Fire up that webcam and spill your guts. Keep the camcorder rolling as a harmless prank goes deliciously wrong. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube is no Bob Saget, Tom Bergeron, or even Daisy Fuentes, but it's ready to hand over the moola if you've got America's funniest home video clips.

The world's most popular video-sharing website -- and fourth most popular overall, according to -- is finally opening up the revenue-sharing floodgates.

After revealing its plan to share the wealth back in January, and then inviting select high-volume producers to its program in May, the site wants more webcam hobbyists and amateur filmmakers to opt-in and display small ads during their clips. The video creators will get a slice of the generated ad receipts.

Not everyone can get in. The velvet rope is a little lower, but it's still there. If you're the one stocking your uploads with South Park episodes, My Chemical Romance music videos, or regurgitating the same viral clips that have been posted before, you're out of luck.

The YouTube Partner Program has four stipulations for interested applicants:

  • Your videos must be original and suitable for streaming.
  • You own the copyrights for all of the audio and video.
  • You're a resident of the United States or Canada.
  • You regularly upload clips that are viewed by thousands.

Some of those hurdles aren't too easy to clear. Few YouTube members can claim "thousands" of regular viewers. Even some of the original May partners lean on third-party background music as an occasional crutch.

One small step for Google-kind
Is YouTube a pioneer here? No way. Smaller sites like Revver and have been sharing the wealth for a while now. Even CNET (NASDAQ:CNET) set out to bankroll promising producers last year with its Project Spotlight initiative.

However, Google wasn't the first search engine, or even the first paid-search specialist. It just gradually won the masses over, and it doesn't even need a shoehorn this time. YouTube's already the top dog in video streaming. Opening the gate a little wider -- as it surely will in the future -- will probably make it the leader in clip culture revenue-sharing overnight. Even if non-payers like MySpace, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) Video, and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Soapbox come around, it will be too late.

So what? You're missing the point. It's not about the money. That's chump change. Video watchers are fickle compared to visitors to Google's search engine. Folks turn to Google to go somewhere else, while video-watching junkies are highly unlikely to click on an ad that will shoo them away from their beloved YouTube.

This leaves impression-based marketing as the more attractive route, but that's a historically poor way to monetize a site with heavy bandwidth costs. Running a video-sharing site isn't cheap. There's a reason why content delivery networks like Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) and Limelight (NASDAQ:LLNW) are cashing in on the Web's need for dependable delivery of chunky video, music, and software files.

In short, aspiring YouTube partners may ultimately become disillusioned with the pocket change they're amassing on their clips. Quite frankly, there's more money to be made -- and a still-lower velvet rope -- if video creators simply embed their uploads into blogs that also feature contextual market ads from Google's AdSense or Yahoo!'s YPN programs. Even Blinkx (OTC BB: BLNKF.PK) has rolled out a way to generate ad revenue from third-party clips.

A mindshare is a terrible thing to waste
So maybe we're not about to get rich off of YouTube. But it's likely to spur content creators to rally around YouTube, the same way non-Google publishers rallied around its AdSense program to populate their pages with targeted text ads.

This would normally twist open the faucet to crummy content -- with naive partners hoping to make in quantity what they lack in quality -- but YouTube's unchecked ways already have it padded with pointless low-resolution cell phone recordings and inside-joke heavy clips.

So YouTube itself won't change -- but the amount of content, and the audience-multiplying wonders of active partners drawing more traffic, will. In other words, if you think YouTube is pretty darn ubiquitous now, you haven't seen anything yet.

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