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 assigned to musical works by ISWC Registration Agencies, which are appointed by the ISWC Registration Authority.

ISWC  Registration Agencies

Two statuses are defined: 

  • Local Agency that usually covers one territory, 
  • Regional Agency, which is an aggregation of more than one Local Agencies and usually covers several territories.

A Collective Management Organization can become an ISWC Agency.

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 the 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musical works (including versions etc.), regardless of whether these works are printed, recorded or  simply remain unpublished. Also works that are not (or not anymore) protected by copyright law will have their own ISWC. ISWCs may be assigned to any musical work, new or existing, without distinction. The assignment 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.