HYBE called out by artist for allegedly plagiarizing their artwork for virtual girl group SYNDI8

Supertone, an AI tech company owned by HYBE, recently launched virtual girl group SYNDI8. Subsequently, they found themselves under fire because one of the group’s members uses the same characters, height, and MBTI as Karina, among other things like making a Kwangya-like land SYNDI8 exist in as if they were aespa. Predictably, that was meme’d and what not given the mess going on.

Anyway, the real problem that has emerged is being accused of plagiarism by artist B.YO, who is claiming that they received an offer to work with HYBE on designing a virtual girl group, but that after turning it down, she was surprised that the end product for SYNDI8 resembled her own anyway.

“I received an offer from a subsidiary label of HYBE to design a virtual girl group. I was angry because after I explained the cost and the details of the offer, the designer didn’t respond and cut off all contact.
The announcement of the new virtual group came out today. Many people thought that I designed the group and after receiving the images, it felt strange.
If you look at the third photo, the style they first showed me through sketches is not seen at all, and the drawing style has changed.
Do the fans think that I took the offer?
They did send me an offer but I didn’t take it. It must be a coincidence that the outcome is totally different from their initial sketches and looks similar to my style, right? They must’ve really looked up a lot of references or worked hard tracing and using a spoid.”

They included a screenshot of the offer from HYBE, the sketches sent by HYBE, and then posted a comparison of her artwork style along with the final product.

On the top left is the initial sketch she was sent, top right is the final product from HYBE, which the artists says looks nothing alike. Then she provides examples of their work on the bottom, saying it resembles the style in the final design for SYNDI8.

While B.YO admits she doesn’t have the power to do anything, and acknowledges that she doesn’t own the art style, she explains that she couldn’t ignore the similarities because they contacted her before.

“What an amazing coincidence! I know I cannot claim my style as my own. Similar designs are found in comics, and city pop illustrations and drawings are created through references.
However, this company inquired about a collaboration with me and didn’t reply when I asked about the details. It was a collaboration that was rejected by them.
They completely changed the existing style. Seeing the final outcome, it feels uncomfortable to see this in a positive way.
Of course, they probably looked at other references besides me. Fans have been asking if I worked on it, and I am making it clear that this is absolutely not the case. I am writing this because it feels unfair.
I’m not asking you to do something about it. I mean, what power does an individual artist like me have anyway?”

Yeah, as you know, I’m not one for people claiming lookalikes or soundalikes are plagiarism, but when there’s a paper trail like this, then things become much more questionable, especially because companies have a history of being refused by artists and then using the work of that artist anyway. The artist explains as much in a follow-up post*, saying that she wouldn’t have said anything if she didn’t get an offer from the company beforehand. I dunno, she seems reasonable in her reaction.

*They also add that she’s getting a lot of abuse from fans.

Apart from that, since this is coming from an AI company, I feel like HYBE don’t get the appeal of a Vtuber kind of group to begin with. Also, if I had to guess, the artist seems to be against AI, judging by their profile on Instagram, hence turning down this offer. In a way this story is sorta fitting then, as an AI company in the arts almost inherently wouldn’t care about stealing from artists.


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