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Former Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell found in contempt of court over use of Destiny assets

Apr 28, 2020
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Jesus, they apparently want $100K from him.


Composer Marty O'Donnell has been found in contempt of court over his use of Destiny assets and now owes Bungie tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, Eurogamer can reveal.

In April this year, Bungie served the celebrated composer behind the original Halo music with contempt of court papers over videos related to Destiny that were uploaded to O'Donnell's YouTube channel and other platforms.

Some of these videos were early musical sketches of what became Music of the Spheres, the much-loved musical foundation for 2014's Destiny.

The contempt of court claim relates to the terms of a prior lawsuit between Bungie and O'Donnell over his acrimonious exit from the company - a lawsuit O'Donnell eventually won.

Bungie said O'Donnell, who was Bungie's veteran audio director until he was fired in April 2014, was ordered to return all material related to Music of the Spheres and Destiny, and was blocked from sharing or performing it as part of a 2015 injunction.

Bungie said "all material" includes not just Music of the Spheres in their final state, but all versions, components and variations of the tracks - that is, all material involved in any way in the creation of Music of the Spheres and Destiny.

Fast forward to 2019, when O'Donnell began uploading videos and other materials relating to Music of the Spheres and Destiny to his YouTube channel, as well as Bandcamp.

"Mr. O'Donnell's very possession of such materials proves he did not comply with the order to return 'all material' to Bungie," Bungie's motion, reviewed by Eurogamer, reads.

Bungie also noted O'Donnell posted tracks and an album titled "Sketches for MotS" to Bandcamp, where users were able to pay him a fee if they wanted to.

Bungie argued all this activity amounted to a contempt of court and a violation of the 2015 injunction. The court agreed, and on 12th July, judge Regina Cahan of the Superior Court of Washington King County ruled in Bungie's favour:

"Mr. O'Donnell intentionally disobeyed, and is hereby held in contempt of, the September 17, 2015 order confirming and enforcing final arbitration award (the "Order") entered in this Matter."

A representative of Bungie said the company is unable to comment on ongoing litigation, but pointed to the court's ruling, above. O'Donnell declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer.

The court has now imposed upon O'Donnell a number of sanctions, including a third-party forensic examination of his electronic devices in order to delete any assets relating to Destiny or Music of the Spheres.

O'Donnell must also remove all the relevant material from the internet (he's already done this, if you were wondering where that all went from his YouTube channel). O'Donnell must also write to any third-party he is aware of who also posted the material to ask them to remove it.

O'Donnell is also ordered to "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".

"Mr. O'Donnell will refrain from making any direct or indirect public comment regarding these posts, including responses to those inquiring regarding basis for such posts, and will let the message speak for itself," the court order reads.

O'Donnell has so far not done this.
 

nikolino840

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Dec 30, 2018
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Yup, this sucks. Not a good look for Bungie and a big mistake by Marty.
Even if he create music he create for the company...is a law even in italy...if a worker create something (a draw,a project....) the propriety belong to the company...he get paid for the work
 

TheDreadBaron

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Oct 27, 2019
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This doesn’t seem right. Sure, he was pushing the envelope and maybe he just wanted the music out there, but they’re sending government officials to delete the art off his harddrive? What the fuck, watch out if you sign a contract with the devil.
 

th4tguy

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Feb 17, 2013
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Even if he create music he create for the company...is a law even in italy...if a worker create something (a draw,a project....) the propriety belong to the company...he get paid for the work
Correct. It’s the same in the states. Big mistake by Marty.
 

Punished Miku

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This guy seems really good at pissing people off and making enemies. 🤷‍♂️
 

th4tguy

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When there's money involved companies don't look anyone in the face.......like the ferengis in star trek.....
Company’s wouldn’t normally take this to court. They would work with you outside of court to correct the issue. They know it looks bad.
This went to court for two reasons:
1: bad blood between them and Marty
2: I’m positive Marty wasn’t willing to comply with request by Bungie to take stuff down.
 

th4tguy

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Feb 17, 2013
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Why is this not a good look for Bungie? I see absolutely nothing wrong with what they did and what compensation they're asking for. This falls completely on O'Donnell.
It's never a good PR look for a company to go after an individual for a high dollar amount. Generally companies avoid it as much as possible.
In this case, Marty is still very much loved in the Halo community and seen as a victim to changes made at Bungie that a lot of the community did/do not like.
Taking him to court and having him pay 100k will upset people.
With that said, Marty was totally in the wrong here and probably forced Bungie's hand to take him to court. The fact that all Bungie is making him pay is court fees and insuring a 3rd party insures all of the mentioned materials are returned/ destroyed tells me that Bungie didn't actually want this to go to court.
 

Toots

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Apr 23, 2021
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Paris, 🇫🇷
Why is this not a good look for Bungie? I see absolutely nothing wrong with what they did and what compensation they're asking for. This falls completely on O'Donnell.
It’s a bad look because being entitled to act like a corporate douche doesn’t mean you should act like one…
 
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It’s a bad look because being entitled to act like a corporate douche doesn’t mean you should act like one…
A bad look to who exactly? Do you actually think any meaningful gamer out there is going to stop playing or buying their games because the lawfully sued someone for using their paid for property?

To be honest, the only time it would be a bad look for them is if they allowed it to happen. It would allow anyone else to do the same and use what Marty did as precedence not to be sued by them.

Just like how Nintendo is ruthless agains any fan work or infringement of their IP. It NEEDS to be done or they suffer as a business.
 
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TrueLegend

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If at your professional work, you are not being professional at least act professionally when a court is involved.
 

jakinov

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This doesn’t seem right. Sure, he was pushing the envelope and maybe he just wanted the music out there, but they’re sending government officials to delete the art off his harddrive? What the fuck, watch out if you sign a contract with the devil.
He sued Bungie and when he won but had to delete everything [in good faith]. He didn't and ended up distributing it too. Now they have to do it by force because he can't be trusted. Government officials enforce the law and court rulings.
 

TheMay30thMan

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TheDreadBaron

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He sued Bungie and when he won but had to delete everything [in good faith]. He didn't and ended up distributing it too. Now they have to do it by force because he can't be trusted. Government officials enforce the law and court rulings.
Yeah I get that part, it just seems vulgar to me.
 
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Toots

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A bad look to who exactly? Do you actually think any meaningful gamer out there is going to stop playing or buying their games because the lawfully sued someone for using their paid for property?

To be honest, the only time it would be a bad look for them is if they allowed it to happen. It would allow anyone else to do the same and use what Marty did as precedence not to be sued by them.

Just like how Nintendo is ruthless agains any fan work or infringement of their IP. It NEEDS to be done or they suffer as a business.
Even if O’Donnell is a bitter manchild he’s still one guy against corporates cunts. I really don’t think using an old demo of your work on your YouTube channel is putting a Microsoft backed studio survival in jeopardy.
It’s about mesure.
Nintendo’s ruthlessness against fan work, especially fan translation, i find counterproductive. Make them look like greedy cunts. I totally understand when they go against dudes who make money selling roms of their ips mind you.
But again you don’t have to act like a greedy cunt just because you’re entitled to.
Edit : if he distributed stuff he should not have with the direct intent to mess with his ex employer then he deserves everything coming to him
 
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TheDreadBaron

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Even if O’Donnell is a bitter manchild he’s still one guy against corporates cunts. I really don’t think using an old demo of your work on your YouTube channel is putting a Microsoft backed studio survival in jeopardy.
It’s about mesure.
Nintendo’s ruthlessness against fan work, especially fan translation, i find counterproductive. Make them look like greedy cunts. I totally understand when they go against dudes who make money selling roms of their ips mind you.
But again you don’t have to act like a greedy cunt just because you’re entitled to.
Edit : if he distributed stuff he should not have with the direct intent to mess with his ex employer then he deserves everything coming to him
It’s a no win scenario for Marty. He wanted to be paid for his work and also have it see the light of day, but they want to squash it out of spite since they had to pay for it. He tried to have it both ways, understandable from an artist’s perspective if they’re just gonna lock his work up.
 
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LRKD

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Marty is in the wrong legally, but I think it's really lame so many Destiny fans are hating on him for this. Like really, the guy gave you soundtracks and cool stuff you would've never seen otherwise, and now so many of them are pleased he's 'getting fucked', smh.
 
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Trimesh

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It’s a no win scenario for Marty. He wanted to be paid for his work and also have it see the light of day, but they want to squash it out of spite since they had to pay for it. He tried to have it both ways, understandable from an artist’s perspective if they’re just gonna lock his work up.

That's always the situation with a work for hire, though. If they paid for it, they own it, and are perfectly within their rights to ask him to take it down. There is presumably some backstory here we don't know, but at the very least ignoring an actual court order was an extremely dumb thing to do.
 

Chris_Rivera

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Marty is in the wrong legally, but I think it's really lame so many Destiny fans are hating on him for this. Like really, the guy gave you soundtracks and cool stuff you would've never seen otherwise, and now so many of them are pleased he's 'getting fucked', smh.
People like the music and probably recognize they could have got much more, but they also know when a guy‘s hubris is a problem.

I personally haven’t seen anyone “hating“ on him, but if not kissing ass is what you mean than I guess so. He’d be creating music for Bungie today, still, if he didn’t react like he was the 5th member of the Beatles.
 
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zaanan

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I would expect no less from a leadership team that developed a game for Mac, sold themselves to Microsoft, released it on Xbox instead, churned out sequel upon sequel, bought themselves back from MS, sold themselves to Activision, developed a game with a rich story but ripped it all out until it was a hollow shell, developed a sequel, bought themselves back, and as yet have not shown a marked difference from their former overlords. Marty, I love you, and the best Halo and Destiny music is yours, but you have to pick your battles, you dumb fuck.
 

Hendrick's

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This doesn’t seem right. Sure, he was pushing the envelope and maybe he just wanted the music out there, but they’re sending government officials to delete the art off his harddrive? What the fuck, watch out if you sign a contract with the devil.
It’s clearly vindictive.
 
Oct 26, 2018
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This music guy was wrong. If courts told him before to get rid of the material because it's not his but company material, then get rid of it. And according to the description was even posting it and making money off it. Thats the worst thing you can do with company protected material.

It's like working at a company doing artwork for packaging.

If you leave the company (you don't even need a court order to tell you what to do) and take your old art with you to a new company and then make packaging exactly like the old company's stuff, you'll probably get sued too. In that case, the company would get sued, not you. So in a way wont be anything out of your pocket (but you might get fired).

But in this case, there's a court order and he's getting sued at a personal level.

Looks like the guy is stubborn and tried to wing it hoping Bungie wouldn't go after him. And no doubt the bad blood between them made them go after him more.

Be an asshole, get treated like an asshole.

I've seen vindictive stuff before at companies when people leave or get fired. The ones who leave a bad taste in the employers mouths always seem to get hassled or the short end of the stick. But for people who have good standing, I've seen them want to leave the company and talk with management about an agreed upon severance package where it was him who wanted to quit (not fired). And they still were willing to send him off in a nice way. Most companies would just say too bad. You want to leave then leave on your own.

There's other people too who were super loved vets and when it comes to those old timers getting a package to leave because they are like 60 years old, I've seen companies tell them to stick around for a pay out and dont retire on your own which you were planning to do end of year. Wink wink. Let us fire you later this year and you'll get like 18 months pay out by corporate.
 
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The court has now imposed upon O'Donnell a number of sanctions, including a third-party forensic examination of his electronic devices in order to delete any assets relating to Destiny or Music of the Spheres.

O'Donnell must also remove all the relevant material from the internet (he's already done this, if you were wondering where that all went from his YouTube channel). O'Donnell must also write to any third-party he is aware of who also posted the material to ask them to remove it.

O'Donnell is also ordered to "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".
LOL
 
Oct 1, 2020
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It's never a good PR look for a company to go after an individual for a high dollar amount. Generally companies avoid it as much as possible.
Agreed, it just comes across as bullying, even if it's actually justice.

It's all in the public perception, after all. That's where justice lies.
 
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Agreed, it just comes across as bullying, even if it's actually justice.

It's all in the public perception, after all. That's where justice lies.
True. But companies will make a stand at some point. Doesnt help Marty they were already arguing and suing each other already years back. If Marty didn't publicly post it and made money off it, nobody would know or care if he secretly had the info on his personal PC and all he did was listen to it his oldies every night at home.

You dont even need to be court ordered or a former employee to be reprimanded for bad actions.

Every company I've worked at, we get free stuff now and then. The purpose is its a modest employee perk. If people find out youre selling this shit out of your house, you can get your ass fired. One guy did.

The company is clear saying it's for personal USE. Not for making a business out of it making profit.

Now if the guy gave away stuff for free, the company probably wouldnt care. Everyone who works at a place getting free stuff will give away extra stuff to friends and fam. But if you're stockpiling freebies to sell on eBay, youll get called out on it.
 
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He was court ordered to return or destroy all material related to Destiny. Legally the guy should not have been in possession of it - even for personal use at home.
I think the court order about telling his social media accounts it's not his material is too lenient. It should also state:

"The courts think I - Marty O'Donnell - is so untrustworthy in life, my electronic devices are being examined by forensic experts to find stolen Bungie music I wouldn't delete"
 
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93xfan

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Loved old Bungie, during the Halo days at least. Current Bungie are led by scumbags though.

 

Black_Stride

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It’s clearly vindictive.
You think the court is being vindictive?
Because, the court is the one dictating the sanctions.
If anything Marty was being vindictive by redistributing music he knew was supposed to be have been deleted.

Ah sorta HAHA not only did I win the case, I also still have your music and now im gonna party with it look at me.
 

Shut0wen

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Lmao what a legend marty is, he knew this would happen and literally posted every ost for the game, fuck bungie