Scott Kirsner, the author of the Cinematech blog, has an article in the N.Y. Times about people who have been earning money from the videos they upload to various websites. This link will take you to a Cinematech entry that links to Kirsner's chart of video sites that pay for content and his book The Future of Web Video.
There's been discussion on other sites about an animation studio running a contest where they invite content submissions and keep the rights to all entries. Anyone producing content right now is foolish not to place it with one of these video sites. You maintain full ownership of your work. You have the potential to see some cash from it. Best of all, if your work proves popular with an audience, you may attract industry interest and you are negotiating from a position of strength.
The big players in film and TV are not looking for creative properties, they're looking for an audience. They're stuck having to guess what creative properties will attract that audience. If you can attract your own audience, you've beaten the system.