File-sharing networks are trying to improve their image in the face of accusations of piracy and porn.
The record industry blames online piracy for falling CD sales
Six US peer-to-peer services have launched a code of conduct designed to encourage responsible behaviour among their millions of users.
But they stopped short of saying they would take any action to prevent people from sharing copyrighted material.
The record industry blames file-swapping for a decline in music sales.
Rules of conduct
The peer-to-peer services are locked in a battle with music labels over the millions of songs traded online every day.
The Recording Industry Association of America has resorted to the law courts to try to stop the practice, suing hundreds of alleged file-swappers.
It has also tried to brand file-sharing networks as a channel for child pornography.
Under the mantle of a group called P2P United, six networks have hit back by launching a code of conduct.
The members said they would police investigating the trading of child porn on their networks, as well as agreeing not to secretly install software known as spyware on a user's computer.
On the key issue of copyright, they agreed to warn users about copyright law and the potential criminal or civil penalties of piracy. But there was no mention of controls to stop people swapping copyrighted songs or films.
Instead P2P United proposed ideas for licensing music to the file-sharing networks, such as the fees radio stations pay for music.
"It's long past time for the 'Tyrannosaurical' recording industry to stop blaming and suing its customers to cover up the industry's own glaring failure to adapt yet again to a new technology," said P2P United's executive director, Adam Eisgrau.
This seems unlikely to satisfy the record labels, which are trying to stop file-swapping through the courts.
The RIAA said the code of conduct was a positive step but that it did not go far enough.
"It is refreshing to see that P2P United is acknowledging that their members should be more active in educating their users about the consequences of illegal file-sharing that is rampant on their networks as well as the other risks these networks pose to personal privacy and security," said Amy Weiss of the RIAA.
"But, let's face it, they need to do a whole lot more before they can claim to be legitimate businesses."
P2P United brings together LimeWire, Grokster, Blubster, BearShare, Morpheus and eDonkey 2000.
But the most popular file-swapping service, Kazaa, is not a member of the group.