Charging for Public Records

Should a businessman be able to obtain a full copy of a public library-full of records for $50-with the intent to sell the records to others, or should the businessman have to pay a price closer to the value of the records?   The Open Records Act would seem to control, and so far that is how district courts in Oklahoma have ruled, and the cost is $50 for a copy of the records.

A California businessman has succeeded in five counties against county assessors in the amount of fees charged for electronic copies of land records.

In March, Pottawatomie County and Canadian County judges sided with Roger Hurlbert after the county assessors had tried to charge him $450 and $500, respectively, for an electronic copy of those records.  The judges found the Open Records Act was clear when it states public offices “may charge a fee only for recovery of the reasonable, direct costs record copying, or mechanical reproduction.”

One Response to Charging for Public Records

  1. joe patituce says:

    I cant imagine how, or why, the records custodians actually thought they could charge based on the “value” of the records rather than on what the law required. I would hate to see what would happen if a criminal defense client of mine went into the police station to get a copy of the police report and was quoted a $10,000 or more because of the obvious value it has to him… outrageous.

    Joseph C. Patituce
    26777 Lorain Road, Suite 503
    North Olmsted, Ohio

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