Canadian Parliament Members ‘Condemn’ Netflix for Using Tragedy Footage in ‘Bird Box’

Lawmakers say streamer should compensate the people of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, for use of 2013 rail disaster images

Last Updated: January 31, 2019 @ 5:06 PM

Canada’s House of Commons on Wednesday passed a non-binding motion saying that Netflix should compensate the people of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, for using footage of a tragedy that took place in the city for the film “Bird Box,” according to the Associated Press.

The Canadian Parliament voted unanimously to condemn Netflix and demanded that they remove the images from “its fiction catalogue.”

“Netflix: Remove those images. This is not entertainment,” Pierre Nantel, a legislator with the New Democrat party who introduced the motion last week, said in a tweet.

Netflix had no comment, but it did share a letter it sent to the Canadian minister of culture and communications Nathalie Roy from Netflix’s director of public policy Corie Wright apologizing for the use of the footage and promising to take steps to avoid such mistakes in the future. However, Netflix made no mentions of plans to remove the footage from “Bird Box” or pay compensation. Read the full message below.

TheWrap reported that “Bird Box” contains a scene using stock footage that matches news footage from a real-life tragedy. The footage seen early in the film shows the aftermath of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, in which an unattended freight train carrying crude oil derailed in downtown Quebec. Multiple tank cars exploded and sparked a fire, most of the city’s downtown was destroyed, and 47 people were killed.

The same footage also appeared in an episode of another Netflix show called “Travelers,” and in both instances the stock footage was supplied by the same third party company, Pond5. The footage was removed from “Travelers,” but not from “Bird Box.” At the time of the initial reporting, Netflix had declined to comment.

Netflix initially earned a rebuke from the mayor of Lac-Mégantic, Julie Morin, who said she spoke with the streaming service and was satisfied that a similar incident would not happen again.

At the time, Pond5 said in a statement received by TheWrap that the “footage was taken out of context” and it wanted to “sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended, especially the victims and their families.”

Read Netflix’s letter to Canadian minister Roy below:

Minister Roy, Thank you for your letter regarding the unintended use of footage from the 2013 Lac-Mégantic tragedy. Netflix was not aware of the source of the footage and understands that many feel frustration and sadness at seeing images of this tragic event. We regret any pain caused to the Lac-Mégantic community and have expressed this directly to Mayor Julie Morin. The use of stock footage is a widespread and long-standing practice in the film and television industry. As a result, stock images are commonly used within content on Netflix and on other services. This widespread use prevents us from making the changes you request on finished content. But going forward, we (and the broader industry) can do better. We have begun discussions internally about best practices to avoid future uses of this and similar footage. We apologize to the Lac-Mégantic community and to Netflix members who were saddened by seeing this footage. We will take measures to avoid its use in future.