Washington Post on the value of fan-generated content

There’s a piece up in the Post about Fox’s digital division, which is home most notably to MySpace. The article discusses the meager revenues earned by this division relative to the others, but remarks that:

One upside for a corporate parent, Levinsohn said, is that much of this generation’s Web content is user-generated (see: YouTube.com), meaning payments to its creators are not required. For instance, in May, News Corp. bought online karaoke site kSolo.com, which lets users record their own versions of hit songs. The company will apply kSolo’s technology to Fox Interactive sites, allowing users to create free content for News Corp. that the company can use to sell advertising.

On the one hand, I am all for the celebration of fan creativity, and I certainly believe it’s in everyone’s best interest for even megacorporations to cooperate and nurture that creativity. On the other, I don’t like that fans are providing free labor so that Rupert Murdoch and the people who bring us FoxNews can make more money. It’s not like those people are just scraping by.

Where is the line between enabling fans’ talents and exploiting them?

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