April 10, 1996
Mr. Michael A. Kless
87 Payne Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14220
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence, unless otherwise indicated.
Dear Mr. Kless:
I have received your letter of March 24 in which you wrote that you remain "confused" regarding the fee charged by Erie County Community College for a copy of a transcript. You asked "is the fee that E.C.C. charges $3.00 per transcript instead of $0.25 per page legal (yes or no)."
In previous correspondence, you suggested that the College generates transcripts from a computer. In this regard, I point out that the fee for a photocopy of a record up to nine by fourteen inches can be no more than twenty-five cents per photocopy. The fee for duplicates of other records (i.e., those that cannot be photocopies, such as computer generated materials) would be based on the actual cost of reproduction [see Freedom of Information Law, §87(1)(b)(iii)]. Therefore, if a transcript is computer generated, I believe that the fee that could be charged under the Freedom of Information Law should be based on the actual cost of reproduction.
Nevertheless, it is my understanding, that a transcript is not "official" unless it bears a certification or similar mark indicating that its contents are authentic and accurate. That kind of addition to a record involves action taken separate and distinct from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Law. If a certification or authentication is added to a transcript to guarantee the accuracy of its contents, I believe that an agency may assess a fee above and beyond that authorized by the Freedom of Information Law. I hope that I have been of some assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Office of the President