Merlin, the global independent rights agency, has settled a long-running copyright infringement claim on behalf of its members against the now defunct peer-to-peer service LimeWire.
This follows an announcement by the major record labels in May 2011 that they had reached a $105 million (£64m) out-of-court settlement with LimeWire, ending a five-year legal battle over illegal file-sharing.
LimeWire was shut down in October 2010 after a court ruled in favour of the record industry, which claimed that the site was responsible for $1bn in lost sales and had "wreaked enormous damage" on the labels.
Merlin said that today's victory puts independent record labels, such as Warp, XL Recordings and [PIAS], on an equal footing to the majors in the fight against copyright infringement.
It said that the size of the settlement is "commensurate" with that won by the major labels, taking into account the market shares of Merlin members (around 10% worldwide), and the cost of legal action.
Artists signed to Merlin member labels include Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, The xx, Grizzly Bear, The National, Tom Waits and Tiësto.
Merlin said that it will pay out the proceeds of the settlement - estimated by Billboard at around $15m - to the member labels shortly.
The indies were previously concerned about being left out of the legal actions against file-sharing websites, as they were not included in the $115m settlement with P2P service KaZaa, or the previous LimeWire verdict.
Merlin chief executive Charles Caldas said that the new settlement was "deeply satisfying".
"The exclusion of independents from past major settlements such as KaZaa was a key factor in the formation of Merlin, and I am proud to say that this time, via the actions of Merlin, our members' rights have been properly protected," he said.
"We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the labels we represent are never again left out in the cold."
Charlie Lexton, Merlin's head of business affairs & general counsel, added: "Whilst this is by no means the first settlement Merlin has delivered its members, it is clearly the most significant, representing as it does, the successful conclusion of a high-profile, large-scale, global copyright infringement claim on an equal footing with the major labels. An unprecedented moment for independents."
Founded in 2008, Merlin has licensed music from its member labels to various streaming and digital services, including Spotify, YouTube, Google Music, Rdio and Simfy.
However, it has also secured a number of copyright infringement settlements with operators, including XM Sirius and Grooveshark, as it seeks to combat content piracy.