Connecticut Appeals Court Weighs in on FOIA Copying Costs

| Jun 26, 2008 | Regular Education |

Have you ever received a complaint that you were unfairly charging a member of the public for copying documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) because you charged separately for copying each side of a double-sided piece of paper?  The Court of Appeals now says this practice is perfectly legitimate, since the dictionary definition of a “page” means one side of a piece of paper.  In Williams v. Freedom of Information Commission, 108 Conn.App. 471 (2008), the plaintiff complained about being charged separately for copying each side of a double-sided piece of paper, claiming that this practice violated Section 1-212(e) and the definition of a “page”.  While acknowledging that depending on the context, the term “page” can sometimes mean one side of a piece of paper and other times refers to a double-sided sheet of paper, the court found that the legislature in the State of Connecticut generally defines a “page” as one side of a piece of paper.  Furthermore, although the general purpose of FOIA is to provide reasonably easy access to public records at a relatively low cost, the legislature has acknowledged that there is a cost to public agencies associated with complying with the Act, and has shifted part of that cost to the person requesting copies of the public records.  To the extent that some people find the cost of copies prohibitively expensive, the Act provides that the usual fee may be waived in some instances.

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