Almost 500 music fans are hit with copyright infringement lawsuits...

Almost 500 alleged file-sharers in the US have been issued with copyright infringement lawsuits.

As part of an ongoing campaign by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), lawsuits were served against 493 people they say are downloading music for free. Lawsuits were filed in several major federal courts across the country.

Speaking about the action RIAA President Cary Sherman said: “Our continuing objective is to send a message of deterrence, protect the rights of property owners, and foster environment where the legitimate marketplace, both online and at retail, can flourish.”

She continued: “We’re gratified by the results we have seen so far, but the scope of the piracy problem continues to be significant. We need to continue our enforcement efforts. They are an important but complementary piece to the principal strategy of offering fans compelling legitimate alternatives.

“We will continue to go the extra mile and seek to resolve these cases in a fair and reasonable manner. That’s in the best interests of everyone involved.”

In the UK, paid alternatives to free services are now being launched. Last week Napster made the surprise announcement they were live, while this week the charity Oxfam launched their own music download service promising some of the money from downloads will go to their charity.