The Riaa (Recording Industry Association of America) has reached settlements with almost a quarter of the 261 internet users it sued for illegally downloading music.

A total of fifty-two file swappers have been ordered to destroy all downloaded music files from their PCs. Exact settlement figures have not been announced but industry representatives have put payments at between $1,500 (£1,000 approx) and $7,500 (£7,000 approx).

Six of the world's most popular file-sharing software developers, including Grokster and LimeWire, yesterday united — under the banner P2P United — to announce a P2P code of conduct. This includes such requirements as the prominent placement of warnings informing the visitor that using the software for illegal activities (including particular infringement of copyright laws), is strictly forbidden and may subject the user to civil and/or criminal penalties on software packaging.

The group also intends to ask the US Congress to stop Riaa's heavy-handed assault against P2P users.

"It's long due for the 'tyrannosaurical' recording industry to stop blaming, and suing, its customers to cover up the industry's own glaring failure to adopt a new technology — one that should have already been making millions for it," said Adam Eisgrau, P2P United's executive director.

But although P2P software isn't illegal, the famous Riaa and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) versus Grokster and Streamcast cases prove this, sharing someone else's copyrighted content across networks is and as P2P developers believe they should not be held responsible for what their customers do with their software, the problem is to protect copyrights.

"[People could] simply pay into a royalty fund at a negotiated rate so that artists can be paid fairly," said Morpheus' Michael Weiss. "It's high time to put the idea of a 'compulsory license' on the bargaining table, but the recording industry won?t be at the table unless Congress makes their attendance compulsory first."

However, Riaa looks set to go ahead with more actions against file swappers despite outrage from the software developers and a 'happy conclusion' still looks a long way off.