The hospitality industry stands to save £5m a year on the costs of playing music, as well as sharing in refunds of up to £20m from royalties collection body PPL, after a ruling from the copyright tribunal.
In the long-running copyright dispute, the tribunal decision on the tariffs for the playing of music in public areas in pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels will see the charges reduced dramatically, in some cases by nearly 80% - pending a PPL appeal.
The decision marks a major victory for the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) which took action against PPL after the body raised the tariffs for playing music by as much as 400% in 2005/6.
In October 2005, the BHA and the BBPA persuaded the Government to refer the tariff to the tribunal, but a first hearing in November 2007 led to an appeal on jurisdiction issues to the High Court last October, which was also won by the two bodies.
In recognition of the trade associations having been successful on the substantive matter of the value of the tariffs, the copyright tribunal said that they were "clear winners" in the case and awarded them 50% of their costs.
The new tariffs will now be brought into effect as soon as possible and implemented upon renewal of PPL licences. The tribunal has allowed PPL only a 10% all round increase plus inflation.
The tribunal also ordered PPL to refund the excess fees that have been charged since 2005, up to an estimated £20m.
Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive said: "This is a major victory for the industry - not to mention the fully justified prospect of refunds for overpayments in recent years."
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, added: "This successful result shows how much time and effort the industry needs to spend when it fights damaging decisions made by public monopolies. The fact that the tribunal says we are the clear winners shows how justified we were to fight the case."
Fran Nevrkla, chairman and chief executive of PPL, said the body was "extremely disappointed" by the decision and said it would be appealing to the High Court.
By Daniel Thomas
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