Former Bungie Composer Tells Fans To ‘Destroy’ Destiny Music He Published Against Court Orders

Former Bungie Composer Tells Fans To ‘Destroy’ Destiny Music He Published Against Court Orders

Marty O’Donnell, the former audio director at Bungie who worked on Halo and Destiny for years, was forced by a court to upload a video yesterday asking folks to stop sharing and publishing video game music he uploaded online without legal permission and against court orders. In the short video, the composer even asks fans to “destroy” any copies of the music they might still have.

On O’Donnell’s YouTube channel, the composer uploaded a 45-second video yesterday that contains a pre-written and court-approved message asking people to stop sharing or publishing “non-commercially available material related to Destiny or Music of the Spheres.

His full statement can be read below.

“To whom it may concern,

I do not have, and have not had since at least April 2014, the legal authority to possess or distribute non-commercially available material related to Destiny or Music of the Spheres (including material I composed or created while working for Bungie).

This material is owned by Bungie. If you posted any of these assets on a website or other publicly available platform, you should remove the content immediately. If you have copies of these assets, you should refrain from sharing and destroy any copies of them.

This request does not apply to any Destiny or Music of the Spheres material that you lawfully obtained from commercially available sources.”

Back in 2010, three years after Bungie and Microsoft parted ways, the studio began working with Activision on a 10-year development plan to create the Destiny franchise. And, it was decided by Bungie and O’Donnell that, rather than create music for each planned instalment of the game, O’Donnell would compose a large score for the entire franchise and all future games. After two years of composing alongside Michael Salvatori, and former Beatle Paul McCartney, they had created a large eight-part score called “The Music of Spheres.”

But before E3 2013, Activision decided to not use his music for Destiny 1′s E3 2013 trailer. According to court docs from back in 2015, O’Donnell was furious about the change and directly complained to Bungie CEO Harold Ryan. The rest of Bungie management agreed that Activision overstepped and filed a formal complaint, but the publisher overruled it. O’Donnell’s plans to release the project as a separate release were denied by both Bungie and Activision. This ultimately led to O’Donnell going online when the Activision-scored E3 trailer premiered and tweeting that the music was not Bungie’s, leading to a clash with the developer and eventually after further issues between the studio and composer, he was fired without cause on April 11, 2014.

Lawsuits followed. In one lawsuit — which O’Donnell won — he still 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 (following 2018 leaks of “Music of the Spheres” score online) O’Donnell began uploading music from the project. Bungie’s lawyers argued this directed violated the previous injunction and in May 2021, a judge ruled in Bungie’s favour.

In September of this year, O’Donnell was found in contempt of court for his continuous use of Destiny assets, including uploading song clips online long after he was fired and left Bungie in 2014. According to Eurogamer, such use violated the terms of a previous lawsuit. He was forced to pay Bungie nearly $US100,000 (A$138,176) and ordered to create a video 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.

Now, nearly two months later and after both sides of the legal fight agreed to the text, that video has been uploaded to both his YouTube and Twitter accounts.

It would seem like the end of this long legal battle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a new wrinkle or chapter in this saga pops up in the not-too-distant future.

Comments

  • This is the 2nd video he uploaded. In the first one, he asked everyone to delete all copies of the music (legally obtained or otherwise). The new video specifies that you don’t need to destroy your copy if it was legally obtained. Not sure if the script for the first video was checked by the lawyers.

  • If he produced that music under contract for Bungie which gave them copyright to it, He has no right to distribute it. It really is that simple.

    • It does not matter at all how much he feels he was fucked over by Activision/ bungie. He still has no legal right to distribute the music like that without permission from the copyright holders.

        • Also just to confirm, If you created something, You would be perfectly fine with me exactly copying it and selling it. And you would have no legal recourse to stop me because as you say “Copyright is wrong.”

          Just want to confirm

          • Worth adding that I work across more than one creative industry and this isn’t a hypothetical response. Anyone is perfectly welcome to reuse my material as he she or it thinks fit without attribution, and sometimes people do.

            Although unlikely, if someone finds a way to monetise my output, more power to them. I’ve already made what I consider fair reimbursement by that point. Any further reuse costs me literally nothing at all.

            It annoys me seeing people lock down the copyright on their family holiday snaps on Flickr as if they’re sitting on some potential copyright gold mine. As if their crappy snaps are somehow going to meme out and win them the lottery due to someone else’s efforts to find a market for something that they self-evidentially can’t.

    • From a legal standpoint sure.

      But at the same time, creatives taking on jobs like this generally do so with the expectation that the work will be released publicly (even if it isn’t specified in the contract). You might be happy to let the company profit off the work, but to know people have appreciated the work and have something to put in your resume/portfolio.

      Not having the music appear in the game would be a disappointment, but to know it would never see any other type of release and the public would never hear it is something else.

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