How To Easily Identify All Digital Content Contributors? The Answer Is ISNI
ISNI International Agency Established in London
The International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI - Draft ISO 27729) is an ISO certified global standard capable of easily identifying the millions of contributors to creative works, including writers, artists, creators, performers, researchers, producers, publishers and more. The ISNI International Agency, which will be responsible for ISNI's administration and governance, was officially incorporated by its six founding members - CISAC, IFRRO, IPDA, ProQuest, OCLC and the Conference of European National Librarians (represented by Bibliothèque nationale de France and the British Library) - as a London-based not-for-profit organisation on December 22nd, 2010. The consortium members represent more than 300 rights management societies and 26,000 libraries worldwide. While the Agency creates the ISNI reference database - assigning ISNI identifiers to over 5 million names - and begins building a network of ISNI Registration Agencies, media and content companies are preparing to integrate ISNI into their operations.
"As digital formats come to dominate the entertainment landscape, a global standard that can identify all contributors to all cultural goods - whether they be artists, creators, producers, publishers - is key to an efficient legal marketplace," said François-Xavier Nuttall, Corporate Director of the ISNI International Agency and Senior Technology Consultant for founding member CISAC.
Responding to this need, ISNI was developed under the auspices of the International Standard Organisation (ISO). The Agency's six founding members - CISAC, IFRRO, IPDA, ProQuest, OCLC and the Conference of European National Librarians (represented by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the British Library) - reflect the groups that will benefit most from the standard's integration by media companies, including creators, traditional and digital book/serial publishers, performers, libraries and other research/cataloguing specialists.
ISNI: Identifying Rights Holders Across the Digital World
ISNI will make data exchange between all players in the value chain quicker, more accurate and cheaper. This in turn facilitates licensing of online services and legal access by the public to the content they want.
ISNI is an integral part of an interoperable "smart" metadata system that includes international identifiers of works, products and right holders in all repertoires (e.g. ISWC for musical works, ISTC for texts, ISAN for audiovisual, IPI for creators, ISSN for serials, IPN for performers, etc.); standardised data exchange formats (e.g. DDEX standards); and database networks (e.g. CIS-Net powered by FastTrack, the network of musical works databases established by musical society members of CISAC). ISNI can be assigned to all parties that create, produce, manage, distribute or feature in creative content including human beings, legal entities (such as a company) or fictional characters. In the ISNI database, the party is identified by its "public identity", the name by which it is publicly known.
ISNI was designed as a bridge between existing proprietary right holder identification systems, such as IPI (the Interested Party Information system used by all CISAC members to identify rights holders), and resource discovery tools, such as VIAF (the Virtual International Authority File used by libraries to identify and disambiguate names across the catalogues of 18 major libraries). ISNI metadata will link the public identity to all of its other manifestations in different systems, making it possible for industry partners to exchange party information without disclosing confidential information. It also provides a single identifying code for a party involved in multiple creative genres (music, cinema, visual arts, literature, etc.).
According to Andrew Mac Ewan of the British Library, "ISNI will enable and enhance the discovery and identification of all content associated with an author within and across multiple databases and domains."
Nuttall adds that "ISNI will serve two key purposes: allowing reliable royalty management services across all repertoires and throughout the value chain and more efficient discovery services spanning all media sectors."
Getting ISNI Off the Ground
In order for ISNI to reach its potential, widespread use by the business, research and technology sectors is key. The ISNI International Agency will prepare the standard for industry adoption by first creating the initial ISNI database, which will allocate ISNI numbers to more than 5 million contributors. The database is scheduled for release to ISNI business partners by mid-2011.
Nuttall notes that many media and content companies are already showing interest in ISNI. "We already have a nice list of companies or organisations that are getting ISNI-Ready, which means that they are capable of accepting, storing and retrieving ISNI numbers for all their parties," he said. "Our goal is to help all media companies become ISNI-ready."
Founding members talk about what ISNI means to their businesses
"The need for such an identifier has been stressed for many decades in the library community. Considering the increasing importance of the Semantic Web this identifier has become a real necessity. Europeana, The European Library and other information networking projects are addressing interoperability issues, of which ISNI is a key component. ISNI is likely to contribute to the evolution of library catalogues and to the diversification of library data use and reuse." - Anila Angjeli, Département de l'Information bibliographique et numérique,Bibliothèque nationale de France
"ISNI crosses domains to unite various users across the creative media industries. Not only will it provide the basis for a simple, distributed identifier among the IFRRO membership but it will also facilitate rights clearance in the library sector and is foreseen as a key element of the ARROW project." - Olav Stokkmo, CEO, IFRRO (International Federation of Reprographic Rights Organisations)
"For over a decade, performers' organisations have been looking for a simple, universal way to identify recordings made by their members, the performers. The arrival of the Internet has made this task even more urgent. For this reason, we are very excited to contribute to the development of ISNI, which will make this possible." - José Luis Sevillano, Chairman, IPDA (International Performer Database Association)
"ISNI will help link data within and across databases, thus providing the infrastructure for significantly improved name searching and linking. Moreover, by sharing their data resources, ISNI participants from libraries, rights management and trade organisations are co-operating to achieve high quality data and at the same time realise processing efficiencies. This unprecedented cross-sector alliance is very exciting." - Janifer Gatenby, Research Integration and Standards, OCLC (Online Computer Library Center)
"This global effort through ISO allows for the identification of contributors in all forms of content that are critical to researchers including: video, recordings, novels, dissertations, journal articles, monographs, datasets, and working papers. Not only will this help the researcher, but will offer clear benefit to stakeholders in the research community, including libraries, publishers, granting agencies and universities. I'm very excited about the ways ISNI can be leveraged to support scholarship." - Tim Babbitt, Senior Vice President, ProQuest
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