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Abbreviation for International Standard Recording Code. The international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording that can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint. Encoded ISRCs are employed to provide a means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.

ISRCs are used to identify CDs, DVD-Audio and DVD-Video, Super Audio CDs, MiniDiscs, and even VHS music videos and analog tapes. They are also encoded into MP3s and other digital formats distributed online. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is the ISO-appointed international registration authority for ISRC.

The ISRC format consists of four codes:

  • Country Code: The registrant’s (sound recording copyright owner) country (two characters).
  • Registrant Code: The code of the registrant that allocated the ISRC (three characters).
  • Year Of Reference Code: The year in which the ISRC is allocated to the recording (two characters).
  • Designation Code: The code assigned to the track by the registrant. This code may not be repeated within the same calendar year (five characters).

So, an ISRC code of US-Z03-99-32476 tells us that a recording was created in the United States by an individual or company who registered as “Z03” in 1999, and has been cataloged by the owner as number 32476.

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