In addition to a charge for the search, retrieval or redaction of records, an agency may charge a fee for the copying of records or data but, in the case of electronic records, this fee is limited to the actual cost of the media on which the records or data are produced. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(c)(2).
Except where otherwise provided by statute, fees are not more than 50 cents per page for computer printouts, plus the “actual cost incurred from the use of the computer time.” 950 CMR 32.06(1). However, “[t]he only such ‘actual costs’ which may be recovered are: the cost of the energy consumed during use, the materials used, and the prorated salary of the computer operator.” SPR Bulletin 4-96, Fees for Access and Copying of Electronic Public Records (June 7, 1996). The custodian is required to develop a program for segregating responsive electronic data from exempt data, and, again, only actual costs may be charged. SPR Bulletin 4-96, at 2. In any event, the fee may not include costs expended to develop the database, input data, create the original records (unless the custodian is voluntarily creating a record in response to the request, see III.B, above) or organize files; because a records custodian has an independent, affirmative obligation to maintain records in an orderly fashion, those costs cannot be passed along to a requester. SPR Bulletin 4-96 (June 7, 1996); Guide to Mass. Pub. Recs. Law (Sec’y of State, rev. March 2009), at 3.
In some instances, statutes prescribe fees for specific types of records. See, e.g., G.L. c. 66, § 10(a) (pertaining to motor vehicle accident reports, fire insurance reports, and other records of police or fire departments); G.L. c. 262, § 38 (copies of Registry of Deeds records). The records custodian may charge the actual cost of reproduction (as defined below) for a copy of a record “not susceptible to ordinary means of reproduction, such as large computer records….” Guide to Mass. Pub. Recs. Law (Sec’y of State, rev. March 2009), at 2; 950 CMR 32.06(1)(f).
Pursuant to 65 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 67.1307(e), agencies may impose a flat rate, a subscription fee for a period of time, a per-transaction fee, a fee based on the cumulative time of system access, or any other reasonable method for “enhanced electronic access.” The user fees for enhanced electronic access must be reasonable, pre-approved by the Office of Open Records, and absent an intent or effect of excluding persons or creating profit for the agency. 65 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 67.1307(e).
Generally, the cost of obtaining a copy of public information must be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to producing the public information, including costs of materials, labor, and overhead. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.261. In the event the response to a request for information requires programming or manipulation of data, the cost of providing the information in electronic form is determined in accordance with the rules established by the Attorney General under Section 552.262. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.231(b)(4). If a request for a copy of public information will result in the imposition of a charge under this subchapter that exceeds $40, or a request to inspect a paper record will result in the imposition of a charge under Section 552.271 exceeding $40, the governmental body must provide the requester with a written itemized statement that details all estimated charges. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.2615.
Fees for electronic records, like all others, may not exceed “the actual, necessary and direct cost of providing the information.” WIREdata, Inc. v. Village of Sussex, 2008 WI 69, ¶ 107, 310 Wis. 2d 397, 751 N.W.2d 736; seeMedia Placement Servs., Inc. v. Wis. Dep’t of Transp., 2018 WI App 34, 382 Wis. 2d 191, 913 N.W.2d 224 (news media not entitled to free access to government web portal).