Resolving duplicate ISWCs with CWR 3.0

ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code) is a unique, permanent and internationally recognized ISO reference number for the identification of musical works.

Well, this is what it is supposed to be. But, it has often been neither unique nor, as a consequence, permanent. Many works have received multiple ISWCs. I will not go into the reasons why this has been happening in this article but instead talk about the feature now available in CWR 3.0 that supports the resolution of such cases.

Cross-reference records (XRF) can also be used to send ISWCs and mark them as valid or invalid. So, let’s say that a publisher sends a registration for a work that contains ISWC. But that particular ISWC was marked as a duplicate and no longer valid by the authority.

In the acknowledgment, the society can send the correct ISWC in the WRK record. It is important to know that ACK transactions should return the data that the society has on the file, not the original registration, as most societies did in the past. Also, as ISWC was changed, not merely added, the transaction status should be one containing “accepted with changes”. But now, what they can do is add an XRF record and state that ISWC the publisher submitted is not valid.

Actually, there is nothing new here, but now the functionality is quite obvious. This would work with CWR 2.1 as well: if ISWC was changed in the acknowledgement, in comparison with the registration, and the status was “accepted with changes”, it implied that the submitted ISWC is no longer valid. Still, XRF makes this completely explicit, a much better option.

Please note that if a completely wrong ISWC is sent, then the registration must be rejected, ISWC can not be merely replaced with a correct one.