Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past has been saved by Lucasfilm. Outrage amongst hardcore Star Wars fans started to spread earlier this week when it was revealed that Warner/ Chappel Publishing, who handles Walt Disney Music’s publishing, put a copyright claim on the excellent Darth Vader fan film after the creator had reached out to Lucasfilm and asked for permission. Fans were so hurt by the decision and the way that it was handled, that they planned a Star Wars 9 boycott.
The Star Wars Theory YouTube channel created Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past and released it on December 20th. In the short amount of time that it has been up, it has been watched nearly 7 million times. The channel creator, Toos received a copyright strike from Disney for music that reportedly sounded too close to John Williams’ “Imperial March” theme. However, Toos had hired a composer to make original music that was inspired by Williams’ work and had already talked to Lucasfilm about making the movie.
Thankfully, a representative from Lucasfilm spoke to someone at either Warner/Chappel or Disney and had the copyright strike lifted from Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past. When the copyright infringement was issued, Disney monetized the video, which Lucasfilm told Toos was not allowed. The studio was reportedly able to earn $80,000 from monetizing the fan-made movie on their own. However, the ads have also been taken from the video, meaning that nobody is profiting from the project, which is the way that it was supposed to be in the first place.
Star Wars fans from all over the world started to spread Toos’ story around social media. As the story spread, so did anger, especially after Toos’ was threatened with legal action, which included taking down the Star Wars Theory YouTube channel. This was far different from fans trying to take down Disney in a trolling effort, this was hardcore fans, who are passionate about the franchise, standing up for something that George Lucas would have encouraged. Threats of a Star Wars 9 boycott, along with the rest of the upcoming Disney slate of releases seems to have gotten to the people at the top.
George Lucas had no idea that Star Wars was going to become a religion for some when he made A New Hope in 1977. However, the filmmaker has embraced what the fans bring to the table in terms of continuing to tell unofficial stories that aren’t made with profit in mind. It’s cool to see that someone from Lucasfilm stepped up to the plate to help Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past, but it would be nice if Toos received an apology from someone at Warner/Chappel or Disney for the whole debacle. Regardless, the right thing has been done, and it didn’t take too long to happen. You can check out the video announcing the good news below, thanks to the Star Wars Theory YouTube channel.