In the latest example of the music industry taking a sledgehammer to a trembling walnut, a US student has been fined almost half a million pounds for illegal file sharing.

Joel Tenenbaum was found guilty of downloading and distributing 30 specimen tracks from subsidiaries of Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony, for which he was fined $675,000 (£400,000).

Some relief

The Boston University student said after the trial that he was glad the fine wasn't larger: "That to me sends a message of 'We considered your side with some legitimacy'.

Nevertheless, Tenenbaum's lawyer said the record companies were slow to react, defended his client as doing what was natural in the circumstances and added that he would appeal the ruling.