I’ve been talking with Mike Linksvayer of Creative Commons and Robert Kaye of MusicBrainz about the idea of a foaf:tipjar property that relates an ‘agent’ to a ‘document’ which serves as some form of ‘tip jar’ page, so that artists, content creators etc could use RDF to make statements that help them get rewarded for works they make available online. This initially wouldn’t be very machine-readable, just a normal human-oriented Web page perhaps pointing to PayPal or Amazon wishlist pages. We can start simple and get fancy later.
The details need further discussion, but I like this idea a lot. It brings together concerns from the FOAF, CreativeCommons and MusicBrainz communities, and — from a technical perspective — allows us to explore the use of RDF to combine information expressed using the FOAF, Creative Commons and MusicBrainz datasets. One way to implement this would be to have a common notion of ‘agent’ shared across the three datasets/vocabularies. Leigh Dodds has been working on the RDF schema for MusicBrainz; we could define MM:Artist as a sub-class of foaf:Agent, so that FOAF tools would have some partial understanding of the MusicBrainz dataset. Mike also mentioned some discussions within CC of having an RDF representation of the notion of an agent.
How might this work in practice? One idea was for tools which generate CreativeCommons markup describing online content to have an option to include a declaration of the creating agent’s FOAF description, including a link to a foaf:tipjar page. From a MusicBrainz perspective we could try to associate tipjar information with as many artists as possible, ideally alongside their homepage URLs and other handy metadata (photos, weblogs, …). This would hopefully assist users of content in finding their way to a page that explains how to reward the content-creator (with online payments, Amazon gifts, etc.).
(update: Mar 18 2004 – foaf:tipjar has been added to the spec.)