Australian neighboring rights body PPCA must now sweat on its fitness industry tariff after the Federal Court sent the case back to the Copyright Tribunal for a redetermination.
After a bruising battle, the Tribunal on May 17 applied a massive new rise to the PPCA tariff, which covers use of its music in gym classes. The new fee rose to $1 Australian ($0.83) for each gym class attendee or an optional tariff of $15 Australian ($12.44) per class -- an increase of more than 1,500%.
Through the trade association Fitness Australia, the country's fitness club operators rubbished the unpopular tariff and members warned they would simply reject playing PPCA-licensed tunes in their classes.
Market-leading chain Fitness First Australia led the revolt, and from June 1 went 100% PPCA-free across all its 93 sites. At the time, FFA's managing director Peter Stirling Benson said, "the PPCA have just shot themselves in the foot."
Today, the Federal Court found the Copyright Tribunal had conducted itself in a way which was "procedurally unfair to Fitness Australia".
Not surprisingly, Fitness Australia is celebrating a battle won. "Fitness Australia has always maintained that this economic modeling and valuation study was seriously flawed and that was the basis of our case in response", FA CEO Lauretta Stace says.
The court's decision, adds Stace, "validates the strong response by Fitness Australia against an unfair and unreasonable proposal."
The PPCA, meanwhile, reckons the "billion-dollar-a-year" fitness business should pay a fair price for licensed music and the society is ready for another fight. In a statement, PPCA CEO Dan Rosen says the society will "consider its position" following the judgment but "will not step away from securing a fair price for its members."
Rosen adds, "Artists and labels deserve a fair return when their music is used as a resource in commercial businesses and are currently being significantly underpaid by the fitness industry."
It's unclear when the Copyright Tribunal will make its final decision on the tariff.