YouTube Star Wars Theory Has Vader Fan Film Struck Down by Disney Music Publisher (UPDATE)

UPDATE: In a new video on the StarWarsTheory channel, Toos told his fans that the claim on his video had been lifted due in part to the intervention of LucasFilm."They stepped up and told Disney or the other company that this wasn't okay, that this wasn't going to stand," Toos says in the video.

YouTube channel Star Wars Theory makes videos discussing, dissecting and analyzing every facet of the sci-fi franchise. The owner of the channel, Toos, has been posting Star Wars videos on his channel since 2016. His first post was a theory about what if Emperor Palpatine was actually Snoke in The Force Awakens.

Since then, he's been sleeping "for maybe three hours a night," he told Newsweek. Combing over every inch of the expanded Star Wars mythos, he discusses serious questions like if Darth Vader feels his cybernetics or why Count Dooku turned to the dark side. Star Wars Theory has ballooned since then, gathering 1.4 million subscribers and tens of thousands of views daily.

In February 2017, Toos started work on his most ambitious project to date: a Star Wars fan film about corrupted Darth Vader. He contacted Danny Ramirez to direct and they began planning the production. Before the camera started rolling Toos said he contacted an employee at Lucasfilm and asked if he could make the film. And if he could monetize it.

Toos' claims Lucasfilm gave him permission on two conditions: he couldn't crowdfund and he couldn't monetize the fan film on YouTube. Toos agreed to those conditions and shot for three full days in September. They ran post-production up until the release of "Vader Episode 1: Shards of the Past" on December 20. Star Wars fans, a notoriously tough group to please, had overwhelming praise for the video, which gathered more than six million views in one month and 40,000 likes.

On January 14, music group and corporate collective Warner/Chappell filed a copyright claim against the video. After filing the claim, the company (publisher for the Walt Disney Music Company) began to collect ad revenue for Toos' video by claiming that one of the songs used a rendition of "The Imperial March." If Toos attempts to appeal and Warner/Chappell refutes his claim, he could get a copyright strike on his channel and lose complete ownership of the video.

"In the last two weeks, I would have made $80,000 on the video," Toos said in a video released the same day. Toos told Newsweek that he spent $150,000 on the musical composer, actors, producers, lightsaber graphics and more.

He claims in the same video that "this isn't about the money, it's about the principle." He also said someone working for or associated with Warner/Chappell manually claimed his video, "which is very vindictive and very rude."

Disney does not own Warner/Chappell, the music group merely licenses their music. StarWarsHub goes into greater detail on fan creators experiences with Warner/Chappell in the past, including striking down a video of the Imperial Throne Room medal scene without any music.

Fan response on reddit has been massive, with the post about Star Wars Theory and the strike reaching over 90,000 upvotes. "YouTube's copyright system is so prone to abuse it hurts more than it helps," wrote one user. "Pray I don't monetize it further," wrote another parodying one of Vader's classic lines.

The next day, Toos posted an update video saying that some at Warner/Chappell had contacted his Network, Bentpixels (which he says "is like his agency"). "If you appeal this decision, then it's ours and we are going to take the money from it, then we're going to strike your channel and delete the video," Toos said. Three strikes on his channel could lead to it's deletion and to him it's not worth the risk.

"I didn't care much for any response from Disney or Lucasfilm," Toos told Newsweek. "I made it for the fans." He believes that Star Wars fans are "treasure" and that they "work for the fandom."

Newsweek has reached out to Disney and Warner/Chappell and will update this story with their comment.