A legal victory for retailers has raised the prospect of a £20m refund to the industry after a ruling that increased copyright fees for playing music in-store were excessive.

A rise in licence fee charges imposed in 2005 by Public Performance Limited, which collects money on behalf of record companies, was judged too high by the Copyright Tribunal, which also imposed a 10% increase cap. The decision followed legal action by the British Retail Consortium and others.

The 2005 increases resulted in some retailers suffering a doubling of costs overnight. One fashion retailer’s bill rose from £176,000 to £408,000 per year and a tile chain’s from £25,000 to £73,000.

The ruling should save retailers £5m a year and lead to the return of £20m to shops, restaurants and other affected businesses.

BRC food and consumer director Andrew Opie said: “Being able to play music or have a radio on is important for customers and staff in many shops. Artists and composers are entitled to a payment but increases on this scale cannot be justified.”

Public Performance Limited intends to appeal against the tribunal’s decision.