Government bodies in other states have tried to sell exclusive rights to public records to private companies, which then provide access to paying customers.
A survey of state agencies conducted by FOI Oklahoma Inc., The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, The Associated Press and the Oklahoma Press Association found that this situation does not exist in Oklahoma.
"It hasn't become a problem because the public has said they want copies of records when they want them, and not from a company that charges more for the records," said Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the press association.
According to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, government bodies are allowed to sell records for the cost of duplication and materials to any person or organization, including third-party vendors.
The state Election Board allows the sale of statewide voter registration records on nine-track tape for $150. The board keeps a record of individuals and companies that purchase the database.
On this list are political action committees, individuals and Internet-based information companies.
Quickinfo.net, a division of Infodata.com in Boulder, Colo., is one of the companies that bought the statewide voter registration database. According to its Web site, the company is "a governmental and business network for licensed professionals with a need for 'highly searchable' access to critical public and proprietary information."
Adam Schell of Infodata.com said, "We're here to provide a service to people that need it, not to give information to marketing agencies and brokerage firms."
The state Commerce Department said a portion of its records are maintained by an outside source and published on the Internet through a joint project with Harris InfoSource International Inc. of Twinsburg, Ohio.
According to its Web site, Harris InfoSource "offers companies the opportunity to gain a competitive edge by making high-quality data available anytime, anywhere."
The Commerce Department publishes lists of manufacturing and processing plants throughout Oklahoma on the Harris InfoSource Web site.
To access the lists, users must pay a fee.