FAQ

What is ISNI?
What is a public identity?
What is the scope of ISNI?
Can I get access to comprehensive information about a Public Identity?
Is the ISNI an official international standard?
Who uses ISNI?
What does the structure and syntax of an ISNI look like?
What about alternative spellings of a given Public Identity?
Is it possible to allocate multiple ISNIs to the same Party?
Is it possible to have links between multiple Public Identities?
Can I keep my proprietary Party Identification system?
Who is administrating the ISNI system?
Is ISNI free?
How do the Registration Agencies work?
What is required to obtain an ISNI?
Why does my ISNI contain an X – Is it indicating an error?
How are canonical ISNIs determined?
What happens to my input via the yellow box on an ISNI record?
Can I ask for data to be removed or added to my record?
 
 
What is ISNI?
The International Standard Name Identifier is an ISO Standard developed as a global identification system of Public Identities of parties. Parties can be a natural person, a legal entity, or a fictional character.
 
What is a public identity?
A Public Identity is the name by which a Party is publicly known.
 
What is the scope of ISNI?
The International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) is a standard that uniquely identifies Public Identities involved throughout the chain of creation, production, management and distribution of intellectual or artistic contents. It identifies the Public Identities of Parties such as authors, composers, cartographers, performers, academic and scientific authors, researchers, or publishers.
 
Can I get access to comprehensive information about a Public Identity?
ISNI is designed to uniquely identify a Public Identity and therefore only contains the strict minimum amount of information about this Public Identity.
 It is not intended to provide direct access to comprehensive information about a Public Identities, but can provide links to external sources where such information is held. Such an authoritative identifier serves to provide as a link for occurrences of the Public Identity across databases on the web.
 
Is the ISNI an official international standard?
Yes, the ISNI is an ISO (International Standards Organization) Standard referred to as ISO 27729.
 
Who uses ISNI?
It is primarily used by anyone involved in the content/media value chain, digital or physical, such as libraries, publishers, producers of music or films, bibliographic services, Rights Management Organizations, search engines, on-line stores, data aggregators, etc.
 
What does the structure and syntax of an ISNI look like?
An ISNI is made up of 16 digits, the last character being a check character. The check character may be either a decimal digit or the character “X”.
There are therefore one hundred thousand billion possible combinations.
EXAMPLE: ISNI 1422 4586 3573 0476
 
What about alternative spellings of a given Public Identity?
William Shakespear and William Shakespeare are alternative spellings of the same Public Identity and therefore refer to a single Public identity with a unique ISNI. The same applies alternative spellings, alternative presentations, character set variances, transliteration variances and linguistic variances.

EXAMPLES:


  • e. e. cummings and E. E. Cummings or Oxford University Press and OUP are alternative presentations of the same Public Identity.
  • Günter Graß, Guenter Grass and Guenter Graß are character set variances of the same Public Identity.

  • Ciaikovsky, Pjotr Iljc and Пётр Ильич Чайковский are transliteration variances of the same public identity.

  • Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Peter Tchaikovsky are linguistic variances of the same public identity

 
Is it possible to allocate multiple ISNIs to the same Party?
It is. The same Party may have multiple Public Identities, as is the case of pseudonyms that an author may have chosen to use for signing his or her creations. Each Public Identity relating to a given Party shall have separate ISNI.

EXAMPLE: Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine are two distinct Public Identities of one Party. Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine are allocated distinct ISNIs.
 
Is it possible to have links between multiple Public Identities?
If authorized by the Party, two or more ISNIs may be linked indicating a relationship such as a pseudonym.

EXAMPLE:
 The ISNI metadata set for Ruth Rendell includes the following metadata element: "ISNI 1422 4586 3573 0476 is the pseudonym of ISNI 3456 7890 3456 666X", the latter being the ISNI for Barbara Vine.
 
Can I keep my proprietary Party Identification system?
The ISNI has been designed as a “bridge” identifier, as an open layer above proprietary Party identification systems. It allows various industry partners to exchange information relating to a Party without the
need to disclose confidential information. To that extent, the ISNI only maintains the minimum metadata set needed to differentiate (disambiguate) two public identities. All other relevant information remains in proprietary databases secured by conditional access.
 
Who is administrating the ISNI system?
The Registration Authority for this standard is the ISNI International Agency. The ISNI International Agency (ISNI-IA) is a registered not-for-profit organization. The ISNI Registration Authority (RA), appointed by ISO, is in charge of creating and maintaining the ISNI reference database. The initial database is created from the founding members’ existing databases, ranging from all types of repertoires. The Registration Authority enriches and expands the database ,and is the sole owner of the ISNI related metadata. The RA is also responsible for the overall administration and governance of the ISNI Standard. The Registration Authority does not provide direct services to users. It systematically channels potential users through a Registration Agency. How can I get an ISNI? Most Users will access the ISNI
database through Registration 
Agencies. The list of all Registration
 Agencies is posted on the ISNI website.
 
Is ISNI free?
Not quite. Although the RA and the RAGs operate under the not-for-profit model applicable to all ISO Standards, the RA and RAGs charge fees to cover operating costs. As a principle, the RA tries to keep fees as low as possible as to allow the maximum deployment of the Standard. The ISNI Registration Agencies (RAGs) are appointed by the ISNI International Agency. They act as interfaces between the Users and the Registration Authority. Any business entity with a proven interest in the scope of ISNI is eligible to become a RAG. No exclusivity will be granted either on a territorial basis, or on a market segment basis such as the Book Publishing industry or the Music Industry.
 
How do the Registration Agencies work?
The Agencies have unlimited read-only access to the full ISNI database. Then Agencies are the only authorized entities to issue ISNIs. All requests by Users to obtain an ISNI will be channeled through an Agency.
 
What is required to obtain an ISNI?
Public identities are identified by the following metadata elements:

  • Name of the Public identity
  • Date and place of birth and or death (or registration and dissolution for legal 
entities)
  • Class and Roles as defined by the RA. Classes defines the repertoire (such as 
Musical, Audio-Visual, Textual) and Roles can be Author, Performer, 
Publisher, Illustrator, etc.
  • Title of reference to a creation
  • A URI (or URL) providing a link to more detailed information about the Public 
Identity.

 
Why does my ISNI contain an X – Is it indicating an error?
Your ISNI is correct and the X does not indicate an error. The last digit of an ISNI identifier is a check digit that serves to verify that the number is correct (the right length and the numbers are in the correct sequence). The check digit algorithm produces a result that can be from zero (0) to ten (10). Because the check digit must only be one character in length, 10 is presented by X. Check digit algorithms are widely used in computer applications.
 
How are canonical ISNIs determined?
When the original records are merged, the deprecated identifier is written into the merged record so that both ISNIs will resolve to the same record / metadata information. The deprecated ISNI is thus not rendered useless. The rules for which record becomes the canonical ISNI in the case of a merge are, in order:

  • A record with assigned status trumps a record with provisional or other status (the ISNI has already been diffused)
  • A record with assigned status trumps a record with provisional or other status (the ISNI has already been diffused)
  • The record containing a preferred source: either JISC Names (JNAM) or Ringgold (RING) (Preferred sources are recommended by the ISNI Technical Advisory Committee and approved by the Board as being base sources in their area with high quality curated data that has been disambiguated)
  • ISNI record with the most sources (therefore where the ISNI has been more widely diffused)
  • If still no record chosen, the one with the lowest value (first minted)

What happens to my input via the yellow box on an ISNI record?
 
Members of the public are able to make comments on publically displayed ISNI records via the “yellow box” on the left of the data in an ISNI full record display.  Comments can include enrichments, web site links, corrections or requests to remove information from display and may be made by anybody.  It is optional to leave an email address, but if given, a reply will be sent.  A captcha is presented to verify that the input is coming from a human.  The input goes into non displayable fields until it is reviewed by the ISNI Quality Team.   Each evening a batch run generates an alert from all new input received.  The ISNI Quality Team endeavours to act within 3 days on all input and to give an email response where the address is known.    If you have not received action or a  response to your input, please send an email to support-nl@oclc.nl.
 
Can I ask for data to be removed or added to my record?
 
Yes requests to add or delete information are possible via the “yellow box” on the left of the data in a full record display.  Anyone may request to add information to an ISNI record.  The request will be reviewed by the ISNI Quality Team.  If you are the subject of an ISNI record, then you may request that data should be removed from public display, e.g. birth date.    ISNI can also place a field on the record to protect it from further update from its sources.  In the case of erroneous data, ISNI will notify all its sources requesting correction.   ISNI will also notify all its sources, if requested, to ask for the removal of the correct but private data but cannot guarantee subsequent action.

About the ISNI International Agency

ISNI is the globally recognized and adopted standard approved by ISO for the unique identification of the public identities across all fields of creative activity.

Registration Agency

A registration agent provides the interface between ISNI applicants and the ISNI Registration Authority, which is governed by the ISNI board and administered by OCLC.

Search the ISNI Database

Use the lookup tool provided by OCLC to search the ISNI database, to discover which Public Identities have already been assigned ISNIs.