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ISMWC (International Standard Musical Works Code)

What is the ISMWC?

Also known as the International Standard Work Code (ISWC)

The ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code) is a unique, permanent and internationally
recognized reference number for the identification of musical works.

The ISWC is part of the CIS plan (Common Information System) which CISAC, the confederation of societies
of authors, has developed in order to respond to the needs for information in the digital age.

The ISWC will uniquely and accurately identify each specific musical work. The current identification methods
of Musical works, such as by work title, may at times result in confusion specially when multiple musical works
share the same or similar titles. Since ISWC remains permanently with a musical work, it will identify that musical
work even after the work is distributed across national boundaries and languages barriers. The ISWC will support
a wide range of computerized applications, particularly those involving tracking and exchange of musical works
information. (e.g. Registration, Identification, Royalty Distribution, etc.).

An ISWC begins with the letter "T", followed by a nine-digit unique number (from 00000001 to 999999999),
and an additional check digit at the end. (Written Format: T-345246800-1).

Notes on use

The ISWC identifies musical works, not their manifestations, objects, or expressions. (e.g. publications, broadcasts,
etc.) The ISWC will not identify recordings, sheet music or any other type of performance associated with the
musical work. Furthermore, the ISWC will not indicate the shares of composers or copyright owners of the work (there are often too many of them and they change with time and according to the territory and rights), nor the date or the
place where the work was initially published.

The descriptive metadata for an ISWC includes: the title of the work, all composers, authors and arrangers
of the work identified by their CAE/IPI numbers and role codes, the work classification code
(from the CIS standards list) in the case of 'versions', for example arrangements, identification of the
work from which the version was made. Without this minimum information, an ISWC cannot be allocated.

ISWC Agencies

The International ISWC Agency, which is appointed by ISO, is responsible for the overall ISWC system maintenance and administration. The International ISWC Agency will appoint and oversee the work of Regional and/or Local ISWC numbering agencies. These agencies will be authorized to receive and process applications for ISWC and allocate the actual ISWC numbers to the musical works.

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Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 06-May-2008
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