Steve Aoki Caught Using Pirated Production Software…

Here’s more proof that wealthier people pirate more stuff. The legal version of Sylenth 1, created by Lennar Digital, costs about $186 (you can order it here).  Steve Aoki, recently ranked the tenth-richest DJ by Forbes, has earnings estimated at $14 million over the past 12 months alone.

The above screenshot, which first surfaced on Reddit, was taken from a teaser video featuring Steve Aoki and Linkin Park.  The team has been collaborating on a new track, “The Light That Never Comes” (the cracked software appears at about :23).

Updated (Saturday; 8/24): Steve Aoki now says he was indeed using a cracked version, but that he also purchased an initial version legally.

We’ve emailed Lennar Digital for a response (they’re based in the Netherlands), so stay tuned.  Aoki, the son of Benihana founder Rocky Aoki, is also the owner of Dim Mak Records.

45 Responses

  1. ffs

    A comment from the original article:
    “Soooooo time to pirate some Aoki beats then right? And no one in the music industry can ever complain about people downloading their music for free”

    Great, thanks steve. This is the sort of thing that fucks us all.

  2. jw

    Just to play devil’s advocate here, could it be that it’s just a Team Arcade custom skin & not necessarily cracked software? It could be that Aoki downloaded a completely legal torrent of skins & just liked the way the Team Arcade skin looked. It seems like you could easily hide or replace the licensing information during the skinning process. I don’t know if there’s really enough in this screen shot to call proof of piracy.
    Also, & I don’t have any reason to believe this is the case, but I think it’s a point to be made… oftentimes software developers put limits on software (in terms of how many tracks can be created, effects used, etc) that allow it to run on an average computer, & sometimes cracks address these limitations in addition to the registration componant. It could be that Aoki has specific needs & a high end computer, & that he uses legally licensed, but cracked software in some cases. But, of course, that’s just conjecture.
    This really comes down to whether or not he ever paid the software designers, & while there may be enough here to raise the question (it very well may be that he downloaded the cracked version that had this skin installed by default, only Aoki or Lenner Digital really know for sure), I also think it’s imparrative that everyone understand that software licensing is software licensing & software customization is software customization, & software customization is not proof of piracy.

    • Visitor

      Just to play devil’s advocate here, could it be that it’s just a Team Arcade custom skin & not necessarily cracked software?

      1. this is standard skin of sylenth synth.
      2. this is place for name of the owner of software license

      • jw

        I realize this is merely the court of public opinion, but what happened to innocent until proven guilty? I’m just trying to look at all possibilities, & treat copyright like the gray area it is.
        And while I was off about the skin, the truth ended up being what I figured… he’s paid for a license. Isn’t that the whole point?
        Whether or not this individual use leverages the license number is incidental… the whole point is to force people to pay the software. Their EULA seems to grant use to a single licensee, rather than restricting to any # of installations.
        So yeah, I’m defending him. And I think he deserves a retraction from Paul.

        • Visitor

          Yeah, sooooo convenient to put the blame on his staff !

          They didn’t have time to look for the serial number BUT they had time to search for and download a pirated version.
          Also, if you have a single license, then you have to buy another one if you use it on another computer. The guy has enoughb money to buy 6 computers a years but not the software license ? What a joke !

    • antho9

      that’s a rididulous argument…

      as a producer myself, I can say that I would never do such a thing. I either buy the software or I don’t. I would never buy the software and then download a pirated skin “because I like it more”.

  3. Oz

    the real headline should be – steve aoki caught pretending to be a musician

    • Maurice Oliver aka Chill Facto

      Thank You, for saying that, all that Benihana money behind
      him, and he’s still “cracking!” Stealing is stealing! Stop
      defending him “maybe it’s a production laptop” Really Stop!

    • DirtySoap

      Check out my post further down. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

      • White Beard

        JW yourr really smart thanks for defending Aoki to the others………in the most respective way I can say it……..SUCK IT!

  4. Butterfingers

    I wonder how common this is. Other DJ’s? Is everyone doing this? Just how widespread is this? Can we ever really know for sure?

  5. Visitor

    Pretty sure it’s not his laptop. It was the video production company’s unpaid interns laptop. I heard that when they investigated, they found a buncha pirated mp3 on the hard drive as well!

  6. Visitor

    Well, you can find idiots everywhere.
    At any rate; software companies, movie people and musicians should cooperate on this.
    We’re in it together.

  7. Luke

    Maybe someone should send Steve Aoki a message to tell him, this “Team Arcade” version isn’t up to date! 🙂

  8. Paul Resnikoff

    So many unanswered questions here. For example, what legal recourse can Lennar Digital take, against Aoki and Linkin Park, for that matter?
    The evidence would have to be argued (despite the clip), though here you have a song created for commercial profit created with illegal, cracked software.

    • DUDE

      Why the fuck would they wanna sue? Its impossible to prove from the video that its Aoki’s copy of Sylenth — the audio from the track was obviously added to the clip in post rather than played live from the laptop while the camera was rolling, and Aoki himself is not in that shot at all… it could be a shot of anyone with a copy of Sylenth’s screen
      Not to mention which, a clip of a someone of Aoki’s stature making tracks with their plugins is great not to mention free marketing for Lennar — Aoki is definitely famous enough to have people aspiring to get the same sound he’s got, and now they all know he uses Sylenth
      If I were in their shoes Id hit the dude up for an endorsement instead of filing a lawsuit I am most likely gonna lose… talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face

  9. mdti

    I do not know a single DJ/tek-house-trance maker that don’t use pirated software.
    – The rationale is “i don’t sell any mp3 because they are available on parallel websites just after release on beatport, so why should i pay for them?”
    – the truth is that djs are booked by clubs, and that’s how they make money, where mp3 and original tranck should be a promotional tools. Andthere are many djs, some of them need to play to appear on flyers and be known, but sometimes, they don’t get paid a single penny.
    – Those who can afford should buy software.
    – I personnally buy all the samples I use, software , and I use real hardware analog synths now. When I was penny less, I used to download stuff “for free”. Now I am proud to have a clean computer free of all the sh*t. My DJ friends think I am stupid 🙂
    – There is no good or wrong, there are people, and each is responsible of its action.
    – I beleive in “you get what you seed”… so don’t seed torrents, because you might drown in it 🙂
    – buy the software and samples, you will have to get the best out of them, instead of downloading loads of stuff that you won’t use to the max (this is the era of disposable…. prepare to be disposed…)

  10. my 2 cents

    he began his career as a privledged rich kid so he didn’t need to pirate software ever reguardless of his current inflated income. what a spoiled selfish brat !

  11. QSDC

    This is a pretty reckless headline.
    It may be his computer, or it may be someone else’s. It’s not immediately clear who is responsible.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      “It may be his computer, or it may be someone else’s. It’s not immediately clear who is responsible.”
      Considering the case that it isn’t his computer, then everyone’s off the hook? Not exactly: this is a song created and delivered by Aoki and Linkin Park, therefore anyone/everyone in that studio answers to Aoki and Linkin Park, ultimately.
      It will be really interesting to see if there’s any legal action here. Lots of interesting questions about what level of liability and damage can be claimed in a situation like this.

      • QSDC

        Paul, I don’t think that it’s as simple as you make it sound.

        If you are an artist working at a production studio, and the studio is using pirated software, are *you* responsible for this?

        What if you are a customer at an “internet cafe.” What if they are using pirated software? Are you responsible?

        Again, if it’s HIS system, or if the responsible party is HIS employee, then he is responsible to one degree or another. But as you can see, there is far less certainty over what happened then your headline suggests. I think “Is Steve Aoki using pirated software?” would be more appropriate, since we don’t really know what happened yet.

        • XiX

          So you guys are arguing the hypothetical situation that this isn’t Aoki’s system, which is really unlikely.

  12. QSDC

    If it was on his own sytem, then eff him. But, if it was someone else’s computer, I don’t see how he can be held responsible.
    Also, before you insist that he is responsible for someone else’s computer, are you also going to assume that 1) he knew what “team arcade” meant and 2) he even saw their name?

    • mdti

      are you really playing your tracks on someone else computer with someone else VSTis ? common’ 🙂
      like, he has a usb key with all his presets ?

      lol 🙂

  13. Visitor

    Steve Aoki is a hack.
    the only reason he’s anything is because he’s rich and people (especially in LA) are phychophants and want to be around rich people because they think it makes them cool.
    proud to say, i’ve said it to his face.

  14. Visitor

    I’ll just put this out there that I’ve seen plenty of studios that purchase copies of plug-ins/soft synths but install the crack version instead.
    Why? Cracks are often just as reliable as the DRM-protected versions – sometimes even more reliable. Dealing with licenses/iLoks across multiple systems is time-consuming and stolen/damaged/lost iLoks can mean hours if not days of down time (unless you purchase additional license protection from iLok). It’s just easier.
    The presence of a crack doesn’t necessarily mean he hasn’t bought one or more copies of the software.

    • AnAmusedGeek

      Interesting link…
      He’s really good at damage control. The only question I have, is does 1 purchase of the software 4 years ago, allow him to install it on ‘5 or 6’ laptops a year plus his ‘production’ machine?
      (That was an honest question, and not flamebait – I cant find anywhere on the lennar site that spells out the licensing terms.. )

  15. Haters

    Leave him the fuck alone. You are all a bunch of haters. I buy all my software, I’m sure he does too. Mind your own fucking business. He’s making a ton of money , what are you doing? Picking your assess??

  16. AnAmusedGeek

    Heh – hope you guys remember all these great justifications next time you want to hang someone for pirating mp3s or your complaining about ‘evil tech’…
    I’ve said before, I’ll say it again – the music industry isn’t special, _all_ content creators are going thru the same shit.

    BTW, as a professional geek, I can’t imagine anyone being dumb enough to bring pirated software into the work place. There are just tooo many potential problems – copyright fines being the least of them.

    However, it appears idiots are everywhere – just heard from a friend that their company had to settle with SIIA for $20,000 after loading cracked software on a few machines. Legal licenses would have cost a fraction of that, and open source would have cost nothing… But some people gotta feel like they’re ‘getting over’.

  17. DirtySoapMusic

    I know Steve from Las Vegas back in the late 90’s. Way before he became famous. In fact you’d be hard pressed to not think he was a homeless person. Back then he did alot of drugs, played with “raver” toys, and went by the name Microbot. I’m thinking of posting a picture to prove my point. I do have the pic’s up on my FB page now. Just thought I’d share this cause at this point(more then ever) he has proven he is a D bag! Anyone want to see a picture?

  18. just just no

    There’s no indication of Steve actually using the said pirated software, or proprietary proof. Assumptions can’t be made so quickly!

    • Visitor

      he says he did himself for practical reasons that can be easily understood, and that he now solved the problem as he forgot and got reminded.
      so, it has been helpful to assume and debate and criticize 😉

  19. Steve Balmer

    Sweet! Software piracy is so cool!

    I’m going to go pirate his music and enjoy it in the car now.