Why a Collective Management Organization needs ISNI – a case study

By David Grundy, Information Analyst, Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society - 2014-07-18
The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a not-for-profit organization, run by writers, for writers.
Its 70,000 members include novelists, screenwriters, academic authors, and poets. Individually, these writers have no way of tracking the numerous ways that their work is used - and the way that these uses are legally permitted and controlled – in many jurisdictions around the world.
So they come together, and manage their rights collectively. Together, they can benefit from the Public Lending Rights of various European countries (under which a small fee is paid to authors to compensate them for library loans); they can benefit from the licensing of their work for photocopying and digitisation; they can benefit from legislation in many countries that compensates writers when their works are copied or transmitted in ways that are not covered in their original contracts.
The payments that such schemes generate are relatively small, and the volumes of data that they produce are often enormous. Each week, ALCS receives several data files containing details of works, authors, amounts of money, and the licences under which the money was earned. They come from Norway, and from New Zealand, and from numerous countries in between. It is a constant race to match the payments to the members, so that the people who have earned the money are paid it in a timely fashion.
With almost two million transactions per year, divided between 70,000 members, automation is the only way to make it happen. So among other techniques, ALCS attempts to match the names in the data with the names in its database. It isn’t always straightforward:
     Ken Follett; Follett; Follett, K.; Follett, K; Follett K; Follett, Ken; Follett Ken; Kenneth Follett; Kenneth Martin Follett; Follett, Kenneth Martin; Follett Kenneth Martin; Фоллетт, Кен; Кен Фоллетт; פולט, קן; קן פולט; ケンフォレット …
It is a simple idea, but if every Collective Management Organization was to use ISNI in the same way, the industry to which they belong would be more efficient, more accurate, and more co-operative.
ALCS has worked with ISNI for some years and has matched its membership list with ISNI data. So far, about 40,000 ALCS members are identified with ISNIs.

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.

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