Commitments and Contingencies
|6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2023
|Commitments and Contingencies
(8) Commitments and Contingencies
In connection with agreements for the sale of assets by the Company or its subsidiaries, the Company may retain liabilities that relate to events occurring prior to its sale, such as tax, environmental, litigation and employment matters. The Company generally indemnifies the purchaser in the event that a third party asserts a claim against the purchaser that relates to a liability retained by the Company. These types of indemnification obligations may extend for a number of years. The Company is unable to estimate the maximum potential liability for these types of indemnification obligations as the sale agreements may not specify a maximum amount and the amounts are dependent upon the outcome of future contingent events, the nature and likelihood of which cannot be determined at this time. Historically, the Company has not made any significant indemnification payments under such agreements and no amount has been accrued in the accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements with respect to these indemnification guarantees.
Long-term employment contracts provide for, among other items, annual compensation for certain Atlanta Braves players (current and former) and other employees. Amounts due under such contracts as of June 30, 2023 aggregated $1,017 million, which is payable annually as follows: $226 million in 2023, $150 million in 2024, $143 million in 2025, $136 million in 2026, $111 million in 2027 and $251 million thereafter. In addition to the foregoing amounts, certain players, coaches and executives may earn incentive compensation under the terms of their employment contracts.
Sirius XM Holdings Restructuring
During the six months ended June 30, 2023, Sirius XM Holdings initiated measures to pursue greater efficiency and to realign its business and focus on strategic priorities. As part of these measures, Sirius XM Holdings reduced the size of its workforce by approximately 475 roles, or 8%, and recorded charges of $5 million and $28 million during the three and six months ended June 30, 2023, respectively, primarily related to severance and other related costs. Sirius XM Holdings also recorded impairments of $10 million and $13 million during the three and six months ended June 30, 2023, respectively, primarily related to terminated software projects. In addition, Sirius XM Holdings vacated one of its leased locations and recorded an impairment of $5 million to reduce the carrying value of the related right of use asset to its estimated fair value and accrued expenses of $2 million for which it will not recognize any future economic benefits during the six months ended June 30, 2023. These charges were recorded to impairment, restructuring and acquisition costs, net of recoveries in the condensed consolidated statements of operations.
The Company has contingent liabilities related to legal and tax proceedings and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business. Although it is reasonably possible the Company may incur losses upon conclusion of such matters, an estimate of any loss or range of loss cannot be made. In the opinion of management, it is expected that amounts, if any, which may be required to satisfy such contingencies will not be material in relation to the accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements.
Pre-1972 Sound Recording Litigation. On October 2, 2014, Flo & Eddie Inc. filed a class action suit against Pandora in the federal district court for the Central District of California. The complaint alleges a violation of California Civil Code Section 980, unfair competition, misappropriation and conversion in connection with the public performance of sound recordings recorded prior to February 15, 1972 (“pre-1972 recordings”). On December 19, 2014, Pandora filed a motion to strike the complaint pursuant to California’s Anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“anti-SLAPP”) statute, which following denial of Pandora’s motion was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2017, the Ninth Circuit requested certification to the California Supreme Court on the substantive legal questions. The California Supreme Court accepted certification. In May 2019, the California Supreme Court issued an order dismissing consideration of the certified questions on the basis that, following the enactment of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, Pub. L. No. 115-264, 132 Stat. 3676 (2018) (the “MMA”), resolution of the questions posed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was no longer “necessary to . . . settle an important question of law.”
The MMA grants a potential federal preemption defense to the claims asserted in the aforementioned lawsuits. In July 2019, Pandora took steps to avail itself of this preemption defense, including making the required payments under the MMA for certain of its uses of pre-1972 recordings. Based on the federal preemption contained in the MMA (along with other considerations), Pandora asked the Ninth Circuit to order the dismissal of the Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Pandora Media, Inc. case. On October 17, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a memorandum disposition concluding that the question of whether the MMA preempts Flo and Eddie's claims challenging Pandora's performance of pre-1972 recordings "depends on various unanswered factual questions" and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings.
In October 2020, the District Court denied Pandora’s renewed motion to dismiss the case under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, finding the case no longer qualified for anti-SLAPP due to intervening changes in the law, and denied Pandora’s renewed attempt to end the case. Alternatively, the District Court ruled that the preemption defense likely did not apply to Flo & Eddie’s claims, in part because the District Court believed that the MMA did not apply retroactively. Pandora promptly appealed the District Court’s decision to the Ninth Circuit, and moved to stay appellate briefing pending the appeal of a related case against SiriusXM. On January 13, 2021, the Ninth Circuit issued an order granting the stay of appellate proceedings pending the resolution of a related case against SiriusXM.
On August 23, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an Opinion in a related case, Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. The related case also concerned a class action suit brought by Flo & Eddie Inc. regarding the public performance of pre-1972 recordings under California law. Relying on California’s copyright statute, Flo & Eddie argued that California law gave it the “exclusive ownership” of its pre-1972 songs, including the right of public performance. The Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s grant of partial summary judgment to Flo & Eddie Inc. The Ninth Circuit held that the District Court in this related case erred in concluding that “exclusive ownership” under California’s copyright statute included the right of public performance. The Ninth Circuit remanded the case for entry of judgment consistent with the terms of the parties’ contingent settlement agreement, and on October 6, 2021, the parties to the related case stipulated to its dismissal with prejudice. The Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. decision is precedential in the Ninth Circuit, and therefore Sirius XM Holdings believes substantially narrows the claims that Flo & Eddie may continue to assert against Pandora.
Following issuance of the Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc. opinion, on September 3, 2021, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay of appellate proceedings in Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Pandora Media, LLC. Pandora promptly filed an appeal of the District Court’s order denying the renewed motion to dismiss the case under California’s anti-SLAAP statute.
On June 2, 2022, the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court’s order denying dismissal of the case under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, finding that Pandora had failed to demonstrate that Flo & Eddie’s claims arise from Pandora’s protected conduct. As part of the decision, the Ninth Circuit noted that Pandora had forcefully argued that the Court’s decision in Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., and other decisions under New York, Florida and Georgia law, foreclosed Flo & Eddie’s claims as a matter of law. Because the case has been pending for over seven years, the Ninth Circuit remanded the case to the District Court and directed “the district court to consider expedited motions practice on the legal validity of Flo & Eddie’s claims in light of the intervening precedent.”
On September 29, 2022, Flo & Eddie filed an Amended Complaint, and on October 13, 2022, Pandora filed an Answer to the Amended Complaint. In accordance with the directive of the Ninth Circuit, in November 2022, Pandora filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in this action. Following oral argument, on July 25, 2023, the Court granted Pandora’s Motion for Summary Judgment, and by order closed this action. The time for Flo & Eddie to file an appeal of the order granting Summary Judgment in favor of Pandora has not expired.