The Maine Legislature enacted the Maine Freedom of Access Act ("FOAA") — sometimes referred to as the Right to Know Law — in 1959 as Public Law, Chapter 219 (Legislative Document 6: "An Act Pertaining to Freedom of Access to Public Records and Proceedings"). The FOAA as recodified and amended is found in Sections 401-412 of Title 1 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (1 M.R.S.A. §§ 401 - 412). The FOAA covers both access to public proceedings and access to public records.

The FOAA broadly applies to state legislative, executive, and administrative bodies, all county, local, and governmental bodies, "blue ribbon" and hybrid bodies, and the Board of Trustees of the state universities, among other government entities. The FOAA does not apply to the Judicial Branch, which has adopted its own public information and confidentiality policy.

The FOAA itself contains a variety of exceptions, including for records that have been "designated confidential by statute." As a result of this provision, many exceptions to public access are found outside the FOAA, scattered throughout the Maine Revised Statutes. To determine whether a particular record (or discussion of that record) is confidential requires review of statutes that relate to the government entity involved or the subject matter of the record. For example, access to law enforcement information is controlled to a large extent by the Criminal History Record Information Act, 16 M.R.S.A. §§ 611 - 623.

The FOAA has been the subject of frequent amendments. The Maine State Law and Legislative Library in Augusta, Maine, has available a compilation of the amendments to the FOAA since 1959.