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Destiny Composer Wins Legal Battle Against Bungie

There’s a lot to unpack here.

Last year, Marty O’Donnell, the man behind the iconic Halo theme and the music for Destiny, was let go from Bungie. It was a move that shocked everyone, including himself. In June of last year, he filed a lawsuit against Bungie’s president Harold Ryan claiming he was terminated without cause and Ryan withheld pay for vacation and sabbatical.

This all supposedly began in 2010 when Activision and Bungie agreed to make a five part game franchise set for release in 2013 (Destiny was later released the following year). O’Donnell has composed the music for “every application of the Destiny franchise” dubbed Music of the Spheres. Court papers say Activision didn’t want to release it as a standalone work and during prep for E3 2013, Activision took care of trailer work and used different music than what O’Donnell had made. He didn’t take that well and believed the publisher overstepped its role by assuming artistic control. O’Donnell tweeted during E3 that year that Activision provided the music, not him, and allegedly threatened other Bungie employees to keep the trailer from being posted online. He even interrupted press briefings.


This didn’t exactly win him many friends over at Activision or Bungie, most particularly Ryan, who (along with other Bungie management) believed O’Donnell was putting his own personal interest over the company’s. Ryan recommended that he be fired in the employee review, but O’Donnell objected because there was no hard evidence of damage to the Bungie-Activision relationship. Destiny was pushed back, and Bungie sets the process to terminate him in motion. With the lawsuit won, O’Donnell is owed $142,500 for his work in 2014, but O’Donnell isn’t allowed to publish any music related to Destiny unless he gets the permission from the copyright owners.

This is all…wow. It certainly changes the context of the entire thing from what we already knew. Let us know what you think about all of this in the comments below.

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