Since the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story it is fair to say that the Star Wars fandom has been divided in their opinion towards Disney's vision of Star Wars. While J. J. Abrams' somewhat over-referential vision of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was generally well received, Rian Johnsons' subversion of expectations in its sequel and the production woes behind the scenes of Solo: A Star Wars Story have caused some fans to question whether Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm and the promotion of Kathleen Kennedy as the production companies president was a good idea. With Abrams having succeeded Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow as the director of, the as-of-yet untitled Star Wars: Episode IX and the revelation of Jon Favreau's hotly anticipated live-action serial The Mandalorian some fans dared to believe that Disney and Lucasfilm had learned from the fan backlash and would embrace and respect their fandom. Sadly recent news has shown otherwise.
Recently Canadian YouTuber Star Wars Theory produced a fan film short titled Vader Episode I: Shards of the Past (above). Prior to producing this fan film SWT (Star Wars Theory) reportedly reached out to Lucasfilm but was told he could not crowdfund the funds needed for the production, and that he could not charge for broadcasting the short or monetize the video of the short on any platform. In summary, SWT was allowed to produce the short film but at his own expense. SWT accepted these conditions and produced, marketed and even paid for a venue to freely broadcast his short fan film.
The response to Shards of the Past has been mostly positive, and was even the primary talking point on both Colliders Jedi Council stream and Rule of Two podcast, yet here we are less than a month since the short was released with Disney once again showing how out of touch they are with the Star Wars fandom with the revelation that Disney (among others) have successfully processed a claimed on SWT's short fan film reportedly based upon the similarity of the shorts score to that of John Williams' Imperial March. As such Shards of the Past is now monetized with all subsequently generated funds going to Disney (as explained by SWT below).
Understandably SWT and the Star Wars fandom at large is outraged at Disney. While Lucasfilm, and by extension Disney are fully within their legal rights to earn money from the intellectual properties they own, the fact that such privileges were not extended to the video's author SWT to recuperate his production costs, and did not come into effect when the video was launched but only after the short had amassed a sizeable audience (6.4 million views as of posting this article) has been interpreted by many as sheer greed on Disney's part.
Thankfully SWT has said that regardless of Disney's conduct he is still dtermined to deliver the next episode in his planned Vader fan film series.
What will be Disney and/or Lucasfilm's response to the negative backlash of this shameful act? Will Disney/Lucasfilm even attempt to mend their already damaged public image with the fandom and audiences at large? Is this proof that Disney and Lucasfilm care not for the fans and only for profit margins?