Thursday, November 14, 2013

Public records in Massachusetts

The Globe today has an editorial endorsing a bill pending in the state legislature that would update our public records law.  About once each month citing the public records law from someone requesting a particular document.  Since our records are all freely available on our website, I typically direct the person to that.  Occasionally a request will be for "all records" of land ownership which is 10 million pages worth of scanned images.  There requests I direct to the Secretary of State's office which has the technical capability of copying and transferring large quantities of electronic material.  From prior investigation, I do know that a such a request is a legitimate one under the public records law with the caveat that the public records law only applies to records in existence at the time the request is made.  Someone seeking to obtain all registry land records on an ongoing basis, therefore, would have to repeatedly request the latest records.  Since that task would be particularly burdensome on the requester, those making such requests tend to be willing to enter into some type of voluntary subscription agreement (for a reasonable fee) that would provide them with new records and a continuous basis.

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