Charging for Public Records

June 7, 2010

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.”

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