Victory for electrical retailers over store music appeal

Action by a coalition of organisations, including retra, the electrical retailers association, has led to an appeal court defeat for the company that licences playing music in shops.

This defeat marks a landmark victory for retailers, and will lead to collective savings of £5 million a year, and paybacks of £20 million of excessive charges paid by retailers over the last five years.

Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) lost its appeal against a ruling made by the Copyright Council last October. The original case found that licence fee increases imposed by the PPL were excessive.

The result of this appeal affects all shops and businesses that play recorded music, and so have to pay a licence fee, which is collected by PPL on behalf of record companies.

A legal battle over these charges began after PPL dramatically increased the charges, leading to some retailers seeing their fee double in price. retra joined forces with a collective of organisations, individual retailers and in-store music suppliers, including the British Retail Consortium and Association of Convenience Stores, to fight this increase.

Bryan Lovewell, Chief Executive of retra, says: “The result of this appeal is a victory for all retailers, and the fight was definitely worth it! It is crucial that electrical retailers are able to play music in their stores, particularly when demonstrating audio/visual products, and the increase in rates was just too expensive for many, particularly smaller retailers.

“We are pleased that we were able to be part of the coalition that took legal action, and would like to thank the other organisations and retailers that were part of the group. We hope that all parties will be happy with the new rate.”


22nd February 2010

Editors Notes

In 2008 PPL collected £127.6 million in fees from UK businesses of all types.  Around £11 million of this is believed to be from retailers.

Pending the outcome of the appeal, businesses have continued to pay the licence fees at the high rate which has now been confirmed as excessive. Following today’s appeal defeat, new fee rates will immediately apply and businesses are entitled to back-dated refunds of their previous overpayments.

At the same time as the huge licence fee increases were imposed in 2005 the rules were changed so that PPL gained the power to require businesses to have a PPL licence for simply playing television or radio in their premises. (This had not previously required a PPL licence so had attracted no charge). This resulted in even bigger cost increases for some retailers.

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