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Giving the little guy a piece of the Web media action

Forward-looking media companies are trying to incorporate user-generated content into the Web media strategies, according to panelists at the MIT Brave New Web conference.

BOSTON--So-called user generated content is being built into the business models of forward-looking media companies as they venture out onto the Web, according to experts who spoke today at the MIT Enterprise Forum's Brave New Web conference on Wednesday. (See this CNET story.)

Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of online video company Brightcove, said that Web is a tiny fraction of the overall media industry but that's changing because media companies are starting to distribute video over the Web. Brightcove itself is building social media features to its video distribution system which will allow people to post content or chat online.

During a panel after Allaire's talk, experts in Web media said that media firms are trying new advertising models to make money online--and that includes embracing user-generated content.

"We see user-generated content as a farm league," said Laurie Baird, director of technology partnerships for Turner Broadcasting System. "Good content will come to the top and those who have an economic mind (will find ways to make money)."

JibJab, for example, made very funny satirical videos for the Web around the last presidential election that were very popular. Now it's doing that same work but getting paid for it, she said.

Of course, there is this little problem of copyright infringement in Web media. What is called user-generated content is often redistributed TV clips and the like.

So how are online media companies going to make money in this environment where the consumer is participant as well?

Ads, said Alex Laats, the CEO of Podzinger, which makes a search engine for audio and video content. The trick is aggregating several niche communities to create a volume that becomes interesting to advertisers, he said.

"Once ads can deliver campaigns against user-generated content, then the copyright issues go away," Laats said. "Copyright issue will be solved by business models as opposed to pulling the content down."