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One loophole, would be to join a vanity press I suppose, and that's a way to be handed over a ISBN...

Canadians, get one free ISBN per year, but I'm American, and there is not currently, a program or perk, like that for us, but yeah lol.
That's not a loophole at all because the author wouldn't own that ISBN; the entity that obtained it from the single authorized ISBN agency for that country would, as I've already said. Bottom line: the ONLY way to own an ISBN is to buy it yourself from the single authorized ISBN agency for your country.

And, as noted, Canadians aren't limited to one ISBN per year.
 

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I still can't get over the fact that Americans are obliged to BUY their ISBN numbers... in many (if not all, I'm not sure) European countries they're completely free for their residents...
 

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Through Bowkers rules and regulations perhaps. But there are ways to purchase an ISBN, and hand/transfer that ISBN over to someone else; and as long as the ISBN hasn't been registered yet, which through Bowker, and how it's setup, absolutely not, you can't do that, but there are other ISBN avenues and networks. Unless I'm insane or confused, I have heard of people back in the day, "gifting" ISBN numbers to authors, which for financial reasons, they can't afford to order an ISBN (Which I'm not gonna sit here and say ISBN's are cheap, they aren't. The more you buy/in bulk, it's a better discount/bargain/investment, but yeah. Which is why I think many indie authors pass on ISBN's, due to the cost, but yeah. I know some vanity presses/agents, for convenience, on being a client of theirs, cover ISBN costs to authors on their roster. Maybe times have changed, and this isn't feasible anymore, and I dunno. But yeah.
That’s incorrect. All ISBNs in the US are supplied by Bowker originally. Other places that sell them are just resellers who bought them in bulk from Bowker first. So if someone gets an ISBN from a site that isn’t Bowker — like Amazon or a reseller — that ISBN will be in that site’s name. Either way, it is assigned and can’t be transferred.
 
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