Retailers win back fees in music licensing battle 

Retailers who play background music in their stores will be able to reclaim up to £20m in overpaid fees after an appeal from the music licensing body PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) was rejected by the high court.

The Copyright Tribunal originally ruled in favour of shops and other interested parties in October 2009 over PPL, which previously raised tariffs for music shops raise by up to 192% and tariffs for pubs and restaurants by up to 419%.

However, PPL appealed this decision and the case was sent to the High Court.

The Hon Mr Justice Arnold once again ruled in favour of a consortium of business, including the ACS (Association of Conveninece Stores) and rejected all points raised by PPL.

As a result, PPL will have to refund all retailers who have overpaid for their license since 2005. The new tariffs will be measured by square metres on a banding system, bringing significant cost reductions for local shops.

The new rates will be based on 2005 levels plus an inflation based increase.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “We are delighted that the High Court has recognised the unsustainable increases that PPL have tried to inflict on our members and the hospitality industry. We now hope that PPL will act quickly to refund those license payers who paid over the odds to offer background music to their customers in stores.

“We are very pleased to have supported this case and in doing so have helped secure significant re-payments and future savings for our members.”

ACS will be briefing members in due course on how they can reclaim their overpaid fees.