Music Industry Sues Nearly 500 More File-Swappers

The music industry filed copyright infringement lawsuits against 482 computer users Tuesday, the latest round of litigation by recording companies against suspected online music file-swappers.

The cases were filed against 213 people in St. Louis, 206 in Washington D.C., 55 in Denver and six in New Jersey, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (search), the Washington-based trade group that represents the major recording companies.

As in previous complaints brought by the industry this year, the lawsuits were filed against unnamed "John Doe" defendants, identified only by their computers' Internet protocol addresses.

The tactic is used when the defendants' identities are not known because it allows plaintiffs to ask the court to subpoena Internet access providers to reveal the names of their customers.

"Illegal downloading continues to cause enormous harm to the entire music community," said Steven Marks, the RIAA's general counsel. "We must stay on the path of education, enforcement, and offering great legal services."

In all, a total of 3,429 people have been sued by the recording industry since its legal campaign against individual computer users began in September. At least 600 of those cases were eventually settled for roughly $3,000 each. None of the cases has yet gone to trial.

The recording industry blames lagging music sales in recent years on the rise of online music piracy (search).

While some surveys have shown the number of people engaging in file-sharing has declined since the RIAA began its legal assault, other data shows millions continue to share music, movies and software online.