About the ISCC


The media industries are still relying on identifiers that were designed for physical products such as printed books, magazines or CD’s. Traditional content identifiers (like ISBN or ISRC) are often expensive and managed by centralized institutions, and they fall short of the requirements for digital trade.

Distributing, licensing and re/selling digital content on a global scale is often an all too complicated and inefficient process. Identifiers are randomly and ambiguously applied to content files, metadata or license terms are often incoherent and loosely attached to the content, distributed in separate (ONIX) files, or subject to individual legal negotiations – all of this is time-consuming an prone to errors and manual interventions.

Freely accessible standard identifiers, which are specifically designed to manage digital content, are a fundamental prerequisite for efficient transactions in a decentralized and increasingly heterogeneous media environment. The ISCC (International Standard Content Code) is the first open, generic identifier designed for digital media content. It can be used to register content on the blockchain and also in off-chain environments.


The ISCC is an modern algorithmic identifier with unique features that support advanced machine learning applications. It can also be used to de-duplicate or find similar content. It addresses two crucial issues of online transactions:

  • The ISCC is a fingerprint of the actual content, created by standardized hashing algorithms. It allows to identify content unambiguously in a decentralized manner, meaning that any party with access to the content itself can reliably create its ID, even on a local device, offline.
  • With the ISCC being registered on an open and decentralized blockchain ledger, access to title metadata and license information can be provided by the rights owner on-chain – or even off-chain. Thus, by inseparably connecting content, ID, metadata and license information, sales transactions of digital media content can be facilitated in a more simple and seamless way.

The ISCC (International Standard Content Code) is a modern, generic, and free content identifier. It comes with a number of features built-in:

  • Content Identification
  • Decentralized Issuance
  • Designed for Blockchain
  • Content Versioning
  • Related Product Identification
  • Granular Content Management
  • Content Variant Detection
  • Proof of Data Possession

See more information on the features, here: https://iscc.codes/features/

The Team

The ISCC identifier standard has been developed by the Content Blockchain Project, which was initiated by a consortium of publishing, law and IT companies, based in Germany and the Netherlands. In 2016, the project received initial funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative to undertake research and development on the opportunities of blockchain technology for the media industry. All project results and achievements are documented and available as open source code that can be used for any kind of commercial and non-commercial purposes. The project is also open for contributions from interested parties.


The ISCC will be even more useful the more users agree on the suggested standard procedure of hashing the content in order to create the content’s unique ID. To ensure a broad adoption, the project is addressing a formal standardization process and introducing the ISCC to publishers associations, standardization organizations and ISBN agencies, who could use the ISCC as a complementary identifier for digital content alongside to the ISBN.

Links and Further Information

Content Blockchain Project

ISCC specification

A post on the ISCC on Medium: