Former Bungie Composer Charged With Contempt of Court Over Use of Destiny Music

By | September 16, 2021

Former Bungie composer Marty O’Donnell, known for his work on the Halo series and Destiny, has been found in contempt of court over his use of Destiny music assets that broke the terms of a 2015 lawsuit between him and Bungie. O’Donnell now faces tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

As revealed by Eurogamer, Bungie served the Halo-famed composer with contempt of court papers back in April after it surfaced that Destiny videos breaking the terms of a previous 2015 lawsuit between the pair had been published to O’Donnell’s YouTube channel and other platforms.

On July 12 this year, after reviewing the evidence presented, Judge Regina Cahan of the Superior Court of Washington King County ruled in the studio’s favour. As part of the ruling, O’Donnell has reportedly been made to remove all relevant Destiny material from the internet. To ensure that a similar situation doesn’t arise in the future, O’Donnell has also been made to submit a range of his electronic devices for forensic examination in order to ensure that any assets relating to the case in his possession are deleted.

The composer has also been told pay Bungie any money that he has received from the sale of music uploaded to Bandcamp as well as the studio’s legal fees. While these fees are apparently still in dispute, they include both Bungie’s legal fees and the costs associated with the third-party forensic examination of his devices – a figure that Bungie reportedly argues is close to $100,000.

In order to ensure that damages caused by the composer’s previous uploads are limited, the court order states that O’Donnell must “post a message, the wording of which the parties agree to, on his Twitter, YouTube, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud sites/channels stating that he did not have legal authority to possessor provide material related to Music of the Spheres or Destiny and asking anyone who previously downloaded any such assets to delete them and refrain from sharing and will destroy any copies of them”.

While O’Donnell has not as of yet written such a message, the court order further says that upon doing so, the composer is not permitted to directly or indirectly comment on inquiries made surrounding the post and should instead, “let the message speak for itself”.

O’Donnell served as Bungie’s Audio Lead until 2014 when he was fired. As part of the subsequent lawsuit at the time, the composer was ordered to ensure that ‘all material’ in his possession relating to Destiny was returned to Bungie. In addition, the composer was also told at the time that he was not permitted to perform or share any music relating to either work.

In 2019, however, O’Donnell began uploading videos and other materials relating to Destiny – including the foundation of its score, Music of the Spheres – to his online socials. As part of this, O’Donnell posted tracks and an album titled “Sketches for MotS” to Bandcamp where fans of the composer could pay him a voluntary fee to support him.

As part of the Eurogamer report, Bungie took issue with O’Donnell’s possession of the materials, which it argued violated the 2015 injunction. Bungie then filed a contempt of court motion against the composer which, as reviewed by Eurogamer, reads, “Mr. O’Donnell’s very possession of such materials proves he did not comply with the order to return ‘all material’ to Bungie.”

On June 4, O’Donnell asked fans to consider purchasing his unrelated soundtrack for the PSVR game Golem, stating that the money raised would help with his huge legal bills.

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.