foaf:tipjar, Creative Commons and MusicBrainz

Vocabulary — danbri @ 8:07 pm

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.).

Feedback welcomed…

(update: Mar 18 2004 – foaf:tipjar has been added to the spec.)


  1. CC does have a RDF representation of an agent (little used and under-defined), see
    I’m looking to replace this with foaf:Agent, see for the beginning of a brief thread on this.
    Regarding tipjar , the CC license chooser could easily ask for a tipjar URL and provide the appropriate RDF and HTML in the case a tipjar URL is provided.

    Comment by Mike Linksvayer — 2004-02-12 @ 11:32 pm
  2. Coolio – can we have it start a song: “Brother, can you spare a dime?” Maybe a driving techno version?

    Comment by Marc Canter — 2004-02-13 @ 12:50 am
  3. RDF Music

    foaf:tipjar has been proposed, and I think it could work nicely with some new ontologies and media player support.

    Comment by Life on Mars — 2004-02-13 @ 5:40 am
  4. Great idea. Strap on the accordion!

    Comment by Danny — 2004-02-13 @ 3:47 pm
  5. I just bought Apple’s GarageBand app. Unless my tipjar starts filling fast, I’ll flood the ‘net with bad FOAF jingles… ;)

    Comment by Dan Brickley — 2004-02-13 @ 4:16 pm
  6. I am actually posting FOAF with MusicBrainz data integrated at – My FOAF for example is at
    The application I’m using it for is to provide music recommendations based on social networks. Since I’m publishing all data as FOAF/RDF under a CC license, it should be trivial for someone to build tools to play these playlists in $MEDIA_PLAYER, which is the application I see for them.
    (Also, someone should go through and clean up the comment spam, for example)

    Comment by George Hotelling — 2004-02-25 @ 4:37 am
  7. foaf:tipjar

    Dan Brickley, the creator of FOAF has written up a quick blog entry proposing to add foaf:tipjar to the FAOF specification. I’m a big fan of this proposal — when I revamped my site and created this blog I setup my contribution box. But, I think the t…

    Comment by Mayhem & Chaos Blog — 2004-02-25 @ 7:58 pm
  8. FOAF:TipJar

    foaf:tipjar, Creative Commons and MusicBrainz .

    Comment by Marc's Voice — 2004-04-04 @ 11:05 am
  9. So how would I link in my Amazon Wishlist or my Paypal account? According to the FOAF Spec it’s undergoing “testing”.
    Or here’s a challenge. My first son is about to join the world….how would I include his Baby Registry in FOAF? Would I create his FOAF and link it via the bio ns ( using event > birth? Or would I create him as a representation of the relationship ns ( via childOf and put the registry under SeeAlso?
    Hmmmmm. ;)

    Comment by B.K. DeLong — 2004-04-06 @ 2:27 am
  10. Here’s an interesting proposed use of tipjar:
    “If the proposed foaf:tipjar becomes a reality, I want to have artists’ foaf information embedded in ID3 tags, so that iTunes could give me a ‘Donate to this Artist’ button.
    Perhaps this is where MusicBrainz + FOAF comes in?

    Comment by B.K. DeLong — 2004-04-06 @ 2:51 am

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