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Halo and Destiny’s original composer asks fans to destroy copies of his music

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Martin O’Donnell gives a court-approved statement to resolve another legal dispute

Martin O’Donnell appearing at the Experience Music Project in Seattle during April 2016. Photo: Paul Conrad/WireImage

Martin O’Donnell, the former Halo and Destiny composer whom Bungie fired in 2014, this weekend asked fans to take down, stop sharing, and even destroy copies of his non-commercial work for the Destiny franchise, which he had been sharing online since 2019.

“This material is owned by Bungie,” O’Donnell said, reading a court-approved statement that resulted from a legal action earlier this fall. “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.”

In September, O’Donnell was found in contempt of court in Washington state for violating the terms of a 2015 injunction forbidding him from sharing or performing any of his music related to Destiny or “Music of the Spheres.”

O’Donnell joined Bungie in 1999 and produced the music for Oni and Bungie’s Halo games until 2010’s Halo: Reach. Originally, he and longtime collaborator Michael Salvatori (as well as The Beatles’ Paul McCartney) were to develop “Music of the Spheres” as the soundtrack to span all of the Destiny series, which Bungie was developing for Activision. But the publisher elected not to use that music to promote the first game at E3, leading to a series of incidents, some of them carried out in public view, which led to Bungie firing O’Donnell.

Although O’Donnell won a subsequent wrongful termination lawsuit in 2015, he was still ordered to return all material related to Destiny and “Music of the Spheres,” whether finished work, drafts, or otherwise. But at the end of 2017, the soundtrack made its way online — and O’Donnell himself said “no one in the world can prevent me from giving you my blessing” to share the music.

At the time, two teenagers who had been trying to recreate “Music of the Spheres” from publicly available material said they had been contacted “by someone with a copy of Music of the Spheres who wanted it to be public,” Kotaku reported. The two did not name their source.

Bungie then officially released Destiny’s original soundtrack in 2018, and in 2019, O’Donnell started uploading music and other content related to that work on his YouTube and Bandcamp channels. That brought a contempt-of-court challenge from Bungie this spring, a ruling in Bungie’s favor in September, and now this note to fans (as well as a $100,000 penalty against O’Donnell).

O’Donnell is credited, along with Salvatori, McCartney, and C. Paul Johnson, on the first Destiny OST. His most recent video game soundtrack is for the PlayStation VR title Golem, developed by Highwire Games, a studio he co-founded in 2015.