Legal Hotline: Redaction Fees

Legal Hotline: Redaction Fees

PNA Legal Hotline

Q:  I filed a Right-to-Know request seeking to inspect records.  I want to inspect the records before requesting copies to help me decide which records are most relevant and to reduce copy fees.  The agency granted my request, but the agency has imposed an $8.00 fee for redaction.  Can they do that?

A: Yes, but only if the agency must make paper copies in order to redact non-public information prior to inspection.

The RTKL does not permit agencies to charge a fee for inspecting public records, but it does permit agencies to charge fees for copies.  Similarly, the RTKL also does not permit agencies to impose fees for redaction unless the redaction requires copies to be printed. If redaction requires printed copies, the agency may charge copy fees as permitted under the law. The Office of Open Records has set the fee for black & white paper copies at .25 per page.

If the records in this case require redaction that can only be accomplished by printing a paper copy, the agency can impose a $.25 per page fee for black and white copies.  If, after inspecting the records, the requester chooses to obtain the printed copies, no additional fee may be charged. It is important to note that only those pages that must be printed to be redacted can result in fees.  Any records that do not require printing cannot be included in the redaction fee calculation.

Finally, requesters should also note that the imposition of fees and all redactions can be appealed to the appropriate RTKL appeal office, which is most commonly the Office of Open Records.

As always, this is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.  Please contact the PNA Legal Hotline at (717) 703-3080 for more specific guidance or with questions.