"They're not crediting us or giving us 20 percent": composers of Halo trilogy sue Microsoft for royalties
Marty O'Donnell and Mike Salvatori, composers of the original Halo trilogy, have sued Microsoft for unpaid royalties, going as far back as 20 years. If the lawsuit remains unresolved, it can potentially stop the airing of the highly anticipated Halo TV series that is set to come out on Paramount+ on March 24, 2022.
According to O'Donnell, Halo’s iconic music was licensed to Bungie by the two composers operating under the banner of “O'Donnell Salvatori Inc.” before Microsoft bought the company. After Bungie’s acquisition, the pair sold Halo’s music rights to Microsoft and, in exchange, Microsoft agreed to pay 20% of the royalties from non-gaming use and a quarterly accounting review. But although the due received royalty cheques from Microsoft, they didn’t get the quarterly accounting reviews that the company had reportedly agreed upon.
“And then the cheque we would get seemed like, okay, if this is 20 percent, then it doesn't seem like Microsoft is really making much money. So we would say, 'Could you guys tell us what the numbers are?' And then they just wouldn't. But sure enough, four months later, you would get another little cheque, and just, 'Here's your amount.' But it wasn't connected to anything,” O'Donnell explained in an interview given to Eurogamer.
O'Donnell and Salvatori are also upset for not being credited for creating the original music that has been reenacted in Halo Infinite and the upcoming Paramount+ Halo series. “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.”, explained O'Donnell.
The current lawsuit against Microsoft is not for the ownership of the music but to find out how much money does the company owes the duo. While the case is currently in the mediation phase, if the parties don’t reach a deal, it will go to court. And if the case does go to court, the airing of the Halo TV series can also be blocked as the composers have reportedly instructed their lawyers to look into the possibility.