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Technical Standards

A significant part of the work of Collective Management Organisations (CMOs), which includes RROs, is managing data - data about the works in their repertoire and data about the rightsholders represented.

Matching that data with information about the works that have been copied under the licences managed by CMOs or RROs is critical to efficient fee distribution. Rights and money flows between and amongst CMOs and RROs also depend on data exchange and data matching.  

These data flows are important to the effectiveness and efficiency of RROs. Standard identifiers not only underpin the data flows, but also enable their automation.  For these reasons, unambiguous identification of the work and of the parties involved (authors, visual artists, publishers, CMOs, etc.) is essential to the IFRRO community. 

IFRRO supports its members by engaging in the development of industry standard identifiers to ensure that the needs of collective management organisations such as RROs are taken into account as current standards are developed and new standards are established.  

1.    Standard Identifiers
Typically, an identifier standard will include:
•    a definition of the structure and syntax to enable the unique identification of the object of the standard (referent);
•    the methodology for establishing a Management Agency and registration agencies for issuing the standard identifiers.

All of the standard identifiers that IFRRO engages with, and which are described below are governed by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) an international non-governmental standard setting body made up of representatives from the national standards organisations of its member countries. It develops voluntary, consensus based international standards across a range of industries. The ISO standards in which IFRRO is especially interested relate mainly to the areas of documentation and information management, standards owned and supervised by ISO Technical Committee 46.   

1.1.    Content Standards 
International Standard Book Number (ISBN) – a unique identifier for books. Each edition of a book is allocated a separate ISBN.  ISBN has been the fundamental standard for book identification around the world since the early 1970s, and RROs use the ISBN to uniquely identify the titles that they licence and represent.     

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) - is a unique identifier for serials, such as journals magazines and newspapers.  ISSNs are widely used by RROs to uniquely identify the titles that they licence and represent.    

Digital Object Identifier (DOI) – is a persistent identifier used to identify, among other things, academic journal articles, professional and government content, citations, data sets and research reports. It is both an identifier and a system for resolving identifiers to URLs. DOIs are used by RROs to uniquely identify individual journal articles that they have licensed. 

International Standard Text Identifier (ISTC) – is a global identifier for the unique identification of text-based works across different forms. The same ISTC number is used to identify the same underlying work even when that work is published in different formats and different editions by multiple publishers.   

1.2.    Party Identifiers
International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) – is a unique number to identify contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution so that every published work can be unambiguously attributed to its creator wherever that work is described. From IFRRO’s perspective this includes authors, artists, publishers, collective management organisations and other entities involved in the creative value chain. 

ISNI is primarily intended to be a ‘bridging identifier’ in that it links other party/name identifiers. It is applicable in all kinds of circumstances, depending on the industry and the sector. It was first published in 2012.  IFRRO is a founding member of the ISNI International Agency (ISNI-IA), the organization that manages and supervises the standard on behalf of ISO.

The ISNI International Agency Limited (ISNI – IA) a limited company registered in the UK, is the Registration Authority for the ISNI Standard, charged by ISO with governing, promulgating and maintaining the use of the ISNI worldwide.  

IFRRO is represented on the management Board of ISNI- IA, through its Chair Michael Healy, and Chief Executive Caroline Morgan.

2.    Other Standards
From time to time IFRRO also engages with other standards projects, that may be of importance to our community. We also participate in initiatives that may affect or change the ways that CMOs identify and manage content in the future, and support our members by sharing information and facilitating discussion about those issues amongst our members, in particular as part of the annual IFRRO International Conference.  

2.1     Message standards
Message standards enable the automated exchange of information between different parties (e.g. RROs) for agreed applications. These involve the definition of mandatory and voluntary fields for inclusion in the message and are closely mapped to the business practices, message flows and data structure of the users. 

The ONIX messages for exchanging information on Distribution and Repertoire are an IFRRO initiatives in this area. 

Because it is widely used in the publishing industry, IFRRO has designated ONIX for RROs as a preferred message format for IFRRO members and commissioned it specifically from EDiTEUR. Two messages have been developed: ONIX for Repertoire (ONIX-RP) and ONIX for Distribution (ONIX-DS). These message formats help RROs to simplify and streamline the transfer of distribution and repertoire data between each other and to rightsholders.

ONIX-RP allows the sharing of "repertoire" information between RROs, a repertoire being the definition of a set of resources to which a specific set of rights or permissions relate. In other words, ONIX-RP allows RROs to share with each other the mandates that they hold from rightsholders.

ONIX-DS allows the sharing of "distribution" information between RROs. Distribution is the how revenues are allocated by an RRO. A distribution message therefore typically accompanies a payment, and informs the recipient of the elements that make up the payment.