The US record industry is suing 32 people at 26 colleges across the country in an effort to stamp out illegal downloading.
Several record companies say the individuals used university networks to illegally distribute material on file-swapping services.
The industry is sueing individual users in an attempt to thwart piracy, which it blames for a downturn in sales.
The move comes despite figures which show the industry is recovering.
"We want music fans to enjoy music online but in a fashion that compensates everyone who worked to create that music," said Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) president Cary Sherman.
Despite illegal downloading fears, global music sales fell by just 1.3% during the first half of the year, suggesting the market is showing the first signs of recovery.