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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Point Place resident profits from sharing video of pet project

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Corey Wisniewski with his cat, Wombat. Mr. Wisniewski s video of Wombat using the toilet has had more than
140,000 viewers on the Metacafe Web site, earning the Point Place resident $700. Corey Wisniewski with his cat, Wombat. Mr. Wisniewski s video of Wombat using the toilet has had more than 140,000 viewers on the Metacafe Web site, earning the Point Place resident $700.
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Everybody poops, but Wombat the cat gets paid for it.

His owner, Corey Wisniewski, couldn t be happier.

I just bought my car insurance with the money, the Point Place resident said.

This arrangement is thanks to what could be the next step in sharing video on the Web: making money from it.

Earlier this year, Mr. Wisniewski, 30, took some video of his cat using the toilet to go to the bathroom more about that later and posted it on the popular video-sharing site YouTube.

Before long, he was contacted by a rival site, Metacafe, which offered him a chance to sell a nonexclusive license to the video. In return, Metacafe would pay him $100 for every 20,000 viewers.

So far, more than 140,000 people have watched Wombat tinkle on Metacafe (www.metacafe.com). That s more than $700 worth.

I was hoping that a couple of people might watch it. I thought it was really neat when maybe 100 people saw it, Mr. Wisniewski said. Now to have [so many people] seeing the cat and on top of that being paid for it is just unbelievable.

At a time when mega-video sharing sites are overwhelmed with videos, it can be tough to find the good stuff. That s where Metacafe says it comes in, and why it s willing to shell out some bucks for entertaining things to watch.

We think we re the best place to connect that audience with good quality content, said Allyson Campa, the company s vice president of marketing. We also just feel like [paying] is the way to ensure that quality content. Creators deserve to be compensated.

Anyone can submit something to the site, which is supported by advertising and uses a filter and rating system to post what it considers to be the best of its videos. The site boasts more than 1 million users a day watching more than 400 million videos each month.

To earn money in Metacafe s Producer Rewards program, you must own the rights to the video and it needs to receive a high-enough rating indicating that users like it. After reaching the 20,000-viewer mark, people receive $5 for every 1,000 views.

It s not like the video needs to be a work of genius. It just needs to be popular.

A pixelated, slow-motion clip of a water balloon hitting a guy s head has made its owner $230. A video of a guy bouncing coins into shot glasses from all angles and distances has earned more than $800.

And, of course, there s Mr. Wisniewski s potty-trained cat.

Pets do surprisingly well, said Ms. Campa. There s a lot of animal lovers out there.

Mr. Wisniewski, who works in the nursing field, said he got the idea from a book. It took him about five months to train Wombat. In a house with one bathroom, he slowly inched the cat s litter box next to the toilet, then raised it up and eventually onto the toilet itself.

I certainly have learned I m a patient individual, he said.

Initially, he thought it would be cool to use the money from the video to buy an automatic toilet flusher for the cat, but a company sent him one for free.

Not every video is going to get this kind of attention, but expect more to in the future.

VideoJug, a Web site offering instructional videos submitted by people on topics including how to fold a T-shirt in two seconds and how to kiss someone passionately, doesn t pay for videos, but it recognizes that others do and sees the potential for more to follow suit.

I m sure this will become more commonplace as user-generated content sites grow and more people start uploading their own content, a representative wrote by e-mail.

Google Video doesn t pay for content, but it provides users with opportunities to make money from their videos, according to a company spokesman. It allows people to have ads and charge other users to view their video (with a portion of the proceeds going to Google).

Representatives of YouTube declined to comment for this story.

Mark Shapiro, editor-in-chief of Internet Video Magazine, said streaming video could be the savior of advertising on the Web, with the potential for commercials before, after, or embedded inside videos.

But, he said, it won t work for all of them.

Are you gonna pay to watch someone else s party? Mr. Shapiro asked rhetorically. Unless, of course, Paris Hilton is there.

Ninety-five percent of videos [on YouTube] are total trash, he continued. Is anybody gonna pay for those? I think not.

Contact Ryan E. Smith at: ryansmith@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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