ISMN Canada

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International Standard Music Number (ISMN)

The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is a unique numerical identifier for notated music (scores and sheet music) whether published in print, online or in other media. Assigning this unique number provides the title with its own, unduplicated, internationally recognized identifier. Each edition or version of a musical work or separately available constituent part is assigned a separate ISMN. Publishers, booksellers, libraries and others in the music industry use ISMNs to identify publications and determine the publishing country. An ISMN may be required for the sale and distribution of notated music.

Obtaining an ISMN

An ISMN can be requested by contacting the Canadian ISMN Agency via email or regular mail.

For inquiries, please call 1-866-578-7777 (select 1+7+3) or email bac.ismn.lac@canada.ca

ISMNs are free to Canadian publishers and self-publishers and are issued within 10 business days.

“Canadian Publisher” means a person or entity who:

  • makes a publication available in Canada, and
  • publishes from an official office of business that resides within Canada, and
  • indicates that the published material's place of publication, when it is given, is within Canada, and
  • has at least 75% of its employees based in Canada.

Contact us

Canadian ISMN Agency
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON
Canada
K1A 0N4

Telephone: 819-994-6872
Library and Archives Canada: 1-866-578-7777 (select 1+7+3) (Toll free in Canada and the U.S.)
Fax: 819-997-7019
Email: bac.ismn.lac@canada.ca

ISMN: Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is an ISMN?

    An ISMN (International Standard Music Number) is a number that uniquely identifies each specific edition of a music score, sheet music and other notated music.

    This 13-digit number is divided into five parts of variable length; each part is separated by a hyphen.

    The five parts of an ISMN, in order, are:

    • the EAN (European article number) product code: the first three digits of the EAN barcode number;
    • the group identifier: a single digit following the EAN product code that specifies the country or language in which the notated music is published;
    • the publisher prefix: a number that identifies a particular publisher within the preceding group;
    • the title identifier: a number that identifies a particular title or edition of a title issued by the preceding publisher;
    • the check digit: a single digit at the end of the ISMN that validates the accuracy of the number.
  • 2. What items are eligible for ISMNs?

    ISMNs are intended for notated music (scores, sheet music) whether published in print, online or in other media. ISMNs are never assigned to CDs, books about music, stand-alone sound or video recordings.

    Items that require ISMNs

    • scores (including miniature/study and vocal scores)
    • sets of parts (including individual parts available separately)
    • music anthologies and pop folios
    • sheet music
    • song books
    • electronic publications of musical notations

    The following are not to be given ISMNs

    • books or periodicals about music
    • stand-alone sound or video recordings
    • other media (example: CDs) that accompany printed music

  • 3. How can I get an ISMN in Canada?

    Obtaining an ISMN

    An ISMN can be requested by contacting the Canadian ISMN Agency via email or regular mail.

    For inquiries, please call 1-866-578-7777 (select 1+7+3) or email bac.ismn.lac@canada.ca

    ISMNs are free to Canadian publishers and are issued within 10 business days.

  • 4. Is my ISMN valid worldwide?

    Yes. An ISMN is valid internationally. As a publisher, you can use the same ISMN in each country where you wish to sell your publications. In fact, you must only request an ISMN from the country in which you reside. For publishing firms who have various offices worldwide, their ISMNs must be assigned from the country in which the head office or headquarters are located.

  • 5. How can I get a barcode for my publication?

    The Canadian ISMN Agency does not provide barcodes; they are issued by private companies. We advise you to speak with your printer or graphic designer about barcodes, as some of them offer barcoding service. You may also search for local barcode providers online.

  • 6. What is the difference between an ISBN, an ISMN and an ISSN?

    ISBN
    An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. It can be assigned to monographic publications, such as books, e-books, and audiobooks.

    ISMN
    An ISMN is an International Standard Music Number. It can be assigned to notated music (scores and sheet music) whether published in print, online or in other media.

    ISSN
    An ISSN is an International Standard Serial Number. It can be assigned to periodical publications, such as magazines, journals and comic books.

  • 7. Does an ISMN provide copyright protection?

    An ISMN identifies the publisher and the annotated music published by the publisher. You will need an ISMN to sell and/or distribute your publication in libraries and bookstores.

    However, the ISMN does not protect your publication. For questions about rights and protection, please contact the Copyright Office:

    Canadian Intellectual Property Office
    Industry Canada
    Place du Portage, Tower 1
    50 Victoria Street
    Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0C9

    Telephone: 1-866-997-1936
    Fax: 819-953-2476
    Email: ic.contact-contact.ic@canada.ca
    Website: https://www.canada.ca/en/intellectual-property-office.html

  • 8. What is the cost of an ISMN in Canada?

    An ISMN is free in Canada. To obtain one, you must be a Canadian publisher physically and permanently located in Canada with a Canadian head office. Self-publishers must reside in Canada to obtain ISMNs from the Canadian ISMN Agency.

  • 9. Do different formats require separate ISMNs?

    Yes. Every time there is a change in format or a change in edition, a new ISMN must be assigned (e.g., softcover, hardcover, online publication, new edition, revised edition, colour version, black-and-white version). An ISMN identifies one specific publication that belongs to a publisher. Individual parts (available separately or as a set) must be assigned their own unique ISMNs.

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