Ke$ha says former manager acted as unlicen$ed talent agent

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Ke$ha says former manager acted as unlicen$ed talent agent

Mon Oct 04, 2010 @ 07:48PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Kesha EXCLUSIVE: Pop star Ke$ha has dropped a powerful legal bomb on a former manager who is suing her for $14 million in allegedly unpaid commissions.

In a move that will not be a surprise to lawyers familiar with talent/management disputes, the "Tik Tok" songstress is asking the California Labor Commissioner to declare her contract with DAS Communications void because it acted as an unlicensed talent agent while representing her. That's a big no-no in California, where only registered (and regulated) agents can "procure" work for clients, and the punishment for violating the Talent Agencies Act can be severe.

Ke$ha (real name: Kesha Rose Sebert; we can barely bring ourselves to type the dollar sign) was sued in New York in May for allegedly breaching a 2006 deal to pay New York-based DAS and principal David Sonenberg 20% of her music earnings. The singer later left DAS and hired RCA/Jive Record Group to represent her, according to the lawsuit. At issue is whether DAS is entitled to commissions from Ke$ha's lucrative deal with Warner Bros. Records, among other things.

The singer fired back at the lawsuit in August with a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that she was well within her rights to fire the management company. And now she is moving the fight to California, where she is alleging tons of acts of "procurement," including singing engagements, songwriting gigs and even performing at house parties.

The Talent Agencies Act is a particularly fierce weapon when deployed against managers, and even the smallest acts of procurement can cause a management agreement to be voided. The law was weakened a few years ago by the California Supreme Court, which questioned whether a single act of procurement should void an entire deal. But in this case, Ke$ha is alleging that her managers procured tons of gigs.

More importantly, the underlying litigation often will be stalled (sometimes for years) as the Labor Commissioner takes his time reviewing whether a manager acted unlawfully. We expect to see Ke$ha's lawyers file a motion to halt the case in New York while the TAA issues are resolved in Calfornia. If the court there agrees to stay the case, DAS could see a lot of tik-toks before it has its day in court.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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