Hotels, restaurants and pubs who paid over the odds for music licences have been told they will get refunds after a tribunal decision found that tariffs had been set too high.
At a hearing for the Copyright Tribunal last week, the end of a long-running dispute between the industry and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), who sets and collects fees for companies playing background music, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the British Beer & Pub Association pressed for refunds to be given out.
Today the Tribunal agreed with the BHA and BBPA and told PPL to make interest-free refunds over £50 to all businesses due to them. However, PPL will appeal the decision in the High Court.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “It’s been a long struggle but worth it, given today's total victory.
“We will be doing everything we can to ensure that any appeal case is heard quickly, so that the matter of repayments can be settled as soon as possible."
The trade bodies estimate that since the fees changed in 2005, pubs, restaurants and hotels have paid up to £20m more than they should. This new ruling will save the industry up to £5m a year.
Venues playing background music saw their licence fees rise between 200 and 400 per cent in 2005 when PPL decided to limit the Copyright Tribunal’s jurisdiction to broadcast music only and have a separate Tribunal for non-broadcast music.
Under the Tribunal’s ruling, fees will now be cut by more than half with a hotel, pub or restaurant playing background music within an audible area of just under 400 square metres paying £110 this year compared to £464.80 under PPL’s raised tariff.
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."