Last month, there was some pointless wondering whether or not YouTube was somehow exploiting its users like sharecroppers by using their content for free, which they were then able to turn into $1.65 billion in funny money from Google. Of course, this whole "exploitation" argument didn't make much sense. After all, the reason YouTube was so successful wasn't that it was exploiting people, but that it gave video uploaders what they wanted. In other words, while they might not have received monetary compensation for their videos, they got (1) free hosting (video hosting can be expensive!) (2) a system that makes it easier for others to see their videos and (3) a big audience. It seems like a fair trade (if anything, YouTube may have ended up with the short-end of the stick on bandwidth costs). After all, if users were really feeling exploited, there were a ton of other video sharing sites out there, including Revver, who claimed it would give money to popular videos. Instead, though, Revver is apparently hovering around the deadpool while YouTube keeps growing. However, an even more important point is that, should there ever really be demand for monetary compensation, it wouldn't be that difficult for YouTube to add it. In fact, many are buzzing over comments late last week suggesting that YouTube was planning just such a system. It's not clear why this is exciting. It seems like a pretty obvious offering for YouTube to play around with (especially considering all the ridiculous "sharecropping" talk), but until the details are known, it's nothing more than idle talk from a company that's probably just helping to speed up the death of a few of its competitors.
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