I personally hardly ever ASK for copies .. I just seek access to view the records. So, I don't pay many fees in my state as just viewing paper records is free. Almost 90% provide copies..of the 10% that do not, I just scan them with a hand scanner (like this http://www.amazon.com/VuPoint-Magic-.../dp/B004SGF8A4) in my state they can charge 20 bucks to scan although I never had anyone ask for the 20 bucks and I used to use a all-in-one printer for scanning until the courts ruled that it has to be a hand scanner.
For electronic records .. I usually, again, just seek to inspect. I usually get these in an electronic format. Some agencies will allow me to simply hand them a flash drive and they'll copy the records and others will send DVDs or other media. Most of the times, at no charge.
As to fees...some states have the cost of copies to be the actual cost of paper and ink w/no charge for finding the records.
Other states allow fees for the records to be found.
Other states have a set fee for copies or a maximum amt per page.
With electronic records that require making a program to extract out from a database, they can charge for the production of a program (can be high) upon the first request (one the program is made subsequent requests will not be charged this programming fee) in my state.
For my state, the max. amt for copies is 50 cents/page (could be a 3 by 5 foot map-still 50 cents) and it should be the costs of actually making copies (some agencies charge 10 cents/pg .. others up to 50 cents/pg).
As with audio recordings, I would seek to inspect (hear) the records instead of asking for copies .. now agencies can just provide you with a copy if they like in many states..other states mandate your access to inspect/hear the record on their system. I would ask to inspect the original and see what they say.
I don't know what you mean by modify....but I sometimes include a boilerplate statement about what a record is and what I am seeking (see attachment-feel free to use it). I have actually had agencies say that a modified doc was sufficient, until I point to the boilerplate verbiage showing that any notes or modifications make it a different record and all versions are being sought. Then they whine and cry but end up coughing up the slightly different records.
SUBCHAPTER F. CHARGES FOR PROVIDING COPIES OF PUBLIC INFORMATION
Sec. 552.261. CHARGE FOR PROVIDING COPIES OF PUBLIC INFORMATION. (a) The charge for providing a copy of public information shall be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to reproducing the public information, including costs of materials, labor, and overhead. If a request is for 50 or fewer pages of paper records, the charge for providing the copy of the public information may not include costs of materials, labor, or overhead, but shall be limited to the charge for each page of the paper record that is photocopied, unless the pages to be photocopied are located in:
(1) two or more separate buildings that are not physically connected with each other; or
(2) a remote storage facility.
(b) If the charge for providing a copy of public information includes costs of labor, the requestor may require the governmental body's officer for public information or the officer's agent to provide the requestor with a written statement as to the amount of time that was required to produce and provide the copy. The statement must be signed by the officer for public information or the officer's agent and the officer's or the agent's name must be typed or legibly printed below the signature. A charge may not be imposed for providing the written statement to the requestor.
(c) For purposes of Subsection (a), a connection of two buildings by a covered or open sidewalk, an elevated or underground passageway, or a similar facility is insufficient to cause the buildings to be considered separate buildings.
(d) Charges for providing a copy of public information are considered to accrue at the time the governmental body advises the requestor that the copy is available on payment of the applicable charges.....
Looks like if you think you got overcharged .. you can file a complaint with your Attny. Gen. office (I don't think many overcharges are found though..one big happy fleet!)
Under 552.3215 it looks like you can file an informal complaint with your DA or other body and they will look it over and make a decision...or you can file a mandamus action in court. So I think that you can follow up w/o the need for a lawyer (not that one is required anyway).
I see some good things and bad things in the Texas FOI laws.
Relief under 552.3215 appears to be a free avenue. From what I can understand from a quick read. I could be wrong.