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HQ 964368

July 17, 2002

RR:CR:GC 964368 JLV


TARIFF NO.: 8525.30.90

Director, Port of San Francisco
U.S. Customs Service
555 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

RE: Protest 2809-00-100422; ViewQuest USB PC camera; television camera; subheading 8525.30; subheading 8525.40; subheading 8471.60; input units for ADP machine; still image video camera

Dear Port Director:

You have forwarded Protest 2809-00-100422 which was timely filed on June 29, 2000, against your decision to classify the ViewQuest USB PC camera as a television camera in subheading 8525.30, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Our decision follows.


Protest 2809-00-100422 was filed on June 29, 2000, against your decision in which you classified the ViewQuest USB PC cameras, in subheading 8525.30, HTSUS, and rate advanced the entries from “free” under subheading 8525.40.40, HTSUS, to “2.1% ad valorem under subheading 8525.30.90, HTSUS. The protest concerns two entries, Nos. 2008xxxxx of July 21, 1999, and 2008xxxxx of November 26, 1999, both of which were liquidated on March 31, 2000.

The ViewQuest PC camera is designed to be connected to the USB port of a computer without the need for a video board in the computer. The video capture resolution ranges from 176x144 to 640x480 pixels with a transfer rate of 30 frames per second (fps) at 176x144, 20-26 fps at 352x288 and 10 fps at 640x480. The PC camera also has the ability to take still images up to a resolution of 640x480. The PC camera also incorporates a view finder and a “snapshot” button for taking still images. Mounted on a swivel base, the PC camera does not have an internal memory for storage of images and cannot function when disconnected from the computer.

The basic components of the PC camera, all of which are incorporated into a housing mounted on a swivel base, are as follows: a ¼-inch CCD (charged-coupled device) image sensor, a manually-focused lens, and a data-conversion device for converting the analog CCD capture into digital data format for transmission by USB cable. Typically, these small cameras capture images in the form of electrical charges created by light hitting the pixels on the CCD. These electrical charges are then converted to digital signals (e.g., by an analog-to-digital converter chip), compressed and transmitted to the computer. These images may then be processed by the software programs installed on the computer.

Included with the camera is a CD-ROM with software which, when installed on a computer, enables the camera to be used with the computer as a video phone, as a still image camera, as a camera to capture and send video E-mail or to store or edit still images and video.

The protestant argues that this PC camera cannot be classified in subheading 8525.40, HTSUS, as a television camera. First, the protestant points out that the camera is entirely dependent upon the computer in order to function. Specifically, the camera cannot operate without the power derived from the computer and without the software program installed on the computer. The camera can only be connected by a USB port to a computer.

As a matter of law, protestant argues that these cameras do not satisfy the basic description of a “television” camera because they do not transmit signals in a standard television format (e.g., NTSC or PAL). Furthermore, protestant argues that these cameras satisfy the criteria for a unit of an automatic data processing machine as set out in Note 5(B) to Chapter 84. Therefore, protestant concludes that these cameras are properly classified in subheading 8471.60, HTSUS, or, in the alternative, are classified in subheading 8525.40, HTSUS, as still image video cameras (the provision under which they were entered by the importer).

Your decision to classify in subheading 8525.30 was based, in part, on the fact that these PC cameras do not have a storage capability that is required of cameras of subheading 8525.40, and the principal function of the PC cameras is to capture images and transmit them, which is the basic function of television cameras.


Is the ViewQuest USB PC camera classifiable as a unit of an ADP machine in subheading 8471.60, HTSUS, or is it properly classifiable in subheading 8525.30, HTSUS, as a television camera?


The underlying classification issue is not new. In HQ 958632, dated January 25, 1996, the TeleCamera Series 4000, 5000 and 6000 cameras, designed to be connected to an ADP machine and used for videoconferencing, were classified in subheading 8525.30 as television cameras. In other rulings on similar cameras, all of which were designed to be connected to an ADP machine, Customs held that these cameras were classifiable in subheading 8525.30 as television cameras (see NY A84032 of May 31, 1996; NY B81818 of February 13, 1997; NY A81240 of March 18, 1996; and NY F88315 of June 29, 2000).

The relevant legal notes and competing tariff provisions from the HTSUS (1999) are:

Note 5 to Chapter 84

5. (A) For the purposes of heading No. 84.71, the expression “ automatic data processing machines ” means

(B) Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separate units. Subject to paragraph (E) below, a unit is to be regarded as being a part of a complete system if it meets all of the following conditions :

(a) It is of a kind solely or principally used in an automatic data processing system;

(b) It is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and

(c) It is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system.

(C) Separately presented units of an automatic data processing machine are to be classified in heading No. 84.71.

(D) Printers, keyboards, X-Y co-ordinate input devices and disk storage units which satisfy the conditions of paragraphs (B) (b) and (B) (c) above, are in all cases to be classified as units of heading No. 84.71.

(E) Machines performing a specific function other than data processing and incorporating or working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine are to be classified in the headings appropriate to their respective functions or, failing that, in residual headings.

Heading 8471

8471 Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, not elsewhere specified or included:

8471.60 Input or output units, whether or not containing storage units in the same housing:

Heading 8525

8525 Transmission apparatus for radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, radiobroadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras or other video camera recorders:

8525.30 Television cameras:

8525.40 Still image video cameras and other video camera recorders:

The facts indicate that, as presented, the camera is designed to be connected to an ADP machine for capturing images that are transmitted to the ADP machine. As such, it satisfies the criteria (a) through (c) set out in Note 5(B) to Chapter 84 and could be considered an input unit for an ADP machine. It is connectable to an ADP machine, converts signals into digital ADP signals so that they can be read and processed by an ADP machine, and is used solely with an ADP machine.

However, Note 5 to Chapter 84 also provides in pertinent part, at (E), that “machines performing a specific function other than data processing and * * * working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine are to be classified in the headings appropriate to their respective functions.” In this case, the product in question is a machine known as a “camera.” The function of this camera is to transmit video images captured by the CCD. Heading 8525 provides, in part, for certain types of cameras that are not film-based cameras. Cameras of heading 8525 are digital or analog cameras that either transmit signals or record images on magnetic or other non-film media. Specifically, heading 8525 (HTSUS 1999) provides for two categories of cameras: “television cameras” (subheading 8525.30) and “still image video cameras or other video camera recorders” (subheading 8525.40).

Cameras, whether digital or analog, which are “still image video cameras or other video camera recorders” are cameras which have the ability to record and store still images or video on the camera. The legal text describes these cameras as “recorders.” While not legally binding, Explanatory Note (EN) 85.25 to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), section (D), page 1489, (2nd Edition, 1996), indicate that the cameras of this category “record the images taken by the camera.” Therefore, the PC camera would not fall within the terms of heading 8525 for still image video cameras and other video camera recorders.

The other category of cameras in heading 8525 is the category of television cameras. Television cameras are typically cameras used for transmission of video. EN 85.25, section (E), at page 1488 (2nd Edition, 1996), describes these cameras as including, for example, “television cameras for television studios or for reporting, those used for industrial or scientific purposes or for supervising traffic.” Television cameras, in effect, are essentially cameras designed to transmit video images. The ViewQuest USB PC camera captures and transmits video images to the ADP machine (computer) for processing or for direct transmission over the Internet. Whether a camera transmits video directly to a television, to a video monitor for surveillance, or to a computer for display or processing, it performs the function of a category of cameras that fall within the term “television cameras” of heading 8525.

Therefore, to the extent that it is a “camera” and performs the function of image transmission, it performs a function of a good of heading 85.25, specifically that of a television camera. Pursuant to Note 5(E) to Chapter 84, cameras are precluded from classification as units of ADP machines in heading 8471 and is properly classifiable in heading 8525, and specifically in subheading 8525.30.90, HTSUS, as other television cameras.


The ViewQuest USB PC cameras are correctly classifiable in subheading 8525.30.90, HTSUS (1999), as other television cameras. The protest should be denied.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the Protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter.

Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov and by means of the Freedom of Information Act and other methods of public distribution.


Myles B. Harmon

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