The ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number) is a voluntary numbering system for the identification of audiovisual works. It provides a unique, internationally recognized and permanent reference number for each audiovisual work registered in the ISAN system.
An ISAN uniquely distinguishes one audiovisual work from all other audiovisual works. Other methods of identifying audiovisual works, such as by title, can result in confusion about the specific work being referenced. For example, one title can be very similar to another. Titles also change when a work is distributed beyond its country (or countries) of origin and the title is translated into other languages.
Because each ISAN is a unique number that is permanently assigned to an audiovisual work, it can identify that work across national boundaries and language barriers.
As a unique identifier, the ISAN is useful in a wide range of computerized applications, particularly those which involve databases or the exchange of information about audiovisual works. Some of its possible applications are:
- audiovisual cataloguing;
- to assist collecting societies in the management of rights;
- to reduce unauthorized use of protected content.