Halo's OG Composers Are Suing Microsoft Over 20 Years Of Unpaid Royalties

It's being reported by Eurogamer today that the original composers on Halo are suing Microsoft over 20 years' worth of unpaid royalties, and it could even potentially have an effect on the release of the upcoming Halo TV show.

Marty O'Donnell and Mike Salvatori filed a suit against Microsoft back in 2020, and a date for mediation takes place next week, with the potential to go to court if an agreement can't be reached. In addition, the pair are reportedly trying to "explore the possibility of blocking the release of the upcoming TV show with a preliminary injunction."

O'Donnell and Salvatori say they "created and licensed the Halo music to Bungie", whereas Microsoft says it was "work-for-hire" and therefore the company qualifies as the author of it, which is where the dispute about royalties stems from.

Here's just a sample of what O'Donnell had to say about the situation:

"It was never work-for-hire. It was always a licence deal. So that's what we did with Halo. With the first Halo music ever, that was written and recorded in 1999 for the first time. It was licensed to Bungie. Bungie didn't get bought by Microsoft for over a year."

"At the time, the Halo music, for this very nascent beginning thing called Halo, was still owned by O'Donnell Salvatori and licensed to Bungie."

Despite what this might suggest, O'Donnell says that the dispute isn't about a claim of ownership over the Halo music, but rather a case of trying to figure out how much money is owed to the pair, and settling on an amount for damages.

In regards to the Halo TV show, he says he "felt disrespected" when he saw the trailers for it, saying "[they're] using our monk chant (calling it the theme to Halo) to also advertise and solicit subscriptions for Paramount+."

Part of the disgruntlement also relates to the release of Halo Infinite last year:

"I haven't seen Mike's name or my name on any of the [Halo Infinite] pieces. Most people know, well, this is Marty and Mike's music, right? I mean, people who care about it or paid attention, they go, 'Hey, this is great. We're hearing Marty and Mike's music again.' But they're not crediting us or giving us 20 percent or accounting for it or anything. So part of the lawsuit is to discover what the damages should be."

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[source eurogamer.net]