The New Pay-Per-View

I woke up Sunday morning and couldn't stop thinking about how the future of video- and photo-sharing sites could mean cash in your pocket.

It's not exactly a new idea, as sites like Revver and Brightcove have offered a way to monetize your productions for a little while now. But after talking to executives at big players Flickr and YouTube last week I learned how serious they are about following suit. YouTube made its first announcement about it in January at the World Economic Forum, and Flickr's founder Stewart Butterfield, has intimated that his firm could incorporate features of a photo agency to provide users with a way to market their digital works of art.

There are a few ways these now-established sites could share their profits, including embedded ads and pay-to-download or rent. YouTube's founders say they initially wanted the site to grow out of a sense of community and exposure, rather than factoring money into the equation. They feel they're large enough now to sustain both, and I tend to agree. Flickr's Butterfield told me many people on Flickr get requests for their photos, but they're often unsure how to proceed when it comes to getting paid and maintaining rights to the images. Of course it goes the other way, too, as users look for places to sell their work.

But could the almighty dollar infect these open and "free" communities? Will it cause the cream to rise to the top as people seek to only pay for quality? Why would anyone pay for "amateur" videos/photos? Could there be a way to scam the system? I'd love to get your two cents.