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3. Use of records

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  • Alabama

    The Alabama Public Records Law does not restrict the manner in which the information obtained from public records may be used. Computer-based information about pending cases is available online, however, through the State's AlaCourt system which requires signing a service agreement and paying an annual user fee.

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  • Alaska

    The Public Records Act does not place any restrictions on the subsequent use of information provided. In the past, the Attorney General had advised that release of names and addresses might involve privacy interests and that such information should only be released where supported by the public's interest in disclosure. However, in 1990, broad changes to the state's public records laws were enacted, which included adoption of a statutory definition of "personal information" that specifically excludes names, addresses and listed phone numbers. This definition is an explicit statement by the legislature that it does not consider a person's name and address to be protected by the right of privacy, and that therefore names and addresses are subject to disclosure even if requested for a merely commercial purpose. As a result, the names and addresses compiled by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from hunting and fishing licenses are subject to disclosure requirements and must be provided for inspection and copying regardless of the purpose for which they are sought, though unlisted phone numbers may be withheld. July 25, 1995, Attorney General Opinion No. 663-94-0164. See also 2 AAC 96.420(b), prohibiting restrictions on sale, distribution, reformatting or other third party use of "electronic services or products."

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  • Arizona

    The Arizona Public Records Law makes no restrictions on the subsequent use of the information provided.

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  • Arkansas

    Nothing in the FOIA restricts the subsequent use of information obtained under the act. Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 84-127.

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  • California

    There are no restrictions or limitations on the subsequent use of records obtained under the CPRA. In County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court, 170 Cal. App. 4th 1301, 1333, 89 Cal. Rptr. 3d 374 (2009), the court, as a matter of first impression, rejected as inconsistent with the CPRA the county’s claim that it could require requesters of its GIS basemap data to enter into licensing agreements restricting use and dissemination of the data.  The court held that copyright protections under the CPRA extend “in a proper case” only to computer software.  Id. at 1331-36 (“The CPRA contains no provision either for copyrighting the GIS basemap or for conditioning its release on an end user or licensing agreement by the requester.”). More recently, in ACLU v. Superior Court, 3 Cal. 5th 1032, 1047, 221 Cal. Rptr. 3d 832, 400 P.3d 432 (2017), involving an investigatory records claim over license plate reader data, the California Supreme Court instructed the trial court on remand that it could place no restrictions or limitations on the use of anonymized or redacted data if ultimately disclosed over security concerns advanced by police.

    With one exception, a requester is not required to state the use or purpose for which the records are being requested. Cal. Gov't Code § 6257.5. Under the investigatory records exemption of Section 6254(f)(3), an individual requesting the address of any individual arrested or the current address of the victim of a crime, must declare under penalty of perjury that the request is made for a journalistic, scholarly, political or governmental purpose, or is sought for investigatory purposes by a licensed private investigator. Additionally, the requester must declare that the information obtained pursuant to this subsection will not be used directly or indirectly to sell a product or service. Cal. Gov't Code § 6254(f)(3); see Los Angeles Police Dept. v. United Reporting Pub. Corp, 528 U.S. 32, 120 S.Ct. 483, 488, 145 L.Ed. 2d 451 (1999)(upholding facial constitutional challenge to this provision but noting that the constitutionality of the provision as applied to respondent, a publishing company that provides the names and addresses of arrested individuals to its customers, remained open to challenge); see also United Reporting Pub. Corp. v. Cal. Hwy. Patrol, 231 F.3d 483 (9th Cir. 2000)(where Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal remanded action for further district court proceedings addressing the "as applied" constitutionality of this provision).

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  • Colorado

    The Open Records Act does not restrict any subsequent use of the records provided or of information contained in them. However, requesters of access to criminal justice records must certify that they do not intend to use the records for solicitation of business for pecuniary gain. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-305.5.

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  • Connecticut

    There are no reported court decisions on whether FOIA imposes any restrictions on the subsequent use of the information provided to the requester.

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  • Delaware

    The Act does not make any restrictions on subsequent use of information, provided, however, that an agency releasing documents under the APA may impose reasonable precautions to preserve the integrity and security of the document. 29 Del. C. § 10112(b)(1).

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  • District of Columbia

    The fact that a person seeks information for a commercial use does not bar disclosure. See, e.g., Dunhill v. Dir., D.C. Dep't of Transp., 416 A.2d 244 (D.C. 1980) (fact that individual sought information to sell as mailing list of elderly citizens did not prohibit disclosure). However, § 2-534(a)(1), exempting disclosure of trade secrets and confidential commercial or financial information obtained from outside the government, assumes that the D.C. Act should not be used as a "private discovery tool." Washington Post Co. v. Minority Bus. Opportunity Comm'n, 560 A.2d 517, 522 (D.C. 1989).

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  • Georgia

    In 1993, the Georgia General Assembly repealed a former provision of the Act that permitted agencies to deny requests sought for commercial solicitation purposes. Except in the rare case where access is statutorily conditioned upon written acceptance of restrictions on subsequent use, see, e.g., O.C.G.A. § 35-1-18 (limiting access to booking photographs); § 50-18-72(a)(20) (conditioning certain press access to social security numbers), Georgia law places no restrictions on the subsequent use of records obtained under the Act.

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  • Hawaii

    The UIPA itself does not restrict subsequent use of information provided to individuals. Furthermore, Section 92F-16 grants immunity from civil or criminal liability for "[a]nyone participating in good faith in the disclosure or nondisclosure of a government record . . . ." Id. § 92F-16.

    This does not mean that subsequent use of information obtained from government agencies may not be restricted by other laws. For instance, the UIPA amendment to Chapter 89 specifically proscribes the sharing or disclosure of information contained in personal records disclosed to employee representatives except for specific purposes. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 89-16.5 (1996).

    Similarly, although the legislature did not adopt the provisions of the Uniform Code permitting disclosure for research purposes only under certain circumstances where safeguards are used to insure privacy, other provisions may effectively govern disclosure of research data. Initially, the UIPA authorizes the OIP to "adopt rules that set forth uniform standards for disclosure of records for research purposes," Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-42(15), as well as to "adopt, amend, or repeal rules . . . necessary for the purposes of [the UIPA]," id. § 92F-42(17). The OIP is still in the process of drafting such rules. Nevertheless, the law's breadth and its requirement that privacy interests be balanced against the public's interest in disclosure of personal records, such as those often maintained or potentially available for research, may obviate the legislature's refusal to adopt the Uniform Code's research provisions. See Ombudsman Op. 77-985 (permitting research of marriage and death records). The ombudsman, who is appointed by the legislature, has jurisdiction to investigate the administrative "acts of agencies." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 96-5 (1996) (describing function and operational parameters of the Office of Ombudsman). Lateral application of other statutory provisions may also regulate use of research data. See, e.g., Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 324-31 to 324-34 (2000) (regulating release of data and use of identity in records of the State Health Department); Public Inspection of Vital Statistic Records Maintained by the Dep't of Health, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 90-23 (June 28, 1990) (allowing inspection of records less than 75-years old only upon showing required by Haw. Rev. Stat. § 338-18(b) (2000) of necessity for determining familial relation establishing personal or property rights).

    Other laws may specifically limit the use of government records and even the release and/or use of privately maintained records. See, e.g., id. §§ 325-101 to 325-104 (Supp. 2000) (establishing confidentiality of all records relating to HIV infection, civil liability for willful disclosure without a patient's consent and prohibition of disclosure by the Department of Health in any judicial proceeding without a patient's consent).

    And, of course, common law torts may subject an individual or corporation to liability for certain uses, misuses, or abuses of information, including information obtained from government agencies.

    In the case of interagency disclosures, confidential information disclosed to another agency does not thereby lose its confidential status; the receiving agency is "subject to the same restrictions on disclosure of the records as the originating agency." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92F-19(b); List of Employers That are Self-Insured for Workers' Compensation Purposes, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 92-7 (June 29, 1992).

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  • Idaho

    The Idaho Public Records Act generally prohibits sale or distribution of any list of persons contained in public records for use as a mailing or telephone number list unless permission is obtained from those on the list. Idaho Code § 74-120(1). Accordingly, some agencies will require the requester to state that the records are not being sought for such a purpose. This prohibition does not prevent an individual from compiling a mailing or telephone number list by examining public which are otherwise open to public inspection. Idaho Code § 74-120(2). In addition, certain types of public records are categorically exempt from the general prohibition, such as records compiled by agencies which issue professional licenses and public records dealing with motor vehicle registration. See Idaho Code § 74-120(3)-(9).

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  • Illinois

    The public policy declaration makes it clear that the intent of the Act is to further the fundamental philosophy of self-government and to permit fully informed public discussion of issues and monitoring of government. The Act also makes no specific restrictions on subsequent use of information acquired.

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  • Indiana

    Commercial use of public records obtained on disk or tape under the 1995 “enhanced access amendments” may be restricted by state agency rule or local ordinance adopted under Indiana Code Section 5-14-3-3(e). Use of such records for news purposes, nonprofit activities, or academic research is not prohibited. Ind. Code § 5-14-3-3(e).

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  • Iowa

    The statute does not limit the use of the records.

    No restriction is placed on subsequent use of information provided. "Every person shall have the right to . . . publish or otherwise disseminate public records or the information contained therein." Iowa Code § 22.2(1); 78 Op. Att'y Gen. 725, 728 (Oct. 30, 1978) ("Certainly [the statute] does not concern itself with . . . the use which is made of the information obtained.") See also 68 Op. Att'y Gen. 656 (April 8, 1968).

    This includes the right to copy, make photographs, and make photographic copies of the record. Iowa Code § 22.2(1).  The purpose for which data is obtained is immaterial. 81 Op. Att'y Gen. 212 (August 13, 1981) ("The fact that the information . . . may be used for political purposes does not bar examination and copying.") 81 Op. Att'y Gen. 76,77 (April 6, 1981) ("[T]he fact that the requestor intends to utilize the records for commercial purposes is not a bar to examination and copying of public records.") 74 Op. Att'y Gen. 430, 432 (February 2, 1974) ("'The statute does not make any distinctions as to the purpose for which public records may be used.'").

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  • Kansas

    A requester may not use lists of names or addresses obtained pursuant to KORA for purposes of selling or offering for sale property or services. K.S.A. 45-220(c)(2)(A) and (B).  Ministers or churches may use lists from public records to provide information about area churches; churches are generally not engaged in commercial business. Kan. Att’y Gen. Op. 2000-35. A requester may not sell, give or otherwise make available to any person such information for purposes of allowing that person to use the list in the same manner. In 2003 the legislature removed the criminal penalty contained within 21-3914 and replaced it with the current civil penalty. 2009-18.

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  • Kentucky

    If the requester intends to use the records for a commercial purpose and is required by the public agency to certify that commercial purpose, the requester must use the records only in the manner he or she has disclosed. Similarly, a requester may not request the records for a noncommercial purpose and then permit the records to be used for a commercial purpose. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.874(5). Otherwise, there is no restriction on subsequent use. See 95-ORD-77 (public agency cannot direct requester to refrain from reproducing records released to her).

    The definition of commercial purpose is very broad, but excludes most uses of information by the news media:

    "Commercial purpose" means the direct or indirect use of any part of a public record or records, in any form, for sale, resale, solicitation, rent or lease of a service, or any use by which the user expects a profit either through commission, salary or fee.

    "Commercial purpose" shall not include:

    1. Publication or related use of a public record by a newspaper or periodical;
    2. Use of a public record by a radio or television station in its news or other informational programs; or
    3. Use of a public record in the preparation for prosecution or defense of litigation, or claims settlement by the parties to such action, or the attorneys representing the parties.

    Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.870(4).

    Although the agency may require a requester to state whether he or she intends to use the records for a commercial purpose, the agency cannot make a person intending to use records for a noncommercial purpose state his or her exact purpose. 02-ORD-89.

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  • Louisiana

    The law makes no restrictions on subsequent use of information provided. For example, an attorney general opinion clarifies that a public university may not deny access to a weekly newspaper because it was publishing information obtained from the university in a "negative and disparaging manner." Op. Att'y Gen. 93-482.

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  • Maine

    Public records may be used for any purpose.

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  • Maryland

    A person's subsequent use of the information provided may be restricted. See, e.g., § 4-308(b) (circulation records of public libraries may only be inspected if in connection with the library's ordinary business and only for the purposes for which the record was created); § 4-312(b)(2) (permitting county auditors access to retirement records of former or current employees, but prohibiting disclosure of any information that would identify a person in interest); and § 4-315(b) (disclosed criminal records and reports may not be used to solicit or market legal services).

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  • Michigan

    The particular use to which a person plans to put requested information is not restricted by the FOIA; "[t]he initial as well as future uses of the requested information are irrelevant." Id. at 404 N.W.2d 616; see also Mullin v. Detroit Police Dep't, 133 Mich. App. 46, 348 N.W.2d 708 (1984).  Likewise, “[t]he future use of the information is irrelevant to determining whether the privacy exemption of Mich. Comp. Laws 15.243(1)(a) applies.”  Practical Political Consulting v. Secretary of State, 287 Mich. App. 434, 789 N.W. 2d 178 (2010).

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  • Montana

    Finally, there is no restriction placed on subsequent use of information provided.

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  • Nebraska

    The statutes impose no specific limitations on use of information that is provided to the public.

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  • Nevada

    The NPRA does not restrict the requester's use of the information provided.

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  • New Hampshire

    The Statute places no restrictions on use of information.  Once a record is made public anyone may use it for any purpose.  Lamy v, New Hampshire Public Utilities Comm’n, 152 N.H. 106 (2005)

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  • New Jersey

    When records are deemed accessible "government records," no restrictions on subsequent use of the information may be imposed.

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  • New Mexico

    NMSA 1978 § 14-2A-1 (1993) purports to prohibit attorneys, healthcare providers, and their agents from inspecting, copying or using police reports or information obtained from police reports to solicit victims or relatives of victims.  Consistent with pronouncements by the Supreme Court (Florida Bar v. Went For It, Inc., 515 U.S. 618 (1995)), the New Mexico State Bar's ban on direct mail advertising by attorneys to accident victims is also unconstitutional.  Revo v. Disciplinary Bd. of the Sup. Ct. of N.M., 106 F.3d 929, 936 (10th Cir. 1997).

     

    Additionally, NMSA 1978 § 14-3-15.1(C)(2) (1995) purports to limit the use of "computerized database[s] of public records" for any political or commercial purpose "unless the purpose and use is approved in writing by the state agency that created the database."  This provision is of questionable constitutionality as well.  See Crutchfield v. N.M. Dep’t of Taxation & Revenue, 2005-NMCA-022, 137 N.M. 26, 106 P.3d 1273.  (The appellate court declined to hear FOG's constitutional challenge on the basis that the plaintiff did not properly preserve the issue at the trial level.)

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  • North Carolina

    Generally, North Carolina law makes no restrictions on the use of public records. The only exception is that a requester of a geographical information system may be required to agree that he will not resell or use copies for “trade or commercial purposes.” G.S. § 132-10.

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  • North Dakota

    While the open records constitutional provision and statute contain no provisions regarding the subsequent use of information, other North Dakota law may restrict the use of some information acquired through the open records law. For example, the attorney general has opined, “North Dakota law, as found at N.D.C.C. Ch. 47-25.1, does provide for a civil action upon the misappropriation of trade secrets.” N.D. Op. Att’y Gen. 85-24, at 3 (1985). This statute may restrict the use of trade secrets information acquired through the open records law.

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  • Ohio

    The statute places no restrictions on subsequent use of the records provided.

    Where the requester is seeking access to records of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a commercial purpose other than newsgathering may increase the cost. A commercial purpose includes those who themselves may not intend a commercial use, but who intend to forward the records to someone else who will put them to a commercial use. Ohio Rev. Code § 149.43(F).

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  • Oklahoma

    While the Act generally places no restrictions on subsequent use of information provided, there is a prohibition against copying or mechanically reproducing land description tract indexes for the purpose of sale of the information.  51 O.S. § 24A.5.5

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  • Oregon

    The Public Records Law does not restrict the subsequent use of information provided. Again, the use to be made may be relevant in determining the public interest in disclosure.

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  • Pennsylvania

    Although the Law is silent, cases applying the old act have held that the act imposes no restrictions on subsequent use of the material obtained. See Hoffman v. Pa. Game Comm’n, 455 A.2d 731 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1983) (rejecting Game Commission’s objections to access based on grounds that requester sought the information “for commercial purposes”) (interpreting prior version of Right to Know Act).  Under the new Law, the rule persists.

    The Law does not act as a bar to discovery or use of information in a civil proceeding. See Commonwealth v. Kauffman, 605 A.2d 1243, 1245-46 (Pa. Super. 1992) (interpreting prior version of Right to Know Act).

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  • Rhode Island

    Previously, R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-6 prohibited the use of information from public records “to obtain commercial advantage over the party furnishing that information to the public body” and imposed civil lability for knowing and willful violation.  That provision of the statute has been held to be unconstitutional and unenforceable.  See Rhode Island Assn. of Realtors, Inc v. Whitehouse, 51 F. Supp. 2d 107, 114 (D.R.I. 1999) aff’d 199 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 1999).  It was repealed by statute in 2012.  R.I. Gen. Laws §  38-2-6, P.L. 2012, ch. 448, § 3 and P.L. 2012, ch. 454, § 3.

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  • South Carolina

    The name, address and telephone number of persons who are handicapped or disabled are not to be disclosed "when the information is requested for person-to-person commercial solicitation of handicapped persons solely by virtue of their handicap." S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-40(a)(2). Information revealed in a police incident report or an employee salary schedule as well as the home addresses and home telephone numbers of public employees may not be used for commercial solicitation. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-50(B). Personal information in the possession of a government agency may not be used for commercial solicitation. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-2-50.

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  • South Dakota

    Use of records generally irrelevant, but for resale/redistribution of certain subscription or license holder lists purchased from the Department of Game, Fish and Parks or Department of Public Safety. SDCL §1-27-1.11.

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  • Tennessee

    There is no limitation of use of public records.

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  • Texas

    Nothing in the Act restricts subsequent use of the information, and once information has been released to one member of the general public, it must be made available to anyone. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.007; Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-192 (1978); Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-163 (1977); Tex. Att’y Gen. ORD-490 (1988) (“the act prohibits ‘selective disclosure.”); Tex. Comptroller of Pub. Accounts, 354 S.W.3d at 343.

    NOTE: The boundaries of the Act largely have been defined by the Texas Attorney General either in standard Attorney General opinions or in more than 680 “Open Records Decisions,” or ORDs. Open records decisions address the factual and legal issues involved in deciding whether specific requested information, supplied to the Attorney General for in camera review, is exempt. Standard “Attorney General opinions” only address questions of law, not fact. While Attorney General’s interpretation of the Act may be persuasive, it is not controlling.  City of Dallas v. Abbott, 304 S.W.3d 380, 384 (Tex. 2010).

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  • Utah

    GRAMA imposes no restrictions on the public’s use of the information disclosed by the government; however, a court may “limit the requester’s use and further disclosure” to safeguard certain interests in the case of private, protected, or controlled records. Utah Code § 63G-2-404(8)(b).

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  • Vermont

    The use to which someone plans to put the documents is irrelevant when determining whether a request under the Public Records Act should be granted.  See Finberg v. Murnane, 159 Vt. 431, 437-438, 623 A.2d 979, 983 (Vt. 1992).  However, Vermont courts have been very clear that “the public records request process should not be used to enlarge the scope of discovery or permit parties litigating with the government to do an end run around discovery rules.”  Wesco, Inc. v. Sorrell, 2004 VT 102, ¶ 22, 865 A.2d 350, 358 (Vt. 2004); see also Killington, Ltd. v. Lash, 153 Vt. 628, 646, 572 A.2d 1368, 1379 (Vt. 1990) (holding that permitting disclosure of government work-product documents “would create an unwarranted advantage for parties in litigation with the government, since whatever lay outside the scope of discovery under Rule 26 would be accessible through the Access to Public Records statute”).

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  • Virginia

    a. No Restriction on Use: The Act does not restrict the use of the information obtained.

    b. Commercial Purposes: A request under the Act is not invalid because it is made for a purpose other than to monitor government operations. It is permissible for a citizen to secure information under the Act for commercial purposes. See Associated Tax Service v. Fitzpatrick, 236 Va. 181, 372 S.E.2d 625 (1988).

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  • Washington

    There are no other restrictions on subsequent use of information provided.

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  • West Virginia

    It is not necessary for a requester to indicate the use intended for the documents requested. It may, however, be advisable in some circumstances to indicate the underlying purpose if it is that the public body receiving the request is likely to endorse or at least toward which the agency will have no negative reaction. Highland Mining Co. v. W. Va. Univ. Sch. of Medicine, 235 W. Va. 370, 774 S.E.2d 36, 47 (2015).

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  • Wisconsin

    "[A] requester shall comply with any regulations or restrictions upon . . . use of information which are specifically prescribed by law." Wis. Stat. § 19.35(1)(j).

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  • Wyoming

    The law makes no restrictions on subsequent use of information provided.

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