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Australian Courts Approve Music Licensing Fee Hike

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On May 17, the Australian Copyright Tribunal voted to increase rates paid by fitness facilities for licensed music used in fitness classes. The new fee structure requires facilities to pay $15 (AUS) per class, or $1 (AUS) per participant ($0.866 [U.S.] at time of reporting); previously, gyms paid $0.97 (AUS) per class. The request was filed by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA), a nonprofit organization that provides nonexclusive licenses for protection of sound recordings and music videos.

“Today’s decision by the independent umpire represents an important improvement for artists and labels whose music is widely used in fitness classes to attract and motivate participants,” stated PPCA chief executive Stephen Peach in a press release. “The Tribunal has recognized the previous scheme undervalued the undoubted contribution music makes to the fitness industry.”

Ryan Hogan, IDEA member and membership and sales manager for the Australian Fitness Network, believes the tariff will do more harm than good. “I think that for most facilities, the new cost is simply not possible to absorb.” For example, an average-sized facility that offers 30 classes per week will need to pay about $23,400 (AUS) per year for music by the original artists. Before the hike, the annual fee was capped at $2,654.

However, many gyms have begun to look to alternate—and less costly—sources of music. “Most of the music providers have anticipated this happening and have compiled a catalog of royalty-free music,” says Hogan. He adds that not just fitness facilities will be affected. Anyone who plays music for the purpose of group exercise, including independent outdoor boot camp instructors, must pay. “The sad thing is that it could set a serious precedent for the rest of the world as well.&rdquo

What do you think? Is this music tarif warranted? Send your response to [email protected]

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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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