It was a confusing time, with no domestic Laserdisc release of TPM either, yet one could buy the Japanese pressing or Video CD online.
I wonder what 2001 OT DVD releases would have been like.
From my oft-wrong memory… it also took some persuading from those around Lucas to even get an OT DVD set in 2004 released - it seemed it was a response to the many DVD bootlegs of the Trilogy on DVD being easily available in the Far East - and also available to import quite cheaply on many independent online shops back then… for a good price. In the early 2000’s the ‘Look’ and ‘Five Star’ bootleg versions, amongst others, were not too difficult to find and acquire around the rest of the world.
Edit: An old website, by an old friend of this one, from around that time-frame, may shine some more light on the subject…
Prillaman’s Star Wars DVD Reviews site - http://www.prillaman.net/starwarsdvdreviews.html