Prison Messaging Service No Longer Claims It 'Owns' All Of Your Communications

from the good-for-them dept

We recently wrote about some dangerous terms of service from a big prison messaging service, JPay, in which the company claimed to flat out own any content that anyone sent through its service. While the company itself did not appear to be doing stupid things to enforce this, this clause did allow prison guards to put one prisoner in solitary confinement after his sister posted a video he had sent via JPay to social media. The prison claimed it was doing so to protect JPay's intellectual property.

The company has now told Dave Maass at EFF that it has dropped this clause from its terms of service:
It has recently come to our attention that there is language in our Terms of Service that impacts our customers and their families. The language states that JPay owns all content transmitted through our Email, VideoGram and Video Visitation services. Our intention was never to take ownership and profit in any way from our customers’ content. That is not and has never been JPay’s business and we have removed this language from our Terms of Service. From its inception, JPay has pledged to make our customers our top priority and we will continually strive to meet this pledge as best and as quickly as we can.
Maass is suggesting that they take it a step further and ask prison officials not to punish inmates who use their system, claiming that it's to protect JPay's intellectual property.

Filed Under: copyright, messaging, ownership, prison, terms of service
Companies: jpay


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  • identicon
    JustShutUpAndObey, 8 May 2015 @ 4:02pm

    Who's the customer?

    JPay's customer is not the inmate or his family. JPay's customer is the prison administration. JPay will NOT say anything to the administration that might be construed as criticism. They will NOT ask prison officials to not punish inmates who use their system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 8 May 2015 @ 4:11pm

      Re: Who's the customer?

      Its hard to tell, but it looks like they make their money by charging the inmate and his family for services. As rates very by prison, I am sure the prison gets a cut. But the customer (defined both as the person who gives them the money as well as the person who uses the service), does appear to be the inmate and its family.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        mcherm (profile), 10 May 2015 @ 7:04pm

        Re: Re: Who's the customer?

        The definition of "customer" can be a bit murky in some cases, but here the inmate (or her family) are the ones who PAY, while the prison are the ones who DECIDE whether or not JPay gets the business. The ones that JPay are most likely to work to keep happy are those who do the deciding -- the prison officials. It is not unlike medical insurance in the US, where (except for those on government programs) the employee is the supposed "customer" but it is the employer who actually DECIDES which insurance to purchase.

        All that being said, however, I don't see any indications that JPay is ignoring the well-being of prisoners and their families in the single-minded pursuit of pleasing prison officials. Even if it WOULD be in their best interest, I see much the opposite. I see JPay reacting with impressive speed after the issue was raised to their attention by the media, and changing their policy immediately. So perhaps the cynicism is unwarranted.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 May 2015 @ 4:19pm

    Isn't it wonderful how blind & stupid people are about imaginary property rights?
    Because we can, we should... the lawyers told us to.

    Now everyone stop looking at us, we issued our press release saying we stopped doing this... now run along and don't look into our profits, any agreements with sharing the content, or anything else that might expose how we keep this lucrative contract.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2015 @ 9:05pm

      Re:

      any agreements with sharing the content,


      I'd be shocked if they didn't share the content with the prison, but that's perfectly appropriate in a prison setting.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 9 May 2015 @ 1:07am

      Re:

      Also, whatever you do, don't check back, because we might have had to remove that clause this week due to all the media attention, but we'll be stuffing that clause back in there next week.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2015 @ 6:11am

        Re: Re:

        I may be naive, but I don't think the clause was needed for them at all. It seems like some prison guards were using IP as a rationalisation to defend their actions, which obviously isn't in JPays interest.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jail Guitar, 8 May 2015 @ 5:04pm

    Who then gets to profit?

    If some thug calls me from prison, do I have the copyright|? how much could I charge serial ?

    So Boss questions!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tea for the terrorist, 8 May 2015 @ 5:06pm

    Just Remember theres a

    Lot of bad and beware

    Mostly cop terrorists

    USA I'll always remember you like a child....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 8 May 2015 @ 8:58pm

    shine some light and the cockroaches scatter for the darkest corners of the room

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 May 2015 @ 6:34am

    Another step

    They should also disclaim any rights over things transmitted in the past.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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