W3C Semantic Web Annotation Systems work.
Doesn't look like much is happening.
By annotations we mean comments, notes, explanations, or other types of external remarks that can be attached to any Web document or a selected part of the document without actually needing to touch the document. When the user gets the document he or she can also load the annotations attached to it from a selected annotation server or several servers and see what his peer group thinks.
Seems to use X Pointer, which Sun has a patent on, though... agrees it will grant royalty-free licenses, under reasonable terms and conditions, and on a non-discriminatory basis, under Sun's essential patent claims to make, use, sell, offer for sale, or import implementations of X Pointer.
I'm not clear on how granular a target you can annotate (e.g. part of a page/message).
Protocol <http://www.annotea.org/Annotea/User/Annotea Protocol-20051226.html>
Code - http://www.w3.org/2001/Annotea/Projects
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