A&A: Direct Costs of Copying

Q: In your CPRA Primer (linked from your web page), it says that agencies may charge for the “direct costs” of copying a document but not for anything else.  Is this in statute somewhere?  I have tried to find it with no success.

A: The statute is California Government Code section 6253(b).  A court has held that “direct cost” generally does not include search and retrieval time.  North County Parents Organization v. Dep’t of Education, 23 Cal. App. 4th 144, 146 (1994).  “Direct cost” does include maintenance costs and the salary of the clerk for time spent copying (essentially, what a copy shop would charge — usually 10-25 cents per page, except for unusual copies).