This is a good question, so I'm gonna reply even though this is days old: In 1997 when the Special Edition was made, editing was still mostly done by analog processes; physical cutting apart film and putting it back together. The technology to make a digital copy and manipulate that entirely existed, but Lucas chose not to use it. This wasn't entirely because he was an ass; the digitization process was still very nacent. And if you make an analog copy of the master, to use as your re-release master, then the rerelease ends up looking lower in quality than the original. That said, there are plenty of techniques that can be used to recover the original even if Lucasfilm destroyed theirs. You can take multiple preserved theatrical releases, scan them frame by frame, and perform digital merge operations that after processing, produces something that's so close to perfect that only massive audiophiles and their photography equivalents will have any reason to bitch.