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Part 15: Nonlawyer’s journey through Title 44: – Prices for sales copies of publications

This post, all earlier postings in this series, and my “not a lawyer” disclaimer can be found at http://freegovinfo.info/title44 or through our library under Nonlawyer’s Journey through Title 44.

44 USC 1708

TITLE 44–PUBLIC PRINTING AND DOCUMENTS

CHAPTER 17–DISTRIBUTION AND SALE OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS

Sec. 1708. Prices for sales copies of publications; crediting of receipts; resale by dealers; sales agents

The price at which additional copies of Government publications are offered for sale to the public by the Superintendent of Documents shall be based on the cost as determined by the Public Printer plus 50 percent. A discount of not to exceed 25 percent may be allowed to book dealers and quantity purchasers, but the printing may not interfere with prompt execution of work for the Government.
The Superintendent of Documents may prescribe terms and conditions under which he authorizes the resale of Government publications by book dealers, and he may designate any Government officer his agent for the sale of Government publications under regulations agreed upon by the Superintendent of Documents and the head of the respective department or establishment of the Government.

(Pub. L. 90-620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1280; Pub. L. 95-94, title IV, Sec. 409(a), Aug. 5, 1977, 91 Stat. 683; Pub. L. 103-69, title II, Sec. 207(b), Aug. 11, 1993, 107 Stat. 708.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on 44 U.S. Code, 1964 ed., Sec. 72a (June 30, 1932, ch. 314,
Sec. 307, 47 Stat. 409).

Amendments

1993–Pub. L. 103-69, in first par., struck out at end “Receipts from general sales of publications in excess of the total costs and expenses incurred in connection with the publication and sale thereof, as determined by the Public Printer, shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States to the credit of miscellaneous receipts.”
1977–Pub. L. 95-94 substituted “Receipts from general sales of publications in excess of the total costs and expenses incurred in connection with the publication and sale thereof, as determined by the Public Printer,” for “Surplus receipts from sales”.

Effective Date of 1993 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 103-69 effective Oct. 1, 1993, see section 207(c) of Pub. L. 103-69, set out as a note under section 309 of this title.

Effective Date of 1977 Amendment

Section 409(b) of Pub. L. 95-94 provided that: “The amendment made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall take effect on October 1, 1977.”

Section Referred to in Other Sections

This section is referred to in sections 1504, 4102 of this title.

Surprising as it may seem, Congress placed limits on how much the Government Printing Office (GPO) could charge for government documents. Those who weren’t surprised by Congress setting limits might be surprised that that price is higher than the cost of producing the item.

I speculate that the original purpose was to get a little more money for the general treasury. Up until 1993, this section of the law required any funds receive over and above the costs of production be deposited into the US Treasury. Public Law 103-69 deleted that provision, allowing (I believe) excess funds to stay with GPO to be plowed back into the sales program.

Unfortunately for the sales program, 1993 was the same year that Public Law 103-40, known as the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Enhancement Act of 1993 passed Congress. That legislation created GPO Access, a wonderful source of free government information (after a short-lived attempt at a pay service) that largely killed bread and butter subscription to titles like the Federal Register and the Congressional Record. But we will save a full discussion of PL 103-40 and related laws until our journey reaches 44 USC ch. 41, Access to Federal Electronic Government Information.

Next time we will examine the law of blank forms and tie this hopefully serious look at Title 44 to our Best Titles Ever!

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