The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia has out-muscled the country's fitness industry as a long-running battle over music fees comes to a conclusion.

Australia's Copyright Tribunal today (May 17) ruled in favor of the PPCA and approved steep new rates for the use of music in fitness classes.

After hearing a bruising volley of evidence last year which spanned almost six weeks, the Copyright Tribunal today set a new rate of $1 Australian ($0.87) for each fitness class attendee or $15 Australian ($13.17) per class - up more than 1,500% from the current rate of $0.968 Australian which was capped at an annual maximum of $2,654 Australian ($2,328). The gym has the choice of either option.

In its judgment, the Tribunal today said the recorded music was an "essential accompaniment" to commercial fitness class, and until now copyright owners had not been adequately rewarded.

Users of recordings in fitness classes "should pay an amount that reflects the value of music to such classes," the Tribunal ruled.

The PPCA was understandably thrilled with its victory and the financial windfall it represents. Today's decision strikes "an important improvement for artists and labels," explains PPCA's outgoing CEO Stephen Peach.

But the fitness industry won't take it lying down. Trade association Fitness Australia has vowed to source music from alternative sources.

"The international record companies, who are represented by the PPCA, have shot themselves in the foot by demanding outrageously high copyright licensing fees from the fitness industry, the majority of which go straight into record company coffers," says Fitness Australia CEO Lauretta Stace. "To mitigate the impact of such a decision, Fitness Australia members are already beginning to use music in their gyms that is free of PPCA copyright."

According to Fitness Australia, today's decision represents an annual cost increase from the current $1,510 Australian ($1,325) per year to $23,400 Australian ($20,550) per year for an average-size fitness center with 1,500 members and running 30 fitness classes each week.

Fitness Australia says its legal advisers are currently reviewing the Tribunal decision to determine whether there are grounds for appeal.