Music industry bosses announced a new wave of lawsuits against suspected online music pirates in Europe and Canada, targetting nearly 250 alleged illegal file-sharers.
Global recording umbrella group IFPI said it was taking the action reluctantly, as part of a wider campaign to persuade people to use legal online music services.
"We have made it clear that file-sharing without the permission of the copyright holder... amounts to file-stealing, and that it affects jobs and livelihoods across the whole industry," said IFPI head Jay Berman.
The European lawsuits, which come after similar successful actions in the United States, charge individuals with illegally making available hundreds of music tracks for copying, transmission and distribution on the Internet.
The action was announced by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the recording industry associations in Denmark, Germany, Italy and Canada.
IFPI said that more than 600,000 consumers in Europe alone are now accessing a huge catalogue of 300,000 tracks that are available from 50 legal online sites.
"Today's announcement should come as no surprise," said Berman, adding that the music industry has sought to educate the public about the damage caused by illegal file-sharing and pointing consumers to legal sources of music online.
But it had come to the conclusion that "education alone is not sufficient, and that some people persist because, like shop-lifters, they think they can get away with it".
"So we have decided that only the prospect of legal action is going to make those people rethink what they are doing," he said.