Gary Locke is saving country music ...
... Well, not quite, but the Commerce secretary did meet this week with several country music musicians and other music industry representatives in Nashville to talk about what the Obama administration is doing to stop music piracy.
Lest you think Locke was just looking for a good excuse to visit "Music City" (do you really need a good excuse?), remember that piracy is a big deal: Total revenues for recorded music in the United States have dropped from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $7.7 billion in 2008, thus impacting Nashville's $4 billion music industry.
During a speech at Belmont University -- attended by several musicians, including Big Kenney of country band Big and Rich -- Locke quoted Vice President Biden's previous statements on piracy, calling it "flat, unadulterated theft" that should be dealt with seriously.
"This isn't just an issue of right and wrong. This is a fundamental issue of America's economic competitiveness," Locke said.
The administration this year established an Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator that is pulling together the various government efforts focused on piracy and intellectual property issues.
Before the speech, Locke also toured Nashville's Music Row, where you can often find some of music's biggest stars showing up for impromptu shows. And who is the secretary's favorite country music star, you ask? Johnny Cash, of course.
| September 1, 2010; 12:48 PM ET
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