Hi all,

Seeing this thread I checked with the ISNI team and got the following
answer from Janifer Gatenby who asked me to post it on her behalf:

SNI identifies “public identities”.    The scope as stated in the standard

“This International Standard specifies the International Standard name
identif*i*er (ISNI) for the identification of public identities of parties;
that is, the identities used publicly by parties involved throughout the
media content industries in the creation, production, management, and
content distribution chains.”

The relevant definitions are:



natural person or legal person, whether or not incorporated, or a group of


*public identity*

Identity of a *party *(3.1) or a fictional character that is or was
presented to the public



character string by which a *public identity *(3.3) is or was commonly

A party may have multiple public identities and a public identity may have
multiple names (e.g. pseudonyms)

ISNI data is available as linked data.  There are currently 8 million ISNIs
assigned and 16 million links.


[image: <image001.png>]


On 16 June 2014 10:54, Ben Companjen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi Stuart,
> I don't have a copy of the official standard, but from the documents on
> the ISNI website I remember that there are name variations and 'public
> identities' (as the lemma on Wikipedia also uses). I'm not sure where the
> borderline is or who decides when different names are different identities.
> If it were up to me: pseudonyms are definitely different public
> identities, name changes after marriage probably not, name change after
> gender change could mean a different public identity. Different public
> identities get different ISNIs; the ISNI organisation says the ISNI system
> can keep track of connected public identities.
> Discussions about name variations or aliases are not new, of course. I
> remember the discussions about 'aliases' vs 'Artist Name Variations' that
> are/were happening on, e.g. 'is J Dilla an alias or a ANV of
> Jay Dee?' It appears the users on Discogs finally went with aliases, but
> VIAF put the names/identities together: -
> and there is no ISNI (yet).
> It gets more confusing when you look at Washington Irving who had several
> pseudonyms: they are just listed under one ISNI. Maybe because he is dead,
> or because all other databases already know and connected the pseudonyms
> to the birth name? (I just sent a comment asking about the record at
> )
> [Here goes the reference list…]
> Hope this helps :)
> Groeten van Ben
> On 15-06-14 23:11, "Stuart Yeates" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >Could someone with access to the official text of ISO 27729:2012 tell me
> >whether an ISNI is a name identifier or an entity identifier? That is,
> >if someone changes their name (adopts a pseudonym, changes their name by
> >to marriage, transitions gender, etc), should they be assigned a new
> >identifier?
> >
> >If the answer is 'No' why is this called a 'name identifier'?
> >
> >Ideally someone with access to the official text would update the
> >article at
> >
> >With a brief quote referenced to the standard with a page number.
> >
> >[The context of this is ORCID, which is being touted as an entity
> >identifier, while not being clear on whether it's a name or entity
> >identifier.]
> >
> >cheers
> >stuart

Richard Wallis
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