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Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Meets with Music Industry Representatives in Nashville to Discuss Piracy and Global Intellectual Property Protection

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Locke emphasizes protection of creativity and innovation as vital to jobs and the economy

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with artists and representatives from the music industry today to discuss the administration’s commitment to global enforcement of laws against intellectual property piracy. Locke was joined by Congressman Jim Cooper and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean for a tour of “Music Row.” After the tour, Governor Phil Bredesen joined the group for a discussion with musicians, including Big Kenny from Big & Rich, songwriters, students and other industry representatives at Belmont University.

“This administration is committed to tackling the challenges facing the music industry, because it is a fundamental issue of economic security and jobs,” Locke said. “We are continually looking for new ways to protect the creativity that is the lifeblood of Nashville and America’s economy.”

As “America’s Music City,” Nashville is an important hub in the U.S. music industry and has been impacted by the recent rise in online intellectual property piracy. With the advent of the Internet and file-sharing technologies, consumers are spending less on recorded music in all formats, and total revenues for recorded music in the U.S. have dropped from a high of $14.6 billion in 1999 to $7.7 billion in 2008. This has affected the local economy, which supports thousands of jobs and a $4 billion industry annually.

In response to the challenge of piracy, the Obama Administration has made intellectual property protection and enforcement a high priority. In June, Vice President Biden and the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel introduced the Administration’s intellectual property enforcement strategy. The strategy contains more than 30 concrete recommendations for improving enforcement, including a number of initiatives for which Locke and the Commerce Department have a lead role. (See the administration’s Joint Strategic Plan to combat intellectual property theft here.)

Earlier this year, Locke also met with representatives from the motion picture industry in Los Angeles to stress the importance of strong intellectual property rights. In July, the Commerce Department’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration hosted a conference on “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Information Economy,” bringing together representatives of the music industry and other content owners, Internet Service Providers and public interest groups.

The Department of Commerce, supported by the expertise of the USPTO, serves as the chief advisor to President Obama on intellectual property issues. Led by Director David Kappos, the USPTO also has a strong, ongoing enforcement effort that provides training for government and private sector officials all over the world.