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Florida Prisoners Win 3.9 Million in Media Credits in MP3 Player Lawsuit

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) agreed to place 3.9 million Tablet Media Credits into the accounts of prisoners who bought songs through the now-defunct digital music player program.

In 2011, FDOC allowed prisoners to purchase MP3 programs through a contract with Access Corrections. Over the six-year life of the contract, prisoners bought 30,299 players at around $100 apiece, plus 6.7 million songs for $1.70 each. FDOC received $1.7 million in commissions from Access. [See PLN, February 2019, p.26].

A “widely distributed advertisement” promised prisoners who participated in the digital music program that, “Once music is purchased, you’ll always own it!” Songs that could not be stored on the player due to memory space would go on a “cloud-based library” by connecting to a kiosk. Then, in 2017, FDOC terminated the program to enter into a contract with JPay, Inc., for a Tablet Program. Prisoners were required to turn over their MP3 players by January 23, 2017.

A class action lawsuit filed on February 19, 2019, alleged the confiscation of the MP3 players and loss of music was a violation of the Takings Clause under the Fifth Amendment. The parties reached a settlement on May 14, 2020.

Under terms of the agreement, FDOC will make available to the class 3.9 million tablet media credits, which is equivalent to $1 for each credit. FDOC had already provided 100 tablet media credits to each member of the class, which included current Florida prisoners who purchased 75 or more songs and had those files taken from them.

Prisoners who purchased more than 100 songs under the digital music program received “one (1) Tablet Media Credit for each additional song over 100 that they purchased under the Digital Music Program.” Those credits are not “currency or damages, and cannot be exchanged for currency.” They can, however, be used to purchase music, videos, games, and email stamps through the Tablet Program.

Related legal case

Demler et al. v. Inch