Rooster Teeth and DC Comics has been accused of plagiarizing a fan-made weapon design after said weapon design appeared in the fifth issue of DC’s RWBY series, allegedly without any contact being made with or credit being given to the creator.

Issue #5 of RWBY centers around Weiss Schnee as she reflects upon her time spent at Beacon Academy, specifically her morally ambiguous victory in a free-for-all obstacle course after being antagonized by Cardin Winchester. It is at the advent of Weiss’ obstacle course that the fan-made weapon can be seen, being used by then-professor Glynda Goodwitch as the competition’s starting gun:

Rooster Teeth and DC Allegedly Use Fan Designed Weapon in DC’s RWBY Comic Without Contacting or Crediting Artist - The Dust Trivolver as seen in RWBY #5

Eagle-eyed readers soon noticed that this weapon bears more than a passing resemblance to the ‘Dust Trivolver’, a fan-designed weapon created by RWBY fan artist Chris Lee:

Lee’s original design was published to YouTube on May 25th, 2015, more than four years prior to the release date of RWBY #5.

Word of this similarity quickly reached Lee, who replied to his original fan-design video with a comment stating that he had “never been contacted by RT or DC” regarding the use of his design:

“Thanks guys for the heads up.  I haven’t been following the comics.  I saw the reddit post as well – are those the only frames where it appears?  Or does anyone have a link where I can look at the chapter for free?

No, I’ve never been contacted by RT or DC.  I had a similar situation with the BRNZ sniper rifle in volume 3, although this one is much more spot on.  I have many mixed feelings about it all, but at least I think it’s cool my work was noticed.  Maybe I’ll make an update video/post and talk about this soon.”

Lee claims that this is the second time Rooster Teeth has used one of his designs without contacting or crediting him, with an October 20th, 2015 design for a “Sniper Battle-Axe” allegedly being used for the design of the rifle used by May Zedong during the 40th Vytal Festival, as seen in the October 31st/November 1st, 2015 episode New Challengers…:

Rooster Teeth and DC Allegedly Use Fan Designed Weapon in DC’s RWBY Comic Without Contacting or Crediting Artist - May Zedong's Rifle

May Zedong wielding her rifle, as seen in the RWBY episode “New Challengers…”

However, according to Rooster Teeth’s Terms of Use for their website, users who create fan works, or “user submissions,” relating to the “Services” provided by the website, defined as “sites, products, or other offerings we provide” such as Red vs Blue or RWBY, must release Rooster Teeth from “any and all claims, demands, liabilities, and causes of action, whether now known or unknown, for defamation, copyright infringement, violation of moral rights, and invasion of the rights to privacy, publicity, or personality or any similar matter, or based upon or relating to the use of your User Submissions”:

“You understand that by posting information or content on the Website or otherwise providing content, materials or information to Company or in connection with the Services (collectively, “User Submissions”), you grant Company a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty free, perpetual, irrevocable, sublicenseable and transferable right to fully exploit, reformat, modify, create derivative works of, excerpt, or translate such User Submissions (including all related intellectual property and proprietary rights) in connection with the Services, the Website, and Company’s (and its successors’ and assigns’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Services (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. For clarity, the foregoing license grant to Company does not affect your ownership of or right to grant additional licenses to the material in your User Submissions, unless otherwise agreed in writing.

You also grant each User of the Services, as well any applicable FDS Administrator (as defined below), a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Services, and to view, use, modify, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Services and under this Agreement.

You waive any and all rights of privacy, publicity, or any other similar rights of a similar nature in connection with your User Submissions, or any portion thereof, including, without limitation, your name, likeness, voice, image, and persona or any advertising or publicity relating thereto. To the extent any moral rights are not transferable or assignable, you hereby waive and agree never to assert any and all moral rights, or to support, maintain or permit any action based on any moral rights that you may have in or with respect to any User Submissions. You expressly release Company and all of Company’s agents, partners, subsidiaries, affiliates, licensees, successors, and assigns from any and all claims, demands, liabilities, and causes of action, whether now known or unknown, for defamation, copyright infringement, violation of moral rights, and invasion of the rights to privacy, publicity, or personality or any similar matter, or based upon or relating to the use of your User Submissions. Notwithstanding the preceding sentences of this Section, you should let us know immediately if you object to any uses of your User Submissions on or through the Services or in the promotion of the Services.”

While using Lee’s design would be undoubtedly cheap and distasteful, it would not be explicitly illegal.

The use of fan-designs in RWBY is not unusual for Rooster Teeth, though credit has previously been given to the original artist. Last year saw the debut of the Manticore Grimms, which were designed by fan-artist Aromie “Inkyou24” Kim. Kim initially drew the concepts for the Manticore Grimms as fan art but was later invited to work with the RWBY production team to develop the design for use in the show:

As of writing, neither Rooster Teeth nor DC have commented on the allegation.

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  • About The Author

    Spencer Baculi

    Spencer is a contributing reporter for Bounding Into Comics. Unabashed anime fan, life-long comic book reader, avid video game player, and in need of a separate house for all of his figures. Trying to sift through the noise to bring the readers the facts.

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