(CNN) -- The recording industry filed 261 lawsuits against individual Internet music file sharers Monday and announced an amnesty program for people who admit they illegally share music files through the Internet.

The federal lawsuits and amnesty program are the latest moves by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in its fight against illegal music file trading on the Internet, which record companies blame for a 31 percent drop in compact disc sales since mid-2000.

Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, said civil lawsuits filed were against "major offenders" who made available an average of 1,000 copyrighted song files.

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