68 Op. Att'y Gen. 231 (1979)
68 OAG 231  232  233


Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions

17 August 1979

Public Records;

Regulation And Licensing, Department Of;

Neither Section 19.21 Subsection 2, Stats.,
nor any other statute requires or authorizes
the Department of Regulation and Licensing to
have pre-addressed mailing labels for persons
in various licensed professions printed up by
computer programs and processes for use by
private persons or corporations even where a
charge is made.

The Department cannot deny inspection
and copying to protect licensees
from unsolicited mail.

ANN HANEY, Secretary
Department of Regulation & Licensing

Your predecessor asked three questions.

The first question is:

Is the Department of Regulation and Licensing
permitted to prepare and sell to private
parties mailing labels by causing a computer
print out of the names and addresses of
licensees in the various regulated groups?

The answer to this question is no.

Administrative agencies have only such powers
as are expressly granted or necessarily
implied, and any power sought to be exercised
must be found within the four corners of the
statute under which the agency proceeds.

American Brass Co. v. State Board of Health,
245 Wis. 440,
15 N.W.2d 27 (1944).

59 Op. Att'y Gen. 145 (1970), it was stated
that then Section 16.74, Stats. (1973),
would permit the sale of computer programs,
as distinguished from printouts or data,
as surplus, provided that they were
not created for resale purposes.

In 63 Op. Att'y Gen. 302 (1974), it was
stated that the Department of Administration
probably had authority under Section 19.21
Section (1) and (2), Stats., to provide a
private corporation with camera-ready copy,
which is the product of printout of
computer-stored public records, if the costs
were minimal, but that the Department could
not contract on a continuing basis for the
furnishing of such service.

68 OAG 231  232  233

Unlike the Department of Administration
situation, your Department already has
on hand lists of the licensees'
names and addresses.

Where a list is available, it is a public
record and is subject to inspection and
copying, and the list can be furnished to any
person at a reasonable copying charge.

61 Op. Att'y Gen. 297 (1972).

Also see Sections 19.21 Section (2) and 16.61
Section (11)(a), Stats.

The custodian, however, is not required to
make a search or compile a list or report.

52 Op. Att'y Gen. 8 (1963).

Finally, the gummed mailing labels themselves
do not appear to be the type of book report,
pamphlet, or document which is subject to
sale by the Department or through the
Department of Administration.

See Sections 16.79 Section (2), 20.908,
35.87, and 35.91, Stats. If stocks of mailing
labels had been preprinted, those which were
not needed could be sold as surplus.

It would be improper to create a surplus
for the purposes of resale.

Your second question is:

Do the public records statutes, Section
19.21, Stats.,  et seq., require the
Department to provide mailing labels
upon citizen request?

The answer is no.

Section 19.21, Stats., grants any person the
right to inspect and copy or duplicate public
records at his "own expense," but such person
does not have a right to utilize the
equipment of the state to copy or duplicate.

The statute's principal purpose is concerned
with openness in government and a
right to know.

It was not intended to be utilized to enable
any person to secure the same final product,
such as a gummed mailing label, properly
addressed, as the state secures.

I am of the opinion that the labels
themselves, once produced,
are public records.

See Section 16.97 Section (3), Stats.,
as created by Chapter 29, Section 98,
Laws of 1977.

Where the information is stored in a computer
and such memory bank is the only source of
the material, any person can within
reasonable limits insist that there be a run
so that such person can inspect and copy the
information therein contained.

The Department, however, has lists of the
names and addresses of the various
professional persons licensed which
contain the same information as
is on the mailing labels.

As noted, a custodian is not required by
Section 19.21, Stats., to make a search
or compile a list or report.

52 Op. Att'y Gen. 8  (1963).

68 OAG 231  232  233

Your third question is:

May the Department deny requests for mailing
labels on the basis that providing them
is likely to result in the mailing of
unsolicited matters to licensees and
that the benefit to the public of
providing them is outweighed by the
licensees' interest in privacy?

The answer is no.

As noted, the Department is without authority
to furnish mailing labels to private persons
or organizations.

In any event, since the right to inspect,
copy, or duplicate does not depend on
the motive or purpose of the requester,
it could not be denied on the basis of
the reasons set forth in your question.

68 OAG 231  232  233