internet data programming

YouTube adopts content ID standard for artists and songwriters

YouTube has become a registration agency for the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), helping it identify the owners of music uploaded to its platform.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 23 Jan 2018
  • min read
YouTube has become a registration agency for the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), helping it identify the owners of music uploaded to its platform.

The International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) certified global standard number will assist the company to identify millions of contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution.

YouTube will request an ISNI to be assigned to all creators whose works are used on the platform – including performers and songwriters – helping to reconcile data and ensure attribution. It will share the ISNIs with labels and publishers to help promote the adoption of this standard by the wider industry.

FX Nuttall, technical programme manager at YouTube, said in a statement: ‘By adopting ISNI, artists, songwriters and other creators will be unambiguously identified, enabling better visibility and tracking on YouTube.

‘Bringing the ISNI open standard to music opens the door to more accurate credit for creators, discovery for fans, and transparency for the industry.’

The ISNI system assigns a unique number to the public names writers, artists, performers, labels and publishers, attempting to resolve the problem of name ambiguity in search and discovery.

The ISNI International Agency has said the system is becoming a critical component in ‘linked data and semantic web applications’, and is already used by libraries and archives to share catalogue information.

Tim Devenport, executive director of ISNI International Agency, said: ‘Many organisations active in the music sector have already shown interest in using ISNI identifiers as part of the infrastructure they need to manage rights and royalties effectively.

‘Working closely with YouTube, ISNI is very pleased to contribute its experience and skillsets to these critical objectives. We view this as a transformative opportunity to offer the music industry a valuable identifier scheme and in so doing, to deepen ISNI’s knowledge of this domain and improve its technical facilities and approaches.’

Currently, the music industry employs the International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC) and International Standard Work Codes (ISWC) to ‘watermark’ songs. This enables the creators and owners of these musical works to be identified and remunerated when their music is used around the world. Until now, the industry has not shown overwhelming support for the ISNI system.

However, Robert Ashcroft, PRS for Music's chief executive, told Music Week that YouTube and rightsholders are now working together to deal with issues concerning song identification.

He said: 'What you see us doing now is working together to solve the technology problems, data problems and so on on both sides. We’ve got stuff to do on the [song] identifiers side, they’ve got stuff to do on transparency and technology. To say that we’re working together might be a little enthusiastic but we’re definitely circling the problem and [approaching] it together.'

A recent PRS Explores: Big Data event explored the issues around song identification and creators' royalties. Read our coverage here:
Songwriters: ‘good music data is your income ticket’
Poor music data is ‘urgent, industry wide problem’, says expert