When will Socrates be picking up his photocopying royalties?
By ISNI Board member Paul Jessop - 2015-03-17
Well since (a) the Athenian republic was not strong on copyright, (b) Socrates probably had slaves to do his copying by hand rather than a machine from Xerox, (c) scholars do not know what, if anything, Socrates actually wrote, (d) anything he did write is long out of copyright and (e) Socrates is a long time dead, this burning question may not detain us long.
But Socrates nevertheless has an ISNI. Search for him on the ISNI web page (http://www.isni.org/search) and you find (amongst others):
ISNI 0000 0001 2142 6535
It is not just royalty management that benefits from ISNI (though it can be a powerful tool for that). Identifying creators by their unique ISNI code avoids ambiguity and ensures that collections created by someone or referencing a particular identity can be clustered together.
So Socrates the Greek Philosopher will not be confused with Socrates of Constantinople (sometimes called Socrates Scholasticus) who documented the history of the early Christian church. He has a different ISNI (0000 0001 1647 1702).
And Socrates the Brazilian footballer (known as Doctor Socrates because he qualified as a doctor while playing professionally) has an ISNI as well (0000 0000 3650 5888) though he tragically died before his novel based on the 2014 World Cup was finished.
Interestingly in preparing this note, I discovered that each of the historical creators had two ISNIs with slightly different names which had not triggered a match when the ISNI database was created from (in this case) global library records. I used the button on the ISNI website to notify this to the ISNI quality team and the records were merged with a single code being chosen for each (though the old code can still be looked up).