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HQ 081819

July 7, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 081819 KK


TARIFF NO: 9006.59.40; 9006.59.90

K. Ohyama
Senior Vice President
& General Manager
Canon U.S.A., Inc.
One Canon Plaza
Lake Success, N.Y. 11042

RE: Electronic still video photographic camera

Dear Mr. Ohyama:

This letter is our response to your request of February 16, 1989, for a binding ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), regarding the tariff classification of Canon's still video cameras (SVC's), models RC 250, RC 470, RC 701 and RC 760. We are also in receipt of your earlier letter of November 24, 1987.


Canon's still video camera models RC 250, RC 470, RC 701, and RC 760 -- the former two models being fixed focus, the latter two being variable focus -- record the image of an object onto a reusable, 50 picture, two-inch video floppy disk. Models RC 470 and RC 760 contain both frame and field mode, while models RC 250 and RC 701 contain only field mode. Only model RC 250 has built-in, direct playback.

Once properly set and "loaded" with a disk, the SVC's are ready for use. As with conventional, hand-held photographic cameras, the user simply takes aim and then presses the shutter release. Put somewhat differently, the SVC's are operated by: (1) composing the subject; (2) setting the shutter; (3) setting the exposure; and (4) releasing the shutter.

The process by which images are recorded onto a video floppy disk is as follows:

Light strikes the photodiodes of a silicon chip. The light energy is in turn transformed into electrical energy. The electrical energy is recorded onto the photodiodes, thus creating the electrical representation of an image. (By contrast, conventional photography records a chemical representation of an image.) A signal processor then transfers the image from the silicon chip to the floppy disk.

To view the stored images -- except in the case of the RC 250 which has a buit-in, direct playback -- the floppy disk is removed from the camera and inserted into a still video playback controller which connects to any television monitor/receiver equipped with video inputs. The images can then be viewed on the television. Hard copies of images can be produced by a color video printer.

While the physical process by which Canon's SVC's reproduce images is significantly different from the physical process by which conventional camera reproduces images, both types of cameras may be properly described as closed box or chamber, containing an aperture through which the image of an object is recorded on light sensitive material.


Whether Canon's SVC's are classifiable in heading 9006, which provides for "[p]hotographic . . . cameras;" or in heading 9013, which provides for "other optical appliances and instruments, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter;" or in heading 8521, which provides for "[v]ideo recording or reproducing apparatus;" or in heading 8525, which provides for "television cameras."


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 states, in part, that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section and chapter notes. The Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System, and are thus useful in ascertaining the tariff classification of merchandise.

Instructive regarding a determination of whether under GRI 1 the Mavica falls to be classified in heading 9006, is United States v. E. Besler & Company, 64 CCPA 121, C.A.D. 1193 (1977).

Citing Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition Unabridged (1939) as its authority, the Besler court defined the term "camera" as "[a] closed box or similar chamber through the aperture of which the image of an object is recorded on a light-sensitive material." Further, in holding that certain optical printers were classifiable under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) as "cameras" in item 722.16, TSUS, the court stated that "the fact that the imports are not adapted to general picture taking but are, instead, special-purpose cameras, does not preclude their being classified as cameras."

All the subject Canon SVC's fall within the Besler court's definition of cameras. In effect, the Canon SVC's possess: (1) a closed box or chamber; (2) an aperture through which the image of an object is recorded; and (3) light sensitive material (photodiodes) upon which an image is recorded.

The Canon SVC's also fall within the article description of "photographic cameras" set forth in Explanatory Note I to heading 9006, which states in pertinent part:

(I) Photographic (other than cinematographic) cameras

This group covers all kinds of photographic cameras . . . whether for professional or amateur use, and whether or not presented with their optical elements (objective lenses, viewfinders, etc.).

There are many different types of cameras, but the conventional type consists essentially of a light-tight chamber, a lense, a shutter, a diaphragm, a holder for a photographic plate or film, and a viewfinder.

In effect, the Explanatory Notes indicate that the term "photographic cameras" includes both conventional and other types of photographic cameras.

In view of the foregoing, in the absence of an HTSUS heading which more specifically describe the Canon SVC's the same are properly classifiable in heading 9006. Insofar as heading 9013 provides for "other optical appliances and instruments, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter, and heading 9006 specifically provides for the subject merchandise, heading 9013 is not applicable. Further, the Canon SVC's cannot fall to be classified in Chapter 85, heading 8521, "[v]ideo recording or reproducing apparatus," or in heading 8525, "television cameras," by operation of Section XVI, Note 1(m), which states that Section XVI "does not cover . . . [a]rticles of Chapter 90." Accordingly, the Canon SVC's falls to be classified in heading 9006.


The Canon SVC models RC 250 and RC 470, which are fixed focus, are properly classifiable in subheading 9006.59.40, HTSUS, which provides for "[p]hotographic . . . cameras . . . [o]ther . . . [f]ixed focus," dutiable at the rate of 4 percent ad valorem. The Canon SVC models RC 701 and RC 760, which are variable focus, are properly classifiable in subheading 9006.59.90, HTSUS, which provides for "[p]hotographic . . . cameras . . . [o]ther . . . [o]ther than fixed focus . . . [v]alued at over $10 each, dutiable at the rate of 3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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