The trade has won a landmark legal battle against the Phongraphic Performance Limited (PPL) that could save pubs millions of pounds in music licensing.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Hospitality Association (BHA) appealed against the decision of the Copyright Tribunal on the value of fees that have to be paid for background music.
The industry estimates that as a consequence of the fees increase implemented in January 2005, the average pub and restaurant has paid an additional £500-£600 over the last four years — a total of at least £12m.
PPL, which sets, administers and collects the fees had attempted to limit the Copyright Tribunal's jurisdiction to broadcast music only and have a separate Tribunal for non-broadcast music.
However, Mr Justice Kitchen said this would be "inconvenient, cumbersome, expensive, and involve a waste of judicial and public resources". He also ruled it to be a misinterpretation of the law.
The court ruled that the Copyright Tribunal does have powers under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to set the value of both broadcast and non-broadcast music in one tariff.
"This is a victory for common sense in an extremely complex area of law," said BBPA chief executive Rob Hayward. "We now look forward to going back to the Copyright Tribunal, where we will do our utmost to secure a reduction in the fees which will give much needed financial relief to those licensees who are currently paying PPL well over the odds for music in their pubs."
BHA chief executive Bob Cotton, added: "We are more than pleased to have been able to deliver this result for our members, which raises the real prospect of reverting the charges for the playing of background music to a much more sensible and sustainable level."