August 26, 2005

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.


I have received your letter in which you questioned the authority of a county clerk to charge one dollar for a photocopy and asked whether the clerk is "only allowed to charge the .25 cents under FOIL."

In this regard, county clerks perform a variety of functions, some of which involve county records that are subject to the Freedom of Information Law, others of which may be held in the capacity as clerk of a court. As you are aware, under the Freedom of Information Law, §87(1)(b)(iii), an agency may charge up to twenty-five cents per photocopy, "except when a different fee is otherwise prescribed by statute".

In the case of fees that may be assessed by county clerks, §§8018 through 8021 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules require that county clerks charge certain fees in their capacities as clerks of court and other than as clerks of court. Since those fees are assessed pursuant to statutes other than the Freedom of Information Law, the fees may exceed those permitted under the Freedom of Information Law. Section 8019 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules provides in part that "The fees of a county clerk specified in this article shall supersede the fees allowed by any other statute for the same services...".

Lastly, I note that §8019(f) of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, entitled "Copies of records", states in relevant part that:

"The following fees, up to a maximum of forty dollars per record shall be payable to a county clerk or register for copies of the records of the office except records filed under the uniform commercial code:

1. to prepare a copy of any paper or record on file in his office, except as otherwise provided, sixty-five cents per page with a minimum fee of one dollar thirty cents."

I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding of the matter.


Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director