The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site -



Opinion No. 5465

March 26, 1979


Charge for providing copies of a public record




Charges to be imposed by insurance commissioner for providing copies of a public record

The Insurance Commissioner must charge the rate of $.35 per folio for making copies of public records requested in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

The term 'folio' means 100 words.

Representative H. Lynn Jondahl

House of Representatives

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan 48909

You have asked my opinion as to what fee the Insurance Bureau of the Department of Commerce may charge for copies of documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act, 1976 PA 442; MCLA 15.231 et seq; MSA 4.1801(1) et seq.

The Freedom of Information Act, supra, Sec. 4; MCLA 15.234; MSA 4.1801(4), provides that a public body may charge a fee for providing a copy of a public record. This charge is limited to the actual cost of duplicating and processing the request; and may be waived if it is in the public interest to do so.

However, 1976 PA 442, supra, Sec. 4(4) states:

'This section does not apply to public records prepared under an act or statute specifically authorizing the sales of those public records to the public, or where the amount of the fee for providing a copy of the public record is otherwise specifically provided by an act or statute.'

Thus, by this provision of the Freedom of Information Act, supra, a public body may not waive payment of a charge for copying when the charge is specifically provided for by another statute.

The Insurance Code of 1956, 1956 PA 218, Sec. 240(1)(j); MCLA 500.240(1)(j); MSA 24.1240(1)(j), provides:

'For making copies of any papers in his office the [insurance] commissioner shall charge at the rate of thirty-five cents per folio, and for attaching his certificate there to, fifty cents.'

The term 'folio' is not defined in the current version of the Insurance Code of 1956, supra. However, in Thornton v Village of Sturgis, 38 Mich 639 (1878) the Court held that a legal folio is 100 words, and the Legislature last defined this term in the RJA Sec. 2510; MCLA 600.2510; MSA 27a.2410, which stated:

'The term 'folio,' when used as a measure for computing fees or compensation, shall be construed to mean 100 words, counting every figure necessarily used, as a word . . .'

This section 2510 was amended by 1972 PA 325 to include a subsection 2 which stated:

'When used as a measure of computing fees or compensation, 'page' means three folios.'

Subsequently by enactment of 1977 PA 31, the above-cited section 2510 was entirely rewritten with a deletion of all references to the definition of folio and the substitution of a description of the term 'page.'

Nonetheless, the term 'folio' remains in the RJA Sec. 2534; MCLA 600.2534; MSA 27A.2534, which when amended in 1976 retained the use of the term 'folio' in setting rates for legal advertisements.

Although the fees referred to in the RJA apply only to judicial proceedings, this Act supplies the most recent indication that the term 'folio' as envisioned by the legislature, means 100 words; or three folios to a page.

It is therefore my opinion that the Insurance Commissioner is required to charge $.35 per folio for providing copies of public records in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General