Update (May 10, 2015): JPay has provided the following statement:
In response to your article, How a Terms-of-Service Agreement Can Land You in Solitary Confinement, JPay has removed that language from our Terms of Service and made the below statement.
“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.”
For just about every service you use online, like Facebook or iTunes, you have to agree to a company’s “terms-of-service” (TOS) agreement. Most of us don’t bother to read the TOS; we merely click the “I Agree” button and get on with our lives. We aren’t likely to suffer any negative ramifications from our failure to read the fine print.
The same can’t be said, though, for the users of JPay, a company that provides digital communications systems to corrections facilities in at least 19 states. As their website says, JPay offers a variety of services for inmates and their families: “Send money to your loved one in state prison. Email your cousin in county jail. Chat with a friend using video visitation or give the gift of music with the JP4® player.”
But there’s a catch. Buried in JPay’s lengthy TOS is this clause:
You … acknowledge that JPay owns all of the content, including any text, data, information, images, or other material, that you transmit through the Service.
As Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains, this means: