TIS - The Territory Information System

The TIS Territory Information System is the multi-language territory standard of CISAC, the international umbrella organisation of collecting societies. The standard is managed by GEMA and supervised by the TIS Management Committee of CISAC.

The Territory Information System contains all relevant information about territories

  • Basic information about territories, i.e. countries and groups of countries, together with their numerical territorial codes. Examples of these numerical codes are 276 for Germany and 2136 for the world.
  • The names of territories, together with their alpha and/or alphanumerical codes. Examples: DE for Germany and 2WL for the world.
  • The hierarchical dependencies between territories, as in "Country A belongs to Country B from / to ". Example: Germany has belonged to the European Union since 1958.
  • The historical dimensions of territories, such as their former and current names, the historical territorial data, the former and current status of hierarchical dimensions. Example: TIS contains information about countries no longer in existence like Czechoslovakia and its successors the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

These data permit an exact, explicit and time-based interpretation of, for example, territorial dimensions of agreements.

The TIS territory standard is based on ISO Standard 3166

The codes and names of countries have been extracted from this authoritative ISO standard.

Description of the territory standard TIS
Report List of territories
Report Upward and downward hierarchies between territories
Amendments of TIS-data from the first until present edition
TIS Database: Full TIS-data
Report List of territories
Report upward and downward hierarchies between territories

The document “Description of the territory standard TIS” contains a full explanation of the CISAC territory standard as well as the conceptual data model with all relevant entity types and attributes.

The document “TIS Database” is a compressed Access file containing the complete TIS data. Two reports have been generated from this Access file: "List of territories" and "Upward and downward hierarchies between territories".

Please note that the file “TIS Database” contains the binding TIS data basis as per data model and definition of the territory standard. The document “Amendments of TIS data” contains the changes that have been made to the TIS data from the first to the most recent edition.

International Standard Work Code (ISWC)

The International Standard Work Code (ISWC) is the international standard work version number of the CISAC collecting societies, which has also been confirmed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). The ISWC is a unique identifier for a work version. It helps to make the documentation exchange and distribution traffic between collecting societies more efficient.


The ISWC is made up as follows:


  • Letter “T”, followed by a nine-digit number and finally a single check digit.
  • E.g. T-345.246.800-1 (the dots and hyphens in this example are only indicated to make reading easier, they are not a component of the ISWC.)

If GEMA registers a new work with GEMA authors ready for distribution, each work version of the work where a GEMA author is a contributor will automatically be given an ISWC. A GEMA work can thus have several ISWCs e.g. for the German original version, its arrangement, the English version etc. It does not matter whether the work has already been published or which collecting society the original publisher is a member of. The ISWC will be reported back with the work confirmation and displayed in GEMA’ online database “Repertoire Search”.


GEMA has been allocating ISWCs for work versions with GEMA authors since 2004. Older work versions with GEM authors have been given ISWCs retroactively.  If a work version has been created by authors of another collecting society, said collecting society is responsible for allocating the ISWC.  If a collecting society of a GEMA sub-publisher registers a work version with an ISWC, GEMA adopts the respective ISWC.

Work confirmations

Explanatory information on the confirmation of works documented as ready for distribution

These confirmations contain, apart from the GEMA work number and the type of work, also information from the work documentation:

  • Work elements: A work element is the creative building block of a work. There are work elements for authors’ roles (e.g. composers or lyricists), work elements for contents and work elements with references to other used works (work version reference elements). Work versions are built from the work elements. In addition to the details on the involved authors (membership or participant as well as IP number), work elements can contain further information, e.g. on genre, duration and instrumentation, if they have been sent by the registering party to the collecting society.
  • Work versions: A work version is the exploitable configuration of a work. It consists of at least one work element. If a GEMA member is a contributing author, the work version is given a GEMA ISWC.
  • Agreements: The distribution key is determined in the agreements. Even an unpublished allocation shall be deemed as an “agreement” for system-related reasons. Agreements also show territories (e.g. +2WL for worldwide), shares per authors’ role and details on the authors’ contractual relations.
  • Other titles/persons: if sub-titles, titles of used public domain works or other titles and other persons which are important to identify a work (e.g. performing artists) are documented.

List of terms of protection (as at 14/01/2015)

GEMA can guarantee neither correctness nor completeness of the list of terms of protection. We expressly point out that information in this list is not sufficient to judge in a specific case whether a work has been protected in the relevant country at a given point in time or still is. Additional factors need to be considered to determine this, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nationality of the author(s) of the work
  • Country of first publication
  • Multilateral treaties such as the revised Berne Convention, the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS),  Universal Copyright Convention
  • Bilateral agreements such as the treaty between the German Reich and the United States of America on the reciprocal protection of copyright (1892)
  • Type of work: The terms of protection listed above only relate to “normal” musical works. For other types of work, there are usually specific rules such as for musical works with lyrics which have been created by several authors for a combined exploitation (cf. our section with further information), for anonymous and pseudonymous works, film works or posthumous works.
  • Some countries have specific regulations for authors which have worked on and contributed to them during the World Wars, or for politically oppressed and now rehabilitated authors.
  • If a country has extended their term of protection, the transitional rules for works already in existence shall apply.

List of terms of protection (only in german)