Music composer Halo Trilogy’s ongoing lawsuit against Microsoft

Music composer Halo Trilogy's ongoing lawsuit against Microsoft

A trial against Microsoft was filed in 2020 by O’Donnell/Salvatori Inc. (ODS). Marty O’ Donnell and Mike Salvatori, musical composers behind the legendary Halo franchises three early video game soundtracks, are suing over an alleged amount of money owed. In one Recent phone interview and web article with the pair, Eurogamer detailed the situation.

Watch the videos below to hear O’Donnell explain the early days of Halo theme song and see the music debut in Halo first trailer in 1999.

Although they’ve received payment for their work through royalties over the years, the success of the franchise doesn’t seem to match what the songwriters were being paid. Without accounting information explaining the units sold and the transactions made, “We started to have suspicions because we were like, ‘I think the Halo 2 the soundtrack really sold a lot, but we don’t have any numbers showing how many units were sold. How many digital downloads have taken place on Amazon, YouTube or iTunes? We don’t have numbers. And then the check we got seemed to be, okay, it doesn’t look like Microsoft is really making a lot of money. So we would say, ‘Could you tell us what the numbers are?’ And then they just wouldn’t. But of course, four months later, you got another little check, and just, “Here’s your amount.” But it wasn’t related to anything.”

Besides the recurring use of old IP addresses and associated music, ODS was also concerned about new uses of their licensed work. O’Donnell went on to say, “It just seemed to us, well, wait a minute, what about Halo 1 Anniversary? You made a whole new soundtrack. Then you made a whole new compilation. How much did you earn on it? And what happened when you made the anime version? And these other films that you have made, which are annexes? It’s not the game. They’re incidental to the game. They’ve made tons of different movies that had music in them. And video projects and all that. And we’ve never seen any accounting for that.” To clarify, O’Donnell said the lawsuit is,

Currently, it is a matter of determining exactly how much money is potentially owed before setting a dollar amount for damages. This is not, O’Donnell insisted, a claim of ownership over the Halo music.

There have been recent episodes of recognizable ODS music being used without acknowledgment or compensation. In 2021, Infinite Halo the video game came out and as far as O’Donnell knows, “They re-record all the music…and as far as I know they don’t even credit us”. Then over the past few weeks, Paramount Plus released a video that promoted not only the streaming service and its current content, but also the upcoming Halo TV shows.

This buzzing and singing that you hear is of course part of the music centered around this trial. According to the United States District Court, Western District of Washington in Seattle, “ODS brought six causes of action against Microsoft: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of fiduciary duty to develop royalty income in a joint venture; (3) failure to act in good faith and fairly; (4) failure to provide an accounting partnership; (5) unjust enrichment; and (6) tortious interference”. O’Donnell and Salvatori, “felt quite disrespectful”, due to the recent Paramount video that prompted them to,

instruct their lawyers to explore the possibility of obtaining an injunction to block the broadcast of the television program.

The two parties to this dispute are due to meet later this year to set trial dates. According to Eurogamer, Microsoft declined to comment on the subject when asked.


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