SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
There's some anger in Canada after Netflix used clips of a real-life rail disaster in Quebec in two of the network's science fiction films. Netflix has apologized but says it will not remove the footage from the hit alien invasion movie "Bird Box." North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports.
BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: In 2013, an American-owned oil train crashed in the tiny Canadian hamlet of Lac-Megantic. Locals captured part of the disaster on video that went viral.
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MANN: The village's downtown was incinerated. Forty-seven people died. Then, a few weeks ago, Canadians started seeing that same footage with roiling clouds of orange fire and smoke again on their TV screens - not on newscasts or in documentaries, but in sci-fi stories.
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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) U.S. authorities are advising the public to remain calm.
SANDRA BULLOCK: (As Malorie) Oh, it's in Russia, so...
SARAH PAULSON: (As Jessica) Well, try telling that to the soccer moms fighting...
MANN: That's from the hit movie "Bird Box," with Sandra Bullock, on Netflix. The footage appears in a fake newscast. It was used a second time for the Netflix sci-fi series "Travelers."
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ERIC MCCORMACK: (As Grant MacLaren) My consciousness was sent from the distant future.
MANN: In that series, Netflix used the Lac-Megantic footage in another fake newscast to portray a nuclear attack on London. Lac-Megantic Mayor Julie Morin declined to speak with NPR, but she issued a statement calling use of the video unethical and saying the images show her community's worst day, a day we are still working hard to recover from. Pierre Nantel is an MP who spoke on the floor of Canada's parliament, heard here through an interpreter.
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PIERRE NANTEL: (Through interpreter) The House had denounced that the use of the tragedy - images from the tragedy of Lac-Megantic and require that Netflix...
MANN: Canada's parliament unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution demanding Netflix remove the video clip from their films and compensate the people of Lac-Megantic. But some commentators in Canada have pointed out that stock footage of real disasters has been used by Hollywood in entertainment films for years. This from the Canadian version of the program "Entertainment Tonight."
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GRAEME O’NEIL: So you know all the footage you're getting is real. It happened somewhere. So I don't really understand the shock that, oh, people actually recognize that footage. So I don't really get that.
MANN: In an open letter, Netflix executives wrote that they regret any pain caused to the community, but they haven't offered compensation. The stock film distribution company that sold the video clip also apologized and says it's reviewing its policy for how images like these can be repurposed by clients in the film industry. Producers of the "Travelers" sci-fi series now say the fiery images will be clipped out and replaced, but Netflix is refusing to remove the footage from the film "Bird Box."
Brian Mann, NPR News.
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