reckons that his former lawyers Reed Smith, and in particular attorney Peter Raymond, bungled his legal battle with Lastonia Leviston who, you might remember, sued the rapper after he posted online a sex tape in which she appeared. He did so because she was the mother of the child of Rick Ross, with whom he was feuding at the time.
The Leviston litigation resulted in 50 Cent declaring himself bankrupt, though the bankruptcy didn't - as he'd hoped - put the sex tape lawsuit on hold. A court then ordered him to pay Leviston $7 million in damages.
In his new lawsuit, which is seeking up to $32 million in damages, 50 Cent - real name Curtis Jackson - alleges that he was badly advised by Raymond, including in regard to the decision to declare bankruptcy. According to The Wrap, his new lawsuit alleges that: "Reed Smith and Raymond did not follow established legal standards in representing Jackson in the Leviston case by failing to provide effective representation and conduct proper pre-trial and trial preparation prior to the Leviston trial".
The litigation adds that "their lack of effective representation and inadequate pre-trial preparation and preparation for trial caused Jackson to retain new counsel on the eve of trial". And that, the rapper reckons, hindered his ability to fight the case against him.
Commenting on the new litigation - and presumably also alluding to last year's dispute with law firm Garvey Schubert Barer, which was settled - 50 Cent's current legal rep, Arthur L Aidala of Baratta Baratta & Aidala LLP, told Billboard: "Unfortunately, this is not the first time Mr Jackson has been required to commence litigation in connection with the past administration of his legal matters. While it would have been preferable to resolve this dispute privately and amicably, he felt it necessary to pursue this matter further. Mr Jackson is fully confident that all claims will be resolved in his favour in the near future".
Sweden considering tougher sentences for rampant pirates
Sweden, home to both Spotify and The Pirate Bay of course, is reviewing its copyright regime, and that includes considering giving police more power to tackle large-scale online piracy set-ups, and increasing the sentences for people convicted of running them.
In the UK, ministers have recently moved to bring sentences for those running large-scale online piracy operations in line with the jail terms that can be given to people convicted of running CD or DVD bootlegging businesses. Which means a maximum potential sentence of ten instead of two years.
It also means that prosecutors can push for a longer jail term for those running piracy websites under copyright law, without having to construct a case for fraud, which has always allowed tougher sentencing.
Confirming the Swedish government's review of copyright laws, a legal adviser at the country's Department Of Justice, Anna Enbert, is quoted by Torrentfreak as saying: "With the help of well-organised sites, infringement is made fast, easy, and both openly and more or less anonymous. Not infrequently, there is a business motive for the major players, which is roughly comparable to organised crime".
Defining large-scale online piracy as organised crime could, in itself, increase police powers and potential penalties. A police spokesman in the country, Paul Pintér, speaking to local media IDG, said that such a reclassification would give law enforcement "a whole new toolkit". While of the copyright review, he added: "In the terms of reference for the inquiry, the government mentions almost all of the points that we have previously proposed".
While it was in Sweden that the original founders of The Pirate Bay were successfully prosecuted for copyright infringement, with all three eventually serving some jail time, Swedish copyright law hasn't always helped rights owners and the authorities in their battle with online piracy. For example, attempts to seize The Pirate Bay's primary .se domain have been unsuccessful.
Rights owners and police, therefore, are pleased about the Swedish government's current review, and the proposals that may come out of it, though the inquiry isn't due to report until this time next year, so any new anti-piracy measures aren't likely to become law for sometime yet.
Russian government proposes one collective licensing body across Eurasian Economic Union
As previously reported, with various scandals occurring around the music community's collecting societies in Russia, and in particular the song rights society RAO, some in the country have been advocating a government agency taking over the collective licensing of music rights. That agency would replace RAO, the record industry's VOIS, and RSP, which administers a private copy levy.
Many in the music community - both in Russia and abroad - oppose that plan, with some suggesting it could breach international copyright treaties. Though late last year the RAO did propose that a government-owned media organisation take control of the organisation.
Either way, talk of government-led collective licensing in Russia continues. And now, according to Billboard, the Russian culture ministry has proposed that that new government-led rights body could also handle collective licensing in other countries that are part of the Eurasian Economic Union, which are the former Soviet states Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Russia
The culture ministry has suggested that the multi-territory rights body could "combine national collecting societies and develop uniform standards for their operation, management and control over their observance". The latter proposal - ie an EEU body regulating collective licensing - would have some parallels with the regulation of collective licensing in the European Union via European law, though a multi-territory statutory body that actually did the licensing would be something different.
That said, while the music community - certainly abroad - remains uneasy about the idea of the Russian government getting involved in royalty collections, given that collective licensing is nominal or non-existent in the other EEU states, some sort of new royalty regime in those countries might be a positive step, if the monies actually reached creators and rights owners.
Randy Jackson joins Faction
Faction is the artist management services business set up by INgrooves founder Robb McDaniels in 2015, last seen announcing an alliance with Kobalt. The firm says it now has 25 artist managers operating under its umbrella, with younger managers Ethan Geltzer and Jeff DeLia also announced as part of the party this week.
Confirming his involvement, Jackson said: "I worked closely with Robb for several years when he was running INgrooves, and was impressed by the forward-thinking, service-oriented approach he built at that company. The world of talent management needed a similar approach and solution to help us all adapt to the realities and opportunities of the global marketplace, and Faction delivers the goods".
John Wetton dies
Wetton had a prolific career, with many different band and solo projects. However, he is perhaps best known for appearing on three King Crimson albums in the early 1970s, and for fronting supergroup Asia in the 1980s - rejoining the band in 2006 to the present day.
Earlier in January, Wetton announced that he would not be joining Asia for a number of live dates "on the advice of my medical team".
A new Asia live album, 'Symfonia - Live In Bulgaria 2013', was already planned for release on 24 Feb prior to Wetton's death. Announcing that in December, he said: "The show in the glorious Roman Theater of Plovdiv, with orchestra, along with the massive Sweden Rock Festival and the shows in the UK and the European tour thereafter, were the first dates of the new chapter of Asia and in my opinion, the band has never sounded better".
Bob Dylan announces new triple album of classic American songs
Split into three discs - either virtual, CD or vinyl - each is "to be presented in a thematically-arranged ten song sequence, illuminating compositions from great American songwriters interpreted by Dylan through his artistry as a vocalist, arranger and bandleader". So now you know.
Composers including Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, and Harold Hupfield. The first single is Carl Sigman and Jimmy Van Heusen's 'I Could Have Told You', made famous by Frank Sinatra.
With that out of the way, will Dylan go and give his Nobel prize speech? Who knows? Probably not, I guess.
Mac DeMarco announces "not really acoustic album"
The sound of the album - something of a departure from DeMarco's previous work - was shaped by a move from New York to LA. "I demoed a full album [in New York], and as I was moving to the West Coast I thought I'd get to finishing it quickly", he says. "But then I realised that moving to a new city, and starting a new life takes time. Usually I just write, record, and put it out; no problem. But this time, I wrote them and they sat. When that happens, you really get to know the songs. It was a different vibe".
"The majority of this album is acoustic guitar, synthesiser, some drum machine, and one song is electric guitar", he continues. "So this is a new thing for me. This is my acoustic album, but it's not really an acoustic album at all. That's just what it feels like, mostly. I'm Italian, so I guess this is an Italian rock record".
He also has a few live dates in the UK booked in this year. Here are those:
30 May: London, Brixton Academy
Missy Elliott, Devlin, Father John Misty, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Missy Elliott's new single, 'I'm Better', now has a video.
• Devlin has released new single, 'Blow Your Mind', featuring Maverick Sabre. His new album, 'The Devil In', is due out next week.
• Father John Misty has released 'Two Wildly Different Perspectives', from his new album 'Pure Comedy', which is out on 7 Apr.
• John Talabot and Axel Boman have announced that they will release the first album from their Talaboman project, 'The Night land', on 3 Mar. Here's a video representation of this information.
• Adna has released new single 'Thoughts'. Her new album, 'Closure', is due out in March.
Section Boyz tell Daily Mail to "fix up" after photo mix up
The Australian side of Mail Online has run a number of stories about Melbourne's Apex gang over the last year, and this is seemingly not the first time Section Boyz have appeared in one of those articles. In a new report earlier this week, the newspaper used a picture of the group sitting on a London bus - though blurred out their faces.
The ABC TV network's 'Media Watch' show tweeted about the error, saying: "Hey Daily Mail - your Apex gang pic is actually a UK rap band. Which we also we told you about last November".
The photo has now been removed, but the group are not pleased about the use of their image, or the way in which the Mail has reported on the gang, tweeting directly to the publication saying: "We are not happy with the way you have used our popular picture to slander another group that has nothing to do with us. Fix up".
The Daily Mail has not responded.