Ex-Bungie composer Marty O'Donnell, who worked on Halo and Destiny for the company, has been found in contempt of court over his use and possession of Destiny assets. The Washington King County Superior Court has imposed sanctions on him as a result.
Why has Marty O'Donnell been found in contempt of court over Destiny assets?
This story comes courtesy of Eurogamer, who confirmed that O'Donnell was served with legal papers by the King County court earlier this year. According to Eurogamer, content related to Destiny-adjacent composition Music of the Spheres (a long-unavailable composition leaked online in 2017 and then officially released in 2018) was uploaded to several social media platforms in O'Donnell's name, including YouTube and Bandcamp. In 2015, after an acrimonious lawsuit surrounding O'Donnell's exit from Bungie, the composer was ordered to hand over all assets related to Destiny and Music of the Spheres, including demos, sketches of songs or pieces, and everything else he might own. Despite this, an upload titled "Sketches for MotS" (Music of the Spheres) appeared on Bandcamp, and O'Donnell apparently also uploaded individual tracks related to the game and the piece.
Eurogamer says that O'Donnell has been hit with a number of sanctions as a result of breaching the order. He owes Bungie almost $100,000 in legal fees, an amount his representatives apparently argue is disproportionate. He's also been ordered to give Bungie any money he earned as a result of uploading the Destiny and Music of the Spheres-related content to Bandcamp. In addition, Eurogamer says the court has ordered O'Donnell must submit to a "third-party forensic examination" of his devices to prove he's deleted all assets related to Bungie's game. Finally, O'Donnell must publicly announce that he didn't have any legal right to post the content he uploaded and request that anyone who downloaded it delete it and refrain from sharing it.
What has Marty O'Donnell's response to this announcement been?
According to Eurogamer, O'Donnell has refused to respond to a request for comment. His representatives' comment that the fees he's been ordered to pay are unreasonable is the only response he's made publicly to the declaration so far. He's not silent on Twitter, though; despite his legal tussles with Bungie, he wished them a happy 30th anniversary a little while back, and has also tweeted some commemorative statements regarding his work on the original Halo games. A few months ago, O'Donnell tweeted that he was considering retirement from the games industry, declaring that he had "huge legal fees". He also said he might have to shut down his YouTube channel, telling curious parties to "ask (Bungie CEO) Pete Parsons" why this might be. It looks like now we know the reason.
At time of writing, O'Donnell hasn't complied with Bungie's request to post a message explaining that he didn't have the right to upload the Destiny and Music of the Spheres assets. The content is no longer available on his Bandcamp or YouTube pages, though. Right now, O'Donnell is working on the revival of controversial first-person shooter Six Days in Fallujah, which is also being worked on by staff who had a hand in developing the original Halo. With that in mind, O'Donnell doesn't appear to be making good on his suggestion that he might retire from the games industry just yet. However, what happens to Six Days in Fallujah remains to be seen, as we haven't heard much about the game since its re-emergence earlier this year.
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