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HQ 965611

September 25, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965611 RFC


TARIFF NO.: 9007.19.80

U.S. Customs Area Director
U.S. Customs Service
John F. Kennedy Airport, Cargo Building 77 Jamaica, NY 11430

RE: Protest No. 1001-00-101609; digital cinematographic film recording system

Dear Area Director:

This is in reference to a Protest No.1001-00-101609 filed by counsel for Arriflex Corporation, Inc., contesting the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of a digital cinematographic film recording system.


The record reflects the following: In an April 19, 2002, letter, counsel for Arriflex Corporation, Inc., states that a protest was filed against the classification of the above-mentioned merchandise by Customs, and that the protest and the documents for the entry were presumably destroyed on September 11, 2001, with the destruction of the U.S. Customs Service office at 6 World Trade Center in New York City.

Counsel submitted with its letter a copy of the protest (on CF-19) it states was filed with Customs. That document has a signature date of April 7, 2000.

The merchandise was entered and imported on April 13, 1999. The entry was liquidated on March 17, 2000. The port received the protest on April 10, 2000. Therefore, the protest was filed in a timely manner within ninety days from the date of liquidation.

The merchandise was entered under HTSUS subheading 8521.90.00. It was apparently classified under HTSUS subheading 9013.80 at liquidation.

The protestant contends that the merchandise is classified in HTSUS subheading 8471.80.90, and in the alternative in HTSUS subheading 8471.60.57 or subheading 9010.50.60.

The product is known as the “Arrilaser.” It is a laser-based film recorder that transfers digitally produced images (e.g., computer-generated special effects) onto conventional 35 mm movie film.

In response to a request for additional information from the port, the protestant in a May 10, 1999, letter describes the product as follows:

Description/Usages: Arrilaser is a film recording device, which records digital images onto film. It is used in post production houses, film recording facilities and laboratories units.

Operation: The Arrilaser transfers digital data transfer using three solid state lasers to record images onto film.

Product literature indicates that:

The Arrilaser bridges the gap between digital film production and analog film projection. It is the first cine film recorder to use three solid state lasers as light source, setting a new standard in productivity and reliability, significantly reducing the cost of recording digital images onto film.

Other literature indicates that:

The Arrilaser film recorders sets a new standard for the recording of digital image data onto 35 mm film.

The Arrilaser system consists of two main components: the host computer and the film recorder. The host computer connects to an external digital infrastructure, processes image data and transfers it to the film recorder. The file recorder contains the electronics, optics and scanner modules as well as the film camera and separate supply and take-up magazines.

In a submission that accompanied the above-mentioned April 19, 2002, letter, it states that “[t]he Arrilaser transfers a digital image to a final print on 35mm movie film.” In another submission that accompanied that same letter, it states that “[t]he ARRILASER is intended for use in digital post-production of cinematographic film for example, in special effects work, editing and print enhancement.”


What is the classification under the HTSUS of the above-described merchandise?


Merchandise imported into the United States is classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The tariff classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUS and are to be considered statutory provisions of law for all purposes. See Sections 1204(a) and 1204(c) of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (19 U.S.C. § 1204(a), 1204(c)).

GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule (i.e., (1) merchandise is to be classified under the 4-digit heading that most specifically describes the merchandise; (2) only 4-digit headings are comparable; and (3) merchandise must first satisfy the provisions of a 4-digit heading before consideration is given to classification under a subheading within this 4-digit heading) and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, then according to the other GRIs.

GRI 6 prescribes that, for legal purposes, GRIs 1 to 5 shall govern, mutatis mutandis, classification at subheading levels within the same heading. Therefore, merchandise is to be classified at equal subheading levels (i.e., at the same digit level) within the same 4-digit heading under the subheading that most specifically describes or identifies the merchandise.

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (hereinafter "Harmonized System") represent the official interpretation of the Customs Cooperation Council on the scope of each heading. See H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. 549 (1988); 23 Customs Bulletin No. 36, 3 (T.D. 89-90, September 6, 1989), 59 F.R. 35127 (August 23, 1989). Although not binding on the contracting parties to the Harmonized System Convention or considered to be dispositive in the interpretation of the Harmonized System, the Explanatory Notes should be consulted on the proper scope of the Harmonized System. Id.

As indicated above, the product has been said to be classifiable in headings 8471, 9010 and 9013. A review of the HTSUS reveals that the product is also potentially classifiable in heading 9007.

Heading 8471 provides for “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.”

Note 5 (E) to chapter 84 provides as follows:

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.

The Explanatory Notes to note 5(E) to Chapter 84 state as follows:

In accordance with the provisions of Note 5 (E) to Chapter 84, the following classification principles should be applied in the case of a machine incorporating or working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine, and performing a specific function:

A machine incorporating an automatic data processing machine and performing a specific function other than data processing is classifiable in the heading corresponding to the function of that machine or, in the absence of a specific heading, in a residual heading, and not in heading 84.71.

Machines presented with an automatic data processing machine and intended to work in conjunction therewith to perform a specific function other than data processing, are to be classified as follows:
the automatic data processing machine must be classified separately in heading 84.71 and the other machines in the heading corresponding to the function which they perform unless, by application of Note 4 to Section XVI or Note 3 to Chapter 90, the whole is classified in another heading of Chapter 84, Chapter 85 or of Chapter 90.

HS Explanatory Notes to Note 5(E) to Chapter 84 (2nd ed., 1996), page 1235.

In the instant case, the specific function that the product performs is other than data processing. That specific function is one of creating a photographic image. (The heading appropriate to this function is in chapter 90.) Therefore, the Arrilaser film recording system is precluded from classification in heading 8471 by application of note 5(E) to chapter 84. See also HQ 964840 (July 23, 2001) (digital color film recorder used to produce 35 mm slides or negatives excluded from classification in heading 8471 by note 5(E) of chapter 84).

Heading 9007 provides for “cinematographic cameras and projectors, whether or not incorporating sound recording or reproducing apparatus.” The final output of the product under consideration is exposed cinematographic film. Therefore, by application of GRI 1 and note 5 (E) to chapter 84, the digital film recorder under consideration is properly classified in heading 9007. See also HQ 964840 (July 23, 2001) (digital color film recorder used to produce 35 mm slides or negatives classified in heading 9006 as photographic (other than cinematographic) camera).

The host computer when imported with the film recorder is also classified in heading 9007 (together with the film recorder) pursuant to note 3 to chapter 90 (i.e., the Arrilaser film recording system is a machine (or combination of machines) consisting of individual components that it is intended to contribute together to a clearly defined function covered by heading 9007, and thus the whole falls to be classified in that heading).

Finally, as the product has been found to be classified in heading 9007, it is not classified in residual heading 9010 or in a residual provision of heading 9013.


The digital cinematographic film recording system is classified in heading 9007 (and specifically in subheading 9007.19.80) of the HTSUS of 1999. The protest should be denied.

In accordance with section 3 A (11) (b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than sixty (60) days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.

Sixty (60) days from the date of this decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to U.S. Customs Service personnel, and to the public on the U.S. Custom Service web site (ww.customs.gov), by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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