Composer Marty O’Donnell, Bungie’s former audio director, has been found in contempt of court for his continuous use of Destiny assets, including uploading song clips online long after he left the company. According to Eurogamer, such use violated the terms of a previous lawsuit.
O’Donnell was a veteran member of Bungie and responsible for the iconic Halo score. But back in 2014, he tweeted that he had been fired “without cause.” While still working on Destiny, Activision had stepped in with its own music for the game’s E3 trailer, and Bungie then shelved Music of the Spheres, the ambitious musical companion O’Donnell and his partner Michael Salvatori composed with former Beatle, Paul McCartney. In the terms of a lawsuit that followed, which O’Donnell won, he was ordered to return “all material” from Destiny and Music of the Spheres—not just the final scores, but every version, component, and variation.
However, in 2019, O’Donnell began uploading versions of music from Destiny and Music of the Spheres to his YouTube channel and to Bandcamp, setting off this latest legal spat. According to Eurogamer, a Bungie motion reads, “Mr. O’Donnell’s very possession of such materials proves he did not comply with the order to return ‘all material’ to Bungie.” Earlier this summer, a judge agreed that O’Donnell’s action violated the previous injunction and ruled in Bungie’s favor.
O’Donnell was told to remove all relevant material from the internet and post a message on his Twitter, YouTube, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud explaining that he did not have the authority to provide this music or material. Moreover, O’Donnell was to tell anyone who downloaded the assets to refrain from sharing them and to destroy any copies of them.
As part of the ruling, O’Donnell was ordered to return any money he received and pay Bungie’s legal fees. O’Donnell’s legal team is reportedly arguing against the nearly $100,000 Bungie is demanding.
In early June of this year, a month before the ruling was issued, O’Donnell tweeted that he was thinking about retiring from the game industry in a deleted tweet, and added that he would, “be forced to shut this [his account] down soon.” When asked why, he replied, “Ask Pete Parsons,” referring to the Bungie CEO. The following day, O’Donnell tweeted out the Bandcamp for his Golem Soundtrack, adding, “Please consider purchasing this soundtrack. The money will help with my huge legal bills.”
Despite his earlier claims, the composer hasn’t deleted his Twitter account, but instead over the past few weeks has been tweeting about his work on Halo.