Over the past couple of days, accusations have been swirling around the internet, claiming that Fortnite developer and publisher Epic stole the design for a skin in its battle royale game from a fan artist and their original character design.
Back in November 2018, the The Taro: Protector of the Wilds skin was added to Fortnite. It was a relatively unremarkable skin, with cool horns coming out of its head, and nothing really happened at the time. However, over the weekend, allegations emerged of plagiarism from DeviantArt user Elecast, At a glance, it seemed like a clear cut case. Elecast's image appeared to have been uploaded two months prior, and it was impossible to deny how similar the designs looked.
It's fake. pic.twitter.com/BfIq05gDRm
— Ding Dong (@DingDongVG) April 1, 2019
However, in the days since, people with knowledge of how DeviantArt works have been doing some digging. Apparently, you can update an image on DeviantArt without changing its listed publication date. Based on looking at older versions of the page, user Pyro-Zombie spotted that the image was originally nothing like the Fortnite skin. It appears they may have gone back and tried to create evidence of plagiarism that never happened.
The user who originally accused Epic of plagiarism has since deleted their Twitter account where the claim was made.
In a digital age, timestamps on content are easier than ever to fake, and it's important to remember that what looks clear cut may not actually be.