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3. Are certain records available for inspection but not copying?

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  • Alaska

    The statute provides that all public records must be made available during regular office hours for inspection and copying. AS § 40.25.110 and -.120. Records should be made available for inspection without copying if the requester chooses, and any records available for inspection are available for copying. The state regulations governing access to records of executive branch agencies underscore that fees may not be assessed as a condition of inspecting public records if the public agency receiving the request does not incur costs to search for the requested public record.  2 AAC 96.240(c).

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  • Arizona

    The statute makes no distinction between the public's right to “examine” and its related right to obtain “copies, printouts or photographs of any public record during regular office hours.”  A.R.S. § 39-121.01(D)(1).

    If the custodian “does not have facilities for making copies, printouts or photographs of a public record,” the requester “shall be granted access to the public record for the purpose of making copies, printouts or photographs.”  A.R.S. § 39-121.01(D)(2).  But the copies, printouts or photographs must be made “while the public record is in the possession, custody and control of the custodian of the public record and shall be subject to the supervision of such custodian.”  A.R.S. § 39-121.01(D)(3).

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  • Arkansas

    As amended by Act 1653 of 2001, the FOIA gives citizens the right to “inspect, copy, or receive copies of public records.” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105(a)(2)(A). Upon payment of any required fees, the agency must furnish copies if it has the necessary equipment. Id. § 25-19-105(d)(2)(A). Previously, public records were available for only “inspection and copying,” and there was no obligation on the part of the agency to provide copies or to make available duplicating equipment.

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  • California

    The right of access to public records means both the right to inspect records (Cal. Gov't Code § 6253(a)) and the right to obtain exact copies of them unless making exact copies is impracticable (Cal. Gov't Code § 6253(b)). At least one court has denied a requester's right to copy documents where they were available for inspection at the agency's office and the documents were voluminous (80,000) and costly to print and ship. Rosenthal v. Hansen, 34 Cal. App. 3d 754, 757, 761,110 Cal. Rptr. 257 (1973); but see CBS Broad. Inc. v. Superior Court, 91 Cal. App. 4th 892, 909, 110 Cal. Rptr. 2d 889 (2001) (even if it would cost the Department of Social Services approximately $43,000 to compile accurate list of every individual granted criminal conviction exemption to work in licensed day care facility and identity of each facility employing such individuals, cost was not valid reason to deny CPRA request); Cal. First Amendment Coalition v. Superior Court, 67 Cal. App. 4th 159, 166, 78 Cal. Rptr. 847 (1998) ("A clearly framed request which requires an agency to search an enormous volume of data for a 'needle in the haystack' or, conversely, a request which compels the production of a huge volume of material may be objectionable as unduly burdensome. [citations omitted] Records requests, however, inevitably impose some burden on government agencies. An Agency is obligated to comply so long as the record can be located with reasonable effort.").

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  • Colorado

    No. However, the Attorney General's Office in 2001 issued a formal opinion stating that public records that are subject to copyright protection can be made available for inspection and copying.

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  • Connecticut

    Public records are available for both inspection and copying under FOIA. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-210(a). In Conn. Dep't of Pub. Safety v. FOIC, 1992 WL 31931 (Conn. Super. Feb. 5, 1992) aff'd, 29 Conn. App. 821, 618 A.2d 565 (1993), the Superior Court held that while a written request for copies is required under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-212, no written request is necessary to inspect under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-210(a), so copies must be provided if orally requested as part of the request to inspect under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-210(a). The same decision required motor vehicle accident reports to be made available for inspection at the originating state police barracks, rather than only at the Central Records Division in Meriden.

    In Office of the Municipal Clerk v. FOIC, No. CV 00-0500645S, 2001 WL 417341 (Conn. Super. Apr. 3, 2001) the court held that the word "inspect" does not allow a title searcher to copy land records with a battery-operated, hand-held scanner. In response, the legislature added subsection (g) to Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-212, which expressly permits the copying of records through the use of a hand-held scanner. In accordance with the statute, "[a] public agency may establish a fee structure not to exceed twenty dollars for an individual to pay each time the individual copies records at the agency with a hand-held scanner." Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-212(g). Such a scanner must be a battery operated electronic scanning device that leaves no mark or impression on the record and does not unreasonably interfere with the operation of the public agency. Id. In Borough of Woodmont v. FOIC, 2007 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2450 (2007), the court held that a municipal public agency either must maintain regular business hours where its records are available for inspection or it must maintain its records at the office of the town clerk.

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  • Delaware

    Public records must be maintained in public offices so that they may be available for copying and inspection by Delaware citizens. Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 94-I030 (Oct. 19, 1994). See Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 00-ib02 (Jan. 10, 2000) (concluding that a public office cannot be liable for a citizen's failure or refusal to avail him or herself of the times and/or dates set aside for public viewing and copying of records). However, certain records, like a presentence report, pre-parole report, supervision history and all other case records obtained in the discharge of official duty by any member or employee of the Department of Corrections are privileged and shall not be disclosed except that the court or Board of Pardons may, in their discretions, permit the inspection of the reports by the offender or the offender's attorney.  No person currently incarcerated shall have access to such records.  11 Del. C. § 4322(a).

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  • District of Columbia

    The D.C. Act states that any person "has a right to inspect, and at his or her discretion, to copy any public record of a public body." D.C. Code Ann. § 2-532(a) (emphasis added). A public body may set "reasonable rules" for time and place of access to documents through notice and comment proceedings. Id.

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  • Georgia

    The Act requires that all public records be open for “personal inspection and copying.”  O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(a).  But “an agency may, in its discretion, provide copies of a record in lieu of providing access to the record when portions of the record contain confidential information that must be redacted.”  § 50-18-71(b)(1)(B).  In addition, original trial exhibits “shall not be open to public inspection without approval of the judge assigned to the case.”  § 50-18-72(c)(1).

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  • Hawaii

    No. Section 92-21 states that copies must be made available of any document that is open for public inspection. Section 92F-11(d) provides that each agency shall assure reasonable access to facilities for duplicating records and for making memoranda or abstracts.

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  • Idaho

    No, the Act provides that a person can inspect and take a copy of any non-exempt public record. Idaho Code § 74-102(1). Both “inspect” and “copy” are defined terms in the statute. Idaho Code § 74-101(2); (5). A person can copy a record by handwriting, photocopying, duplicating machine or reproducing by any other means so long as the record is not altered or damaged. Idaho Code § 74-101(2). “Inspect” is defined as “the right to listen, view and make notes of public records as long as the public record is not altered or damaged.” Idaho Code § 74-101(5).

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  • Illinois

    There is nothing in the FOIA which makes certain records available for inspection but not copying. The Act states that public records must be made available for inspection or copying. See 5 ILCS 140/3(a).

    DesPain v. City of Collinsville, 382 Ill.App.3d 572, 888 N.E.2d 163, 320 Ill.Dec. 946 (5th Dist. 2008), held that the term “public record,” as used in the FOIA, referred to the original document, rather than a copy thereof.  Thus, a requester who asked to listen to recordings of city council meetings was entitled to listen to the original recordings rather than pay for copies to be made; the fact that the city had no facility for the public to listen to audiotapes was not a valid basis for denying a request to inspect a tape-recorded public record.  Id; see also AFSCME v. County of Cook, 136 Ill. 2d 334, 555 N.E.2d 361, 144 Ill. Dec 242 (1990) (Public body cannot choose the format in which it releases information).

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  • Indiana

    In general, all public records are available for inspection and copying (not just one or the other). Ind. Code § 5-14-3-3(a). However, if a public agency does not have reasonable access to a machine capable of reproducing the record, or if the person cannot reproduce the record by “enhanced access” under Ind. Code Sections 5-14-3-3.5, then the person seeking access may only inspect and manually transcribe the record. Ind. Code § 5-14-3-8(e)(2).

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  • Iowa

    Public records may be examined and copied. Iowa Code § 22.2(1). Examining public records includes the rights to copy, make photographs, and make photographic copies of the record. Iowa Code § 22.2(1). Certain documents, however, are exempted from the right to copy. This includes maps of mines, which may not be copied without the written consent of the operator or owner. 75-5-10 Op. Att’y Gen. 1, 1 (May 29, 1975).

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  • Kansas

    Agencies are not required to provide copies of radio or recording tapes or discs, video tapes or film, pictures, slides, graphics, illustrations, or similar audio or visual items or devices unless they are played or shown at a public meeting. K.S.A. 45-219(a).

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  • Kentucky

    There is no limitation on copying records after inspection: "Upon inspection, the applicant shall have the right to make abstracts of public records and memoranda thereof, and to obtain copies of all public records not exempted by the terms of [Ky. Rev. Stat.] 61.878." Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.874(1).

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  • Louisiana

    All records available for inspection are also available for copies. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44:32(C)(l), (2).

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  • Maine

    All records are available for both inspection and copying. 1 M.R.S.A. § 408(1).

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  • Maryland

    An applicant who has a right to inspect a public record typically has a right to a copy of that record. §§ 4-201(a)(2), 4-205(b)(1). Should the custodian not have facilities to reproduce the requested record, then the applicant is to be afforded access to the record to make the copy him or herself. § 4-205(b)(2).

    The PIA does not address the format in which the copies are provided. Similarly, the courts have not determined whether a requester’s right to copies extends to the right to choose the format of the copies.  The Office of the Attorney General currently advocates for agencies to “voluntarily accede to the requester’s choice of format” unless the cost is significant or the request imposes some other burden on the agency. PIA Manual, at 6-1. The official custodian of the public record is required to adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the time, place, manner, and cost of production and inspection. § 4-201(b); see, e.g., Model Rules on Public Information Act (the "PIA Model Rules"), PIA Manual, at App. F.

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  • Michigan

    "The custodian of a public record shall, upon written request, furnish a requesting person a certified copy of a public record." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.233(6). No section of the FOIA limits the availability of these records any further and a public body may not impose a more restrictive schedule for access to its public records for certain persons than it does for the public generally, based solely on the purpose for which the records are sought. 2001 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 7095 (2001). Moreover, the fact that public records being sought under this section are voluminous does not excuse the public body from permitting inspection of the public record or from providing copies thereof upon payment of a reasonable fee as provided in Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.234. 1979-80 Op. Att'y Gen. 255, 267 (1979).

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  • Montana

    Records are available under the Act for copying as well as inspection.

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  • Nebraska

    Unless some statute provides otherwise, persons interested may examine public records, request copies of them, or copy the records themselves. Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-712. If a person uses his own copying equipment to make copies, such copying must be done at the agency during normal business hours or at a location agreed to by the custodian. Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-712(1) and (2).

    Neb. Rev. Stat. §25-1280 provides that public officials must provide a certified copy of public records upon request and payment of legal fees therefor.

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  • Nevada

    Privatization contracts executed by or on behalf of a governmental entity are open to public inspection during the regular business hours of the governmental entity, but presumably not for copying. NRS 239.0103.

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  • New Hampshire

    There is no distinction between access to records for inspection and for copying. See RSA 91-A:4, I

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  • New Jersey

    OPRA specifically permits inspection, copying or examination.

    (See N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1)

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  • New Mexico

    No.  All records subject to inspection may be copied.  E-mail and "computer data" are subject to the Act.  NMSA 1978 § 14-2-9 (2013).

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  • North Carolina

    With one exception, all public records are subject to both inspection and copying. G.S. § 132-6. Following the high profile death of Dale Earnhardt, and a battle for photographs from his autopsy, autopsy photographs and audio/video recordings may be inspected but not copied.  G.S. § 130a-389.1.

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  • North Dakota

    Although generally records must be available for copying, two statutory provisions address this issue. First, if the entity is not authorized to use the fees paid to cover the cost of providing a copy, or if a copy machine is not readily available, the entity may make arrangements for the copy to be provided or mailed by another entity, and the requester shall pay the fee to that other entity. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-18(2). Second, while access to an electronically stored record must be provided at the requester’s option in either a printed document or through any other available medium, it is worth noting that “a public entity is not required to provide an electronically stored record in a different structure, format, or organization.” N.D.C.C. § 44-04-18(4).

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  • Ohio

    The statute provides that every record available for public inspection is also available for copying. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(B).

    When a party to any court action requests an official court transcript under Ohio Rev. Code § 2301.24, the party must pay the fees designated by that statute, and cannot take advantage of the lower "at cost" fees imposed under the Public Records Act. State ex rel. Slagle v. Rogers, 103 Ohio St. 3d 89, 814 N.E.2d 55, 2004-Ohio-4354, clarified on reconsideration by State ex rel. Slagle v. Rogers, 106 Ohio St.3d 1402, 2005-Ohio-3040 (party to an action my not circumvent payment of official court reporter fees for a copy of a transcript under 2301.24, but may “freely inspect, without copying … as permitted by R.C. 149.43(B)”).

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  • Oklahoma

    All records available for inspection may be copied. An agency may not create a distinction between the public's ability to inspect or copy records. 1999 OK AG 55.   After years of allowing the copying of records, law enforcement agencies began asserting that the Act’s requirement that “law enforcement agencies shall make available for public inspection” found in 51 O.S. § 24A.8(A) specifically recognized that copies of law enforcement records did not have to be provided to the public.   The Legislature amended that section to now include the language “for public inspection and copying.”  51 O.S. § 24A.8(A).  See also Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters v. City of Norman, 2016 OK 119, ¶ 27 (Although decided after the statute was amended, the Supreme Court held that the Plaintiff would have been entitled to copy a video tape because “we are compelled to define the public’s right to inspect a record . . . as including their right to obtain a copy of the record.”).

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  • Oregon

    All records that may be inspected may be copied. ORS 192.324(1) (formerly ORS 192.440).

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  • Rhode Island

    Presumably not, given the mandate of R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-3(a).

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  • South Carolina

    Any person has a right to inspect or copy any public record not exempt from disclosure under the act. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-30(a).

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  • Tennessee

    The right to inspect public records includes the right to make copies. T.C.A. § 10-7-506(a). Therefore, all records that may be inspected should be available for copying.

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  • Texas

    Generally, an officer for public information of a governmental body shall promptly produce public information for inspection, duplication, or both on application by any person to the officer. An officer for public information complies with the request by providing the information for inspection or duplication in the offices of the governmental body. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.221.
    Pursuant to Section 552.027(c), a governmental body shall allow the inspection of information in a book or publication that is made part of, incorporated into, or referred to in a rule or policy of a governmental body.

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  • Utah

    Some statutes provide that specific records are available for inspection but not for copying.

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  • Vermont

    All records are available for copying if the agency has the equipment necessary to make the copies. 1 V.S.A. § 316(g). However, an agency need not provide for copying just to satisfy the act if it does not itself have the equipment necessary to do so, and persons are not allowed to remove the records from the agency for copying elsewhere. Id.

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  • Virginia

    No; there is no distinction with respect to what may be copied and what may be inspected. The Act provides that access to public records shall be provided “by inspection or by providing copies . . . at the option of the requestor." Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704.A.

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  • Washington

    The statute does not distinguish between records available for inspection and records available for copying. But see Hudgens v. City of Renton, 49 Wn. App. 842, 746 P.2d 320 (1987) (Criminal Records Privacy Act exempts nonconviction data from copying provisions of Public Records Act but not inspection provisions), review denied, 110 Wn.2d 1014 (1988). Agencies are permitted to adopt and enforce rules to protect records from damage or disorganization, or to prevent excessive interference with other essential agency functions. RCW 42.56.100.

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  • West Virginia

    Under the literal terms of the FOIA, any "public record" subject to inspection also may be copied. However, the statute recognizes a narrow exception that permits public agencies to deny all access to certain records that could be damaged by handling, including records, archives, documents or manuscripts describing the location of undeveloped historic, prehistoric, archaeological, paleontological and battlefield sites or constituting gifts to any public body upon which the donor has attached restrictions on usage or the handling of which could irreparably damage the record, archive, document or manuscript. W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4(6).

    It seems certain that if particular documents could be inspected, but not copied, without the threat of damage, the courts would permit this approach as the least restrictive alternative.

    Furthermore, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has recommended that "innovative measures" be used when FOIA requests are made for "personal" information concerning individuals. For example, to limit damage that might be caused by the disclosure of highly private personal information, the court has ordered that parents could read, but not copy, psychiatric records of a school bus driver. Child Protection Group v. Cline, 177 W. Va. 29, 350 S.E.2d 541 (1986).

    In a 2014 case decided by the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, a state environmental regulatory agency directed a FOIA requester to the agency's website where the agency asserted the requester could download the information it had requested. The requester had asked that the information it sought be provided in a computer excel spreadsheet. Previously, the public body had routinely provided such electronic files culling the information from Defendants' electronic databases. Appalachian Mountain Advocate, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protections, Civ. Action No. 14-C-985 (Kanawha County Cir. Ct., Oct. 20, 2014) (Slip Opinion) (hereafter "Appalmad").

    The Appalmad court found that "it would take approximately 289 hours to compile [requested documents] . . . through the ePermitting website." However, if the requester retained a consultant to perform the work, "it would cost Plaintiff approximately $18,785." Further, "to compile the [information] for a calendar year, it would take approximately 598 hours, at a cost of $38,870." "In contrast," said the court, "it would take Defendants less than one hour to compile the same information, and the cost to Plaintiff would be $37.00."

    The court held that making the information available only via the agency's website does not constitute the provision of a reasonable opportunity for the inspection and copying of public records because the time that it would take to inspect all of the requested public records through the ePermitting website placed an unreasonable burden on Plaintiff when compared to the ease with which Defendants could compile the responsive public records.

    The Appalmad Court summarized its holding ordering the agency to provide an excel spreadsheet of the requested information:

    Because the uncontested, expert testimony in this case establishes that the creation of an Excel spreadsheet file or any other usable electronic file containing the results of a search of Defendants' electronic . . . database does not result in the creation of a new record; because the federal case law holds that search results from an electronic database do not create new records; because the FOIA is to be liberally construed in favor of public access to public records; and because Defendants' referral of Plaintiff to the ePermitting website to obtain the information requested violates the FOIA because it does not provide Plaintiff with "proper and reasonable opportunities for the inspection and examination of the records", the Court rejects Defendants' argument that it is not obligated under FOIA to search its electronic database of DMRs for records responsive to Plaintiff's requests and provide those results to Plaintiff.

    Appalachian Mountain Advocate, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protections, Civ. Action No. 14-C-985 (Kanawha County Cir. Ct., Oct. 20, 2014) (Slip Opinion).

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  • Wyoming

    Examinations may be inspected but not copied. (Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-203(b)(ii) (1977, & Cum. Supp. 1996). Any other record that can be inspected can be copied. Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-204(a) (1977, Rev. 1982).

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