Tay Zonday, the young man behind the Chocolate Rain song and megameme, is among 100 YouTube power users selected to be added to the YouTube Partners program - the site's ad revenue sharing plan for high quality, original content. YouTube announced today that the program, originally limited to less than 40 content producers, is now open to any US and Canadian applicants interested and deemed to be of sufficient quality. The company says it will expand internationally as soon as possible.

"In evaluating applications," the official blog post explained, "we will focus on the users who have built a significant audience on YouTube (as measured by video views, subscribers, etc.) and who consistently comply with the YouTube Terms of Use."

One of Zonday's newest videos, Cherry Chocolate Rain, has been viewed nearly a million and a half times so far. Presumably the deep voiced 25 year old with a sense of humor made good money on that video directly, as well.

Along with integration into AdSense, the Partners program could put to rest concerns about the site's ability to monetize. It's also great news for the selected participants - the critique levied against YouTube, that its founders got rich off the work of unpaid users, may have just got a bit of the sting taken out of it. International critiques concerning YouTube's relationship with authoritarian governments and human rights, however, remain quite stinging still.