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ISWC for Collective Management Societies

The ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code), also known as the ISO 15707:2001 Standard, is a unique, permanent and internationally recognized reference number for the identification of musical works.

The International Standard Musical Work Code for musical works specifies a means of uniquely identifying a musical work as an intangible creation. A musical work, in the terms of this standard, is a result of an intangible creation of one or more people (creators); it is composed of a combination of sounds with or without accompanying text.

ISWC numbers are asigned to musical works by assermented ISWC Agencies, registered to the ISWC International Agencies.

ISWC Agency Statuses

Two statuses are defined:
  • Local Agency representing one musical repertoire, usually for a national representation,
  • Regional Agency representing several musical repertoires, typically for the societies using the same language.
A Collective Management Society can become an ISWC Agency, either Local or Regional. If it becomes a Regional Agency, it has to provide the list of the societies for which it will endorse the role of ISWC Agency. A agreement must exist between the ISWC Regional Agency and the societies it represents.

Benefits of ISWC

The ISWC identifies the musical work regardless of its copyright status, and regardless of agreements related to publication or the distribution of royalties in respect to the use of this work. This means that an ISWC will not change when a new agreement is made for the work, when the agreed distribution changes or when the work moves into the public domain.

The ISWC is used to identify musical works (including versions etc.), regardless of whether these works are printed, recorded or not. Also works that are not (or not any more) protected by copyright law will have their own ISWC. ISWCs may be allocated to any musical work, new or existing, without distinction. The allocation of an ISWC to an arrangement or adaptation does not automatically imply that the right owners have authorised this arrangement or adaptation. The ISWC identifies a work, it does not confer copyright or any other status.

ISWC has to be used for documentation exchanges between societies.

Becoming an ISWC Agency

Becoming an ISWC agency requires two steps :

CISAC - International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers