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:
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…:
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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:
From a little thing I did for fun to something in the show itself!! It's an absolute pleasure and honor to work with the awesome people involved in #RWBY. Super pumped to see this guy in action – thank you #CRWBY!!! https://t.co/Zr6rtPn4ST
— A. Kim (@inkyou24) August 4, 2018
As of writing, neither Rooster Teeth nor DC have commented on the allegation.