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.
— Marty O'Donnell (@MartyTheElder) November 19, 2021
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.