Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with local politicians and music industry leaders in Nashville on Monday to discuss piracy and global intellectual piracy protection. After his speech and the following Q&A session, there was no doubt where he stands on copyright infringement:

"Thank you, Rob (Crosby, accomplished songwriter) for that introduction and for all the work you've done to bring attention to the scourge of music piracy."

"This is unadulterated theft."

"We've got to get down to enforcement. There are certain companies that sell this stuff, offer it for free on the Internet. They make their money off of advertising, so they could care less whether or not it's paid for."

To the delight of the crowd gathered at Belmont University, just south of Music Row, Secretary Locke told a city built on copyright protection that the Obama administration intends to protect U.S. copyright owners. Many people clearly feel the solution to their problems is a government-led campaign against piracy. Dave Pomeroy, President of the Nashville Recording Musicians Association, seemed to capture the crowd's sentiment when he called on the government to help change society's view of music. "It's not free," he said. "We work for a living."

And the popular sentiment in the room makes sense. Nashville is a songwriters' town. Songwriters receive much of their income from revenue streams created by government-created protections (in the form of mechanical royalties and performance royalties). Songwriters tend not to make a living touring. They don't sell T-shirts or land lucrative sponsorship deals with national brands. To protect Nashville is to protect the value of music.

But the event's tone was indicative of a greater problem within the industry: Too much emphasis placed on government solutions and too little emphasis on market solutions. While even the most innovative business model should not have to compete with free and illegal services, the way forward is through compelling, must-have products and services. Content owners need to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs. While calling for a massive education campaign to reinforce the value of music, people should have been calling for Secretary Locke to create the conditions for innovation to thrive in the marketplace.

Fortunately, there were calls for an emphasis on innovation rather than government. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, who earlier suggested replacing euphemisms for piracy with the term "stealing music," admitted the government could pass a law to prevent digital piracy and the proper filters could be put in place. But he questioned the merit of an increasingly intrusive government. The better solution, he argued, is for industries to move beyond yesterday's technologies. "Some kind of a new business model that finds another way to compensate songwriters and performers seems to be the only answer."

Digital entrepreneur Mark Montgomery expressed concern about the tone of the conversation. "Right now I don't hear a lot of talk about innovation," he said. "I hear a lot of talk about, 'I just want it to go back to the way it was.' I just don't think that's going to happen."

Jay Frank, author and executive at CMT, also presented an alternate view to the enforcement-heavy discussions. Efforts to stop piracy will only be a small part of the solution, he said. "As you fight piracy, to encourage innovation is really going to be the key for all of us to succeed as businesspeople."