Basically, what happened was that Matt, a YouTuber dedicated to Star Wars lore, has taken it upon himself to spend his own money to produce a fan film revolving around Darth Vader’s psychology and his relationship with Emperor Palpatine.
Where the controversy lies is when Lucasfilm, which was sold to Disney, put a copyright claim on the first episode, even though the video was already de-monetized. This caused the YouTube channel Star Wars Theory to receive a strike and potentially jeopardized the production of the fan film.
Although Disney ordered Lucasfilm to refrain from the claim after massive backlash from the fans, the backlash should not easily dissipate.
Disney already set their standards when Matt asked for permission. No monetization. No crowd-funding. No rights or ownership over the content. They did not need to push more standards when the film was already being uploaded. If the opposite circumstance happened and Matt violated the standards, you can bet that Disney would have the Force power of Emperor Palpatine and would Force-lift all of the courthouses and hurl them at him (which is an interesting comparison to make).
If a giant corporation worth billions of dollars is going to abuse its powers on a fan film that was produced with $80,000, then this should not slide. That type of action is about as dignified as the most powerful Force user in the galaxy battling younglings who can barely learn the Force. Because there is a tight budget on the film, that claim could have ceased the production of the future episodes. So who is to say that Lucasfilm or Disney itself would not put the same claims on future episodes?
An advice should be given to any giant corporation that purchases the rights of a company like Lucasfilm. When you acquire ownership over a franchise like “Star Wars,” you not only have to deal with potential future audiences, but entire generations of audiences. The fans, devoted or casual, helped create the following that the franchise had, whether through Expanded Universe novels or working the dialogue into everyday speech.
This YouTuber especially represents this because he is helping to keep your brand relevant in the midst of culture war controversies with Episodes VII and VIII. You should WANT him to be the internet influencer who is keeping YOUR franchise alive. You should encourage this YouTuber to continue with his project, which he himself had stated that it was never about the money, rather about the love and dedication to the franchise.
I can understand that Matt was cool with Disney as soon as the claim was lifted, since he sounds like a nice guy. However, I do not have any solutions to keep Disney at its word, other than that the fandom should not forget the day that Disney disregarded their own standards to go after a YouTuber, and it should most definitely affect the turn-out for Episode IX.
What I want to say to Matt and all of the people who have worked diligently on this fan film is this: May the Force be with you, because you’re going to need it for any more controversies with Lucasfilm or Disney.