In its 2003 annual report, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) ranked Kenya high among nations on the global watch list for unbridled infringement of music copyright legislation.

The lack of clearly defined goodwill from successive governments, has resulted in majority of local artistes and music makers, been under siege from the grip of well-connected cartels minting millions from pirated products.

On the surface, the growth and popularity of particularly local rap and hip-hop music videos may herald a positive shot in the arm for budding musicians.

"But the flipside is that all new videos put out in the local market provide fresh fodder likely to fuel already spiraling piracy levels", says nyatiti-player song composer/artiste Judith Bwire.

Indiscriminate piracy reportedly became entrenched beginning late 1980s. Over four decades later, pirated sound recordings are still commonplace.

An estimated 75% of music CDs and videos sold mainly in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and major urban towns, are counterfeit and pirated copies.

In 2008, a makeshift lobby group of musicians proposed the Kenya Revenue Authority introduces authentication devices or stickers on recorded original cassettes, CDs and VCDs - similar to those used on beverages and cigarettes.

Ideally, pirates do not pay taxes - owing to the counterfeit dealers' failure to register the illegal 'trade' with the Kenya Bureau of Standards and KRA's Value Added Tax (VAT) department.

The illicit copying or duplicating process is done 'while you wait' without imposition of VAT. According to artiste /composer Abbi Nyinza, there is a lot of money being minted.

"Kenya is one of the leading piracy havens in Africa. There must be money circulating - the only challenge is that there are no professional structures to ensure our music sector functions as a viable business entity," he says.

The unrelenting levels of perennial piracy locally, pose a huge risk of stifling the sale of original music not only locally but across East Africa and beyond.

Findings of a survey conducted in 2004, established that there were no records of pirates remitting illegally acquired monies to musicians, composers or producers.

This scenario has resulted in growing disillusionment among musicians and recording labels, over lethargic implementation of stipulated penalties meant to curb the vice. The pirates' low overheads advantage compels retailers to cut back on original CDs, VCDs and DVDs prices.