From: Robert Freeman
Date: Tue, Oct 19, 1999 9:49 AM
Subject: Dear Ms. Owen:

Dear Ms. Owen:

I have received your letter in which you sought guidance concerning a situtation in which
a parent seeks copies of records pertaining to her child, you indicate that the fee for copies
is 25 cents per page, but she says that she cannot afford to pay the fee.

In this regard, when records are accessible to an individual, he or she may inspect them at
no charge. If copies are requested, §87(1(b)(iii) of the Freedom of Information Law
authorizes an agency to charge up to 25 cents per photocopy up to 9 by 14 inches. I note
that it has been held that an agency may charge its established fee, even when the applicant
for records is indigent [see Whitehead v. Morgenthau, 552 NYS2d 518 (1990)].

Notwithstanding the foregoing, there is nothing in the Freedom of Information Law that
prohibits an agency from waiving the fee for copies. As such, you could choose to waive
the fee. It is also noted that many agencies waive fees as a matter of policy when the
request involves a minimal number of copies. Their finding is that it costs more to
accomplish the administrative tasks associated with taking in a small amount of money
than tha amount of the fee.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
NYS Committee on Open Government
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231
(518) 474-2518 - Phone
(518) 474-1927 - Fax
Website -