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PPCA Hails Copyright Tribunal Decision On Music License Fees

by Mary Swire, for, Hong Kong

16 July 2007

A decision handed down last week by the Australian Copyright Tribunal has been welcomed by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA).

The Tribunal approved an application by the PPCA for an increase in music licence fees paid to artists and record labels by dedicated nightclub venues and commercially organised dance parties.

In the first comprehensive review of this tariff ever undertaken by the Copyright Tribunal, the Tribunal lifted rates for licensed sound recordings played in nightclubs from 7 cents per person to AU$1.05 per person. The dance party rate rises from 20 cents to AU$3.07 cents per person.

The decision follows a two week long hearing before the Tribunal (headed by a Federal Court judge) which heard expert economic evidence on the value of the licensed music played in nightclubs and at dance parties.

The Tribunal found that:

"The object of the tribunal in approving the proposed scheme is to fix upon a licence fee that can be regarded, as nearly as it is possible to estimate, on the basis of the evidence …as the fair market price for the privilege of playing the recorded music in respect of which (PPCA) is able to grant a licence. If it be the fact that the market rate is 30 times the rate that has hitherto been charged, that is no reason why it should not now charge that rate.”

Responding to the decision, PPCA Board member and musician Paul Christie observed that:

“An increase in these tariffs is long overdue and will help compensate artists who create the product which is the foundation of the nightclub and dance party industries. Artists are entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and this will go some way towards compensating us for our creative output.”

PPCA Chief Executive Stephen Peach added that:

“The music is the key to attracting patrons and driving revenue in these venues. The Tribunal has recognised its important role and accepted our evidence in support of a rate rise.”

The move has, unsurprisingly, caused outrage amongst nightclub and other music venue owners, some of whom have warned that they will need to increase the amounts that they charge club patrons in order to absorb the increase.

The new rates will not affect community events, weddings or family functions.

PPCA is a national, non-profit organisation established in 1969 to provide non-exclusive licences for the public performance and broadcasting of protected sound recordings and music videos.

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