YouTube signs up to ISNI artist/songwriter ID scheme


YouTube has become a registration agency for the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) scheme, which helps identify artists, songwriters and other contributors to creative works.

The Google-owned video streaming giant – which has often been criticised by rights-holders for failing to prevent copyright infringement on its site and for under-paying compared to other platforms – is the first music service to use ISNI. Under the scheme, creators whose works are used on the platform will have a unique identifying number assigned to them, which ISNI says will help to ensure proper credits and align data for digital content.

"James Stewart, you say? Which one, there are at least 14 on YouTube," said FX Nuttall, YouTube’s technical programme manager. “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.”

“We’re delighted to partner with YouTube on such an ambitious effort,” said Tim Devenport, executive director of ISNI International Agency. “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 skill-sets 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.”

The industry already uses ISRC and ISWC codes to identify specific recordings and songs respectively. YouTube’s Content ID system is currently used by rights-holders to identify and manage their content on the service, although the service has been much-criticised by the music industry in the past.

But, speaking in this week’s Music Week, Robert Ashcroft – CEO of pan-European digital licensing body ICE – said YouTube and rights-holders were now taking a more collaborative approach to dealing with issues concerning song identification.

“What you see us doing now is working together to solve the technology problems, data problems and so on on both sides,” Ashcroft said. “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.”

To read the full story on ICE and YouTube, see this week’s print edition of Music Week or click here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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