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HQ 086848

April 20, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086848 CMS


TARIFF NO.: 9013.80.60

Mr. Sal Della Ventura, Manager
Classification and Compliance
Sony Corporation Of America
Sony Drive
Park Ridge, NJ 07656

RE: Sony Mavica Electronic Still Image Camera, Model MVC-C1

Dear Mr. Della Ventura,

It has been determined that the Sony Mavica Electronic Still Image Camera, Model MVC-C1 is classified in 9013.80.60, HTSUSA. HQ Ruling 083996 (June 22, 1989), which classified the camera in subheading 9006.59.40 is revoked pursuant to 19 C.F.R. Section 177.9(d) and is superseded by this ruling.


The merchandise consists of the Sony Mavica Electronic Still Image Camera, Model MVC-C1 (Mavica). The Mavica is imported with a soft vinyl carrying case and a 2" magnetic "floppy" disc. Electronic still image cameras are commonly referred to as still video cameras ("SVC's"). SVC's utilize solid-state electronic technology and incorporate charge coupled devices ("CCD's"). CCD's are semiconductors which contain a grid of numerous photosensitive cells, or pixels. As the image-forming light of an object is focused onto the grid, each pixel receives a certain quantity of light which is translated into an electrical charge. The result is a pattern of electrical charges which represents an image. The electrical charges are subsequently processed by the SVC into magnetic analog signals for storage on the floppy disc. Up to 50 still images can be stored on the floppy disc. The images can then be viewed on a television screen or video monitor, or hard copies can be made with an electronic printer.


Are still video cameras classified as photographic cameras in Heading 9006, television cameras in Heading 8525, other electrical apparatus in Heading 8543, or other optical apparatus in Heading 9013?


Still video cameras are also commonly described as electronic cameras, solid state cameras, electronic still cameras and electronic still image cameras. There is no eo nomine provision for SVC's under any of their common descriptions.

The two types of cameras specifically described in the HTSUSA to which SVC's are most similar are photographic cameras and television cameras.

Photographic Cameras

Heading 9006 describes photographic cameras. Under the criteria set forth in United States v. E. Besler & Company, 64 CCPA 121, C.A.D. 1193 (1977), HQ Ruling 083996 (June 22, 1989) determined that SVC's are cameras. After a further analysis the term "photographic" and the HTSUSA classifications for photographic and non-photographic articles, it has been determined that SVC's are not photographic cameras under the HTSUSA.

Photographic cameras are specifically described in Heading 9006. No definition for "photographic" or "photography" is provided in the Chapter Notes or Explanatory Notes to Chapter 90. Chapter 90 comes under Section XVIII; there are no Section XVIII notes.

Lexicographic definitions generally provide that photography is a process whereby images are produced by the action of light on sensitized surfaces. The first photographic cameras produced images through a process involving a photochemical reaction. Some lexicographic authorities limit "photography" to a process involving photochemical reactions (see Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Ed. (1973), p. 1085, and Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 17 (1963), p.802). Other lexicographic authorities do not necessarily require that "photography" involve a photochemical reaction (see Webster's New International Dictionary, Unabridged, 2nd Ed. (1939), p.1847, and McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 6th Ed., Vol. 13 (1987), p. 390).

In St. Regis v. United States, 11 CIT 601 (1987), the Court of International Trade adopted a "broad" definition of
photography in finding that certain paper used in electrostatic photocopying was classified as photographic paper under the TSUS. The Court stated:

It is the opinion of the Court that the common meaning of the term "photography" should be construed as encompassing any process in which images are produced directly or indirectly on a sensitized surface by the action of light or other form of radiant energy.

St. Regis, supra, p. 604.

A "broad" definition of photography is also provided in the Chapter Notes to Chapter 37. (Chapter 37 covers photographic and cinematographic goods, including photographic film, plates, paper and developers). Chapter 37 Note 2 provides:

In this Chapter the word "photographic" relates to a process which permits the formation of visible images directly or indirectly by the action of light or other forms of radiation on sensitive surfaces.

A broad definition of photography, which is not limited to a process involving a photochemical reaction, should be used in the classification of Chapter 90 articles because (1) the common meaning of "photography" is a broad definition, (2) the only definition for "photographic" provided in the HTSUSA is a broad definition, and (3) certain Chapter 90 apparatus which function without photochemical reactions are considered by the HTSUSA to be photographic (e.g. electrostatic photocopiers). This broad definition, which is consistent with both the St. Regis and Chapter 37 Note 2 definitions, provides that photography is a process whereby:

1) an image is produced directly or indirectly,

2) by the action of light or other radiant energy,

3) on a photosensitive surface.

This definition provides criteria which articles must satisfy to be classified as Chapter 90 photographic apparatus. However, some articles which appear to meet the definition but use an advanced electrical process are not classified as photographic apparatus (e.g. television cameras, classified in Heading 8525, which produce images by the action of light on a photosensitive semiconducting surface). Thus, the definition of photography is broad enough to cover apparatus which function
without photochemical reactions; however, the definition is not broad enough to cover articles which meet its criteria but function through a process which under the HTSUSA is principally electrical and not principally photographic.

The first step in determining whether SVC's are classifiable as photographic apparatus is to determine whether they are substantially similar to apparatus which are classifiable as photographic. The photographic apparatus to which SVC's are most similar are electrostatic photocopiers, classifiable in Heading 9009. Like SVC's, electrostatic copiers produce images by the action of light on semiconducting material. (Although electrostatic photocopiers are not specifically described as "photographic", it is clear that they are considered to be photographic under the HTSUSA. Materials specifically used in the development of electrostatic copies are described in Heading 3707 as products or preparations for "photographic uses" (See Explanatory Note 2 to Heading 3707, p. 514, para. 2)).

Electrostatic copiers reflect light from an original document onto a photosensitive semiconducting surface (drum, plate or paper) which has been charged with static electricity. Lighter areas of the original document reflect more light and darker areas reflect less light. The charge on the photosensitive surface is dissipated according to the amount of light reflected onto it, resulting in a latent (invisible) image. The latent image is then "developed" by exposing it to ink-type particles which stick only to the charged areas of the photosensitive surface. The ink is permanently fused by heat treatment to the substrate on which the finished copy is formed.

SVC's and electrostatic photocopiers are similar in that they both produce images by electrical means. However, the difference between their particular electrical processes is substantial. Electrostatic copiers use an electrostatic process, whereas SVC's use an electronic process. The difference between electrostatics and electronics lies in the emphasis on the motion of electrical charges or current. Mcgraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, supra, Vol. 6, p. 250 describes "electrostatics" as follows:

The class of phenomena recognized by the presence of electrical charges, either stationary or moving, and the interaction of these charges, this interaction being solely by reason of the charges and their positions and not by reason of their motion. (emphasis supplied)

Mcgraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, supra, Vol 6, p. 235 describes "electronics" as follows:

The branch of science and technology relating to the conduction and control of electricity flowing through semiconductor materials or through vacuum or gases. Electronics is concerned with the study and applications of the motions of charge carriers (electrons, holes and ions) under the influence of externally applied voltage or current, or in relation to the incidence or production of radiant energy. (emphasis supplied)

The process utilized in electrostatic photocopiers is electrostatic because images are formed as a result of the static (stationary) position of the charge (or charged areas) on the photosensitive surface. The ink-type particles will only "interact" (stick to) areas of the photosensitive surface which remain charged after light is reflected onto it from the original document. The charged areas of the photosensitive surface maintain their position until such time as the ink-type particles have been attracted to it to form a visible image.

Unlike the electrostatic process, the process utilized by still video cameras involves the substantial flow of electrical current. Current flows through and between numerous electrical components in order to process light energy into magnetic-analog signals for storage on a floppy disc. Upon the focusing of light onto the numerous cells or pixels on the SVC's charge coupled device, an electrical current is applied to the cells in order to sequentially transfer (or "couple") each cell's charge to other cells. The resulting electrical signals are then further processed for storage on the recording medium. Additional electronic processing must occur for the electronic image-forming pattern to be reassembled on a video monitor or electronic printer.

Because SVC's are not substantially similar to electrostatic copiers, they cannot be described as photographic by analogizing them to such copiers. This distinction would not in itself, however, preclude SVC's from being classified as photographic apparatus. A factor which would preclude such a classification would be if the process used by SVC's is substantially similar to the processes used by apparatus which the HTSUSA classifies as electrical and not photographic apparatus.

The classification of SVC's as electrical apparatus in Chapter 85 and not as photographic apparatus in Chapter 90 is supported by the facts that (1) major components of the SVC, if
classified separately, and (2) apparatus which produce images through a process to which the SVC process is very similar are classified as electrical articles in Chapter 85.

The SVC's photosensitive "surface", the CCD, is a semiconductor and would be classified as a "photosensitive semiconductor device" in Heading 8541 if classified separately. The SVC's recording medium, the magnetic "floppy" disc would fall in Heading 8523 if classified separately. Although not part of a SVC itself, the apparatus on which the SVC's images are displayed, television screens or video monitors, would fall in Heading 8528.

The device described in the HTSUSA which functions by a process most similar to the SVC is the television camera (solid- state variety), classified in Heading 8525. Like SVC's, solid- state television cameras use a CCD to process light into electrical patterns which represent images. (See Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, 7th Ed. (1989), p. 2797).

In addition to the guidance provided by the HTSUSA's classification of electrical articles, there is lexicographic authority for the position that electronic devices which use CCD's are distinguished from photographic articles. The McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, supra, Vol. 3, p. 168, provides:

Electronic camera. Advances in the field of solid-state electronics have made possible the development of the electronic still camera. Unlike photographic cameras, in which film senses and records the image-forming light, the electronic still camera uses a solid-state image sensor to sense the image-forming light and a separate recording medium to record and store the picture. (underscoring supplied)

In our opinion an electronic still video camera which uses a charge coupled device and records electrical representations of images on magnetic discs principally functions as an electrical apparatus and not as a photographic apparatus. Thus, still video cameras are not classifiable as photographic cameras in Heading 9006.

Television Cameras

Although SVC's and solid-state television cameras both produce images through an electronic process, the two types of
cameras have substantially different capabilities and uses. While SVC's are designed to produce single "still" images, television cameras produce images in rapid succession to portray action. SVC's are not designed to produce images in a sufficiently rapid succession to portray action.

Television cameras are described in Heading 8525. No definition for "television" is specifically provided in any of the HTSUSA Section, Chapter or Explanatory Notes. The common meaning for television encompasses a process whereby rapidly changing pictures are transmitted through electro- magnetic waves or by line, usually up to 30 "frames" a second, in real time or by storage and retrieval. (See Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, supra, p. 2794, and McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, supra, Vol 18, p. 180).

Although a single "frozen" television picture would very closely resemble a "still" video image, television cameras are principally designed to produce images in rapid succession. By their own description, SVC's produce "still" images. SVC's are not television cameras and cannot be classified as television cameras in Heading 8525.

Classification Of SVC's

Still video cameras function through an advanced electrical (solid-state electronic) process. There is no provision for electrical apparatus that specifically describes SVC's. SVC's are classifiable as electrical apparatus, having individual functions, not included elsewhere, in Heading 8543.

SVC's are also classifiable as other optical apparatus in Heading 9013. SVC's satisfy the definition for "optical" apparatus provided in Chapter 90 U.S. Note 3.

Articles which are classifiable in Chapter 90 are excluded by Section XVI Note 1(m) from being classified in Chapter 85. SVC's are thus classified in Heading 9013.

The Sony Mavica Electronic Still Image Camera, Model MVC-C1 is classified in 9013.80.60, HTSUSA. The soft vinyl carrying case, when presented with the Mavica, is classified with the Mavica as a GRI 5(a) case. Chapter 85 Note 6 provides that records, tapes and other media classifiable in Headings 8523 and 8524 are classified in those headings regardless of whether they are entered with the apparatus for which they are intended. Unrecorded magnetic ("floppy") discs are described by subheading 8523.20.00 and the floppy discs are classified there whether or not they are entered with the Mavica.


HQ Ruling 083996 (June 22, 1989) is revoked pursuant to 19 C.F.R. Section 177.9(d). The Sony Mavica Electronic Still Image Camera, Model MVC-C1 is classified in 9013.80.60, HTSUSA. The soft vinyl carrying case, when presented with the Mavica, is classified with the Mavica as a GRI 5(a) case. The floppy disc is classified in 8523.20.00, HTSUSA whether or not it is entered with the Mavica.


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