The Common Information System utilises a number of international standards to identify all rights holders and the creative works, performances and productions in their respective value chains.

While identifiers are being progressively adopted within member societies, parallel developments have been underway to interconnect the member societies’ databases and to automate the information exchanges between them.

International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC)

The ISWC (International Standard Work Code – ISO 15707:2001) was designed as a system of assigning a globally unique identifier code to musical works for the benefit of the key value chain participants: composers, authors, publishers, broadcasters, tracking services and members of CISAC. 

ISWC enables the standardization of data and promotes the use of standard codes to make the administration of rights, usage identification and distribution of royalties more efficient on a worldwide basis. 

The ISWC identifies musical works by reference to the title of a work and its creators (including composers, authors, and arrangers).   It does not however serve to identify instances of use of the work in manifestations, such as publications, recordings or broadcasts). Other codes exist for such purposes: the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) for sound recordings or any other type of performance associated with the musical work.

Today, 54 Registration Agencies have now incorporated the use of ISWC into its business processes. The ISWC System (a central database of all ISWC works information) population statistics show that there are currently posted 52+ million unique works with an ISWC associated with them.

The ISWC-Network is a public portal made available by CISAC to facilitate the search of works and their allocated ISWCs in accordance with the ISWC standard.   This portal, which is built as an extension to the CIS-Net network, provides access to essential ISWC metadata (note that no commercial information is available).

International Standard Audiovisual Number (ISAN – ISO 15706:2002)

This is a voluntary numbering system for the identification of audiovisual works, providing a globally unique identifier for each audiovisual work.

ISAN identifies works, not manifestations of the work such as publications or broadcasts.  Thus, the assigned identifier remains the same irrespective of the various formats in which the work is distributed (video recording, DVD, etc.) or used. The ISAN identifier is agnostic to different language versions and thus supports the identification of audiovisual works across national boundaries and languages.  When a film crosses borders, its title often changes. The ISAN identifier removes potential uncertainty with regard to different titles for the same film.

The ISAN identifier also facilitates more accurate and faster identification of audiovisual works with the automated processing of broadcast usage reports and the monitoring of Internet usages, thereby avoiding errors in the capture of data on the works.   The ISAN system also plays a key role in tackling problems with piracy and the management of rights by member societies.

International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI)

ISNI is another ISO standard for providing a globally unique identifier to the “public identity” (i.e. the name by which a party is publicly known) of a party; the party can be a natural person (e.g. Luciano Pavarotti), a legal entity (e.g. IBM) or a fictional character (e.g. Huckleberry Finn). Within the ISNI system:

  • Different “public identities” (such as pseudonyms and persona) are assigned different ISNI codes
  • Name and spelling variations, as well as presentation/transcription differences or alternate spellings are accomodated under a single ISNI identifier
  • All of the different ISNI codes related to the same natural person are linked within the ISNI database

ISNI was created as a solution to the problem of disambiguating the names of creators and other parties in the value chains for creative works.  It acts as a “bridge-identifier” between other proprietary codes (such as the IPI). It is based to a great degree on library “authority files”.

It is a voluntary system.  Anyone can obtain an ISNI by applying through a Registration Agency.  Fees may be charged for the registration.