What is an "audiovisual work"?
For the purposes of ISAN, the term "audiovisual work" is not a legal concept but a practical one. The applicable ISO standard defines "audiovisual work" as follows:
Work consisting of a sequence of interconnected images - with or without sound - made visible as an animated image by appropriate means, regardless of the medium originally or subsequently used.
Examples of types of audiovisual works that can be assigned an ISAN (ISAN Project, V-ISAN, S-ISAN) are:
- feature films and short films
- live action films or animated films or a combination of both
- productions for television or other distribution channels, including individual episodes of television series
- industrial, teaching and instructional films
- advertising films
- direct broadcasts and recordings of events (such as sporting events and news)
- Mixed and multimedia works if they contain a significant audiovisual component
No ISAN can be issued for:
- Non-audiovisual components of an audiovisual work such as film music, screenplay or single images, film stills or multimedia works without an audiovisual component.
Use of an ISAN
The ISAN is the unique reference number for an audiovisual work and as such should be included as a data element in all systems that manage and process information on audiovisual works. Collecting societies use the ISAN, for example, when processing information on the exploitation of audiovisual works.
For audiovisual works in digital form, the ISAN should be embedded in the relevant master copies of the work and transferred to all subsequent copies of that master. The MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standards (for the encoded representation of audiovisual and multimedia objects) provide a location for the ISAN identification number in MPEG format.
For audiovisual works in analogue form, the ISAN should be attached in secure form to the master copy and to all other archival copies. For new works, the ISAN can be printed on the negative of the master copy. For existing works, this means securely coupling the work and the ISAN in the form of a permanent record, archive or inventory.
The ISAN is also usually noted in the documentation, on the packaging or in the credits of an audiovisual work.
How does ISAN affect copyright law?
ISAN does not affect copyright in any way. It has nothing to do with copyright - neither according to the European nor the North American understanding of the term. ISAN is an identification number, a marking without legal effect or meaning. It merely serves as a tool for collecting societies to accurately distinguish audiovisual works in their databases or when exchanging information.
Is an ISAN mandatory for a cinematographic work?
Since 2016, an ISAN for film works (from a length of 60 minutes) has been mandatory for certain companies. This is regulated in Art. 16a of the Film Ordinance (FiV, SR 443.11). This obligation only applies to the owners of the exploitation rights of the film work. As a rule, these are producers and distributors.
The ISAN is also required for film festival registrations. This is the case for the Solothurn Film Festival, for example, where the ISAN is only obligatory in the sense of the Film Ordinance if a film is actually selected by the Solothurn Film Festival for screening during the festival.
It is a labour-saving tool developed by the industry for the industry. ISAN's efficiency and precision in identifying audiovisual works makes it a logical business decision - without, however, being mandatory for all filmmakers and regardless of the length of a film.
Who issues the ISAN?
The ISAN system is managed by the ISAN International Agency (ISAN-IA), which coordinates the entire system, is responsible for the technical generation of ISAN and manages a central database of all ISAN registrations. ISAN-IA designates the individual ISAN registration agencies and oversees their work. These agencies have been established to serve specific countries, regions or industry sectors. All ISAN registration agencies operate as non-profit organisations.
Who can create an ISAN?
A new ISAN is usually created by the film producer or her representative. If an ISAN is needed before the producer has resolved it, the distributor or sales agent as well as a rights holder can also file the application. The ISAN created by the distributor or rights holder can later be assigned to the producer.
The entity or person requesting an ISAN should be able to permanently affix or link the ISAN to the work to be identified. Clients must first register with an ISAN registration agency in order to be authorised as users of the ISAN system. In this registration process, it is checked whether the client is active in the film sector. This client registration is unique and free of charge.
What does an ISAN cost?
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Who developed ISAN?
The ISAN system was developed as an international standard under the auspices of "ISO/TC 46/SC 9":
- ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, based in Geneva
- TC 46 is the Technical Committee of ISO for questions of standardisation on information and documentation
- SC 9 is the subcommittee of TC 46 that develops and manages ISO standards for the identification and description of information objects
In May 1997, ISO/TC 46 Subcommittee 9 established a Working Group (WG 1) to develop the ISAN project. The project was under the leadership of:
- AGICOA: Association de Gestion Internationale Collective des Oeuvres Audiovisuelles (Association for the International Collective Management of Audiovisual Works)
- FIAPF: Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films (International Federation of Associations of Film Producers)
- CISAC: Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Auteurs et de Compositeurs (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers)
Representatives from several countries and international associations were members of the ISAN Working Group and actively contributed to the development of the ISAN project.
The ISAN 2D barcode
Once your audiovisual works have received an ISAN, you can download the associated barcode in your customer account. The download package consists of a machine-readable 2D barcode, the ISAN logo and the ISAN.
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