"We want music fans to enjoy music online, but in a fashion that compensates everyone who worked to create that music," RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement.
Among those sued were students at 26 different colleges and universities, where the prevalence of high-speed networks and cash-poor music fans has led to an explosion of peer-to-peer traffic.
Under pressure from the RIAA, many schools have taken steps to limit file sharing and at least 20 schools give students free access to industry-sanctioned download services like Roxio Inc.'s (ROXI.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Napster.
The RIAA does not yet know the names of those it has sued, only the numerical addresses used by their computers. The trade group typically finds out suspects' identities from their Internet service providers during the legal proceedings.
In addition to those sued anonymously, the RIAA said it had sued 68 defendants whose identities had been discovered and who had declined offers to settle.
The RIAA typically settles copyright-infringement suits for around $5,000 each.