Music on Hold: Federal Court overturns decision to increase fitness class music fees

In May, we reported on the Copyright Tribunal’s decision to increase the licence fees paid to the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) for music in group fitness classes: http://blogs.mallesons.com/ipwhiteboard/ppca-flexes-music-muscles  Today, the Federal Court set aside this decision, on the basis that it lacked procedural fairness, and has remitted the matter back to the Copyright Tribunal for a re-determination.  If you’re looking for an interesting new slant to your Christmas party conversations, here is a cheat sheet on the decision.
 
Who is the PPCA? The PPCA is a national, non-profit organisation, which collects licence fees for things like sound recordings and music videos, on behalf of copyright owners and Australian recording artists registered with PPCA.
 
So, what’s this about? The rate currently paid by fitness centre operators is currently 96.8 cents per class.  This led to a two year consultation process by the PPCA designed to lead to a fee increase. The Copyright Tribunal agreed this should happen, and increased the fee to $15 per class. [That’s 1,500% people.]
 
What happened then?  Well, we don’t have all the details yet, but the Federal Court has overturned this decision.  The PPCA points out that the Court hasn’t found that fee increase was unwarranted.  Rather, the matter has been sent back to be re-considered.
 
How does everyone feel about this?  Both the PPCA and Fitness Australia have come out today armed with their respective press releases.  The PPCA has some great quotes from various musicians in support of increased fees.  We like best:
 
I do think that if it’s a gym fitness class with 100 people in it and they’re doing 10 classes a day and our music is an integral part of their class then they should be paying for it.  After all, they don’t get their steppers or their beanbags for free.” [Julian Hamilton, The Presets] [ed: Julian’s sounding very rock n’roll here.  Doesn’t sound like he’s a big gym attendee].
 
At the end of the day it’s the artists that write and record the music and they should get paid for it.  We’re a long way behind the rest of the world…  I’m a member of Fitness First and I know how much they charge a month so I think they should pay for it.” [Pat Cleary, Manager Rogue Traders]
 
Fitness Australia has some great messages too, focussing on the Federal Government’s fight against obesity theme: “This decision will ensure that gyms, fitness and recreation centres remain viable and affordable for all Australians, helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle”, said Lauretta Stace, the Chief Executive of Fitness Australia.
 
Next steps?  Any licence fee increase will remain on hold until the matter is decided again.

One Reply to “Music on Hold: Federal Court overturns decision to increase fitness class music fees”

  1. $15 is outrageous! It would be cheaper to go to iTunes and buy each song each time for each and every class!

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