Commercial prison messaging system's terms of service lands inmate in solitary

Jpay, a service for sending messages to prisoners with a literal captive market, no longer claims copyright in messages sent to and from prisoners.

The copyright-grabbing clause had been used by sadistic guards as an excuse to punish a prisoner whose sister posted one of his messages to a Facebook page where she campaigns to overturn his conviction. The guards said they put Leon Benson in solitary, cut him off from Jpay, and clawed back his earned "good time" because they had to protect Jpay's copyrights.

Buford has been running a social media campaign to overturn her brother's murder conviction. However, after Buford published a videogram that her brother recorded via JPay to Facebook, prison administrators cut off her access to the JPay system, sent Benson to solitary confinement, and stripped away some of his earned "good time." To justify the discipline, prison officials said they were enforcing JPay's intellectual property rights and terms of service. Represented by the ACLU of Indiana, Buford is now suing the corrections department for violating her First Amendment rights.

JPay did the right thing by changing its terms of service. To honor their pledge to their customers, we hope they will go one step further and pressure prison officials not to censor inmates who use their service to communicate with their friends and family over social media.

JPay Will No Longer Claim Ownership Over Inmate-Family Correspondence
[Dave Maass/EFF]