Yeah, GL is an ass. They eventually released the original, unaltered original trilogy, but used a really, really poor master and didn't bother cleaning it up the print.
Didn't they claim it was because the original master no longer exists because it was physically chopped up for the 1997 remasters?
I guess nobody can save GL from himself. SW was one of the films chosen for preservation by Library of Congress, wasn't it? And yet it wasn't preserved?
Add to that the huge cleanup effort in 97 (which cost as much as the whole first film itself) for rerelease, which was documented in American Cinematographer ... the film elements were re-comped, and the filmstock used for dissolves was for crap over time, but I don't see how the negatives would be compromised by any of this.