For years, Kesha has been fighting an ongoing legal battle against Dr. Luke and Sony. She claims that the producer "sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally" abused her starting when she was just 18 years old. Since filing her first suit in 2014, she's been attempting to break free of her contract with Sony Records, which currently stipulates that she must record her next six albums with her alleged rapist. Last month, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled against Kesha, saying that Sony would suffer "irreparable harm" if the singer were allowed to break her contract.
This decision—and the haunting images of Kesha sobbing in the court room as it was issued—infuriated her fans and supporters around the globe and elicited criticism from fellow pop stars, including Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Kelly Clarkson, as well as her label mate Adele, who, while accepting her Brit award in February, said, "I would like to take this moment to publicly support Kesha."
Read More: How Pop Stars Reacted to Kesha's Lawsuit
According to an insider, Sony's decision to part ways with Dr. Luke is not all that surprising. "Kesha has no case in regards to her contract, but they can't afford the Adeles of the world out in the streets calling the label unsupportive," the insider told TheWrap. "The fact that this hasn't already been taken care of with Luke is confusing, especially for people in the building."
We pledged not to stop fighting until Kesha was free, and Sony cutting ties with Dr. Luke means our movement has left its mark.
Of course, it wasn't merely the Adeles of the world who lambasted the record label as unsupportive: On Twitter, the #FreeKesha movement raged against the record label for its inaction. (Dr. Luke has vehemently denied Kesha's claims, and his lawyers released a statement accusing her of conducting "a trial by Twitter, using a vicious smear campaign to ruin his reputation.") A petition on Care2 titled "#FreeKesha! Tell Sony Not to Force Her to Work With Her Alleged Abuser" garnered nearly 230,000 signatures, and, offline, protesters gathered outside Sony's New York headquarters loudly demanding that the company allow the singer to leave her contract with her alleged rapist.
Kesha's fans are overjoyed at today's report. "I could not be happier and applaud Sony for finally answering the calls of the millions who urged their company to show they value the well-being of an artist over profit," Michael Eisele, the Care2 petition organizer who has been active in organizing #FreeKesha protests both online and offline, told Broadly over email. "We pledged not to stop fighting until Kesha was free, and Sony cutting ties with Dr. Luke means our movement has left its mark."
Over 100 #FreeKesha protesters had been planning to march on the Sony headquarters on Friday. According to a statement released by Eisele, the protest will still take place—"this time as a thank-you to the company for taking the opportunity to stand with a woman who has fought so hard for her creative freedom."
Sony's alleged decision isn't merely a victory for Kesha fans: According to Shaunna Thomas, a co-founder of UltraViolet, a feminist advocacy group, it "sends a clear signal throughout the music industry that rape and sexual violence will not be tolerated."
It's not totally clear how Sony and Dr. Luke will end their relationship—and Dr. Luke's legal team denies that the split will even take place (see update). A second source told TheWrap that, since Dr. Luke has never been convicted by a court, "there may not be any legal basis to terminate an agreement. It would have to be mutual." According to a statement from Care2, the decision will ultimately fall on both Dr. Luke and CEO Doug Morris and his boss, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.
Still, fans are beyond excited at the prospect of Kesha's hard-won freedom. "Music fans, recording artists, and UltraViolet members praise this tremendous decision and look forward to hearing Kesha's latest hits knowing that she can record them without being under the thumb of her abuser," said Thomas.
Update: Dr. Luke's lawyers have denied that Sony plans to drop the producer. "Luke has an excellent relationship with Sony. His representatives are in regular contact with executives at the highest levels at Sony and this has never come up," one of Dr. Luke's attorneys told EW. Sony declined to comment.