Three US judges last night sealed a secure fate for iTunes when they declared the royalty rate paid to music publishers should remain the same.

Eddy Cue, vice-president of iTunes, last year threatened to close the iTunes Store if the judges chose to raise royalty levels: “[Apple] is in this business to make money, and would most likely not continue to operate [iTunes] if it were no longer possible to do so profitably.”

Instead, the three judges on the US Copyright Royalty Board chose to keep royalty payments at the same level - maintaining the existing royalty rate of 9.1 cents a song rather than side with music publishers who wanted it raised to 15 cents, or with music labels and iTunes who actually wanted to slash the cash they give songwriters and composers.

Jonathan Potter, executive director of the DiMA, which represents online music stores, said, "During this challenging time for the music industry and digital stores and services, we are pleased with the CRB's decision to keep royalty rates stable for the next five years. Keeping rates where they are will help digital services and retailers continue to innovate and grow for the next several years, which will benefit songwriters, artists, labels and publishers."