Microsoft Gets Off Its Soapbox

    March 23, 2007

In a surprising announcement, Microsoft has temporarily shut down access to its video sharing site. Still operating in public beta, Soapbox was poised to be Microsoft’s answer to YouTube in the real of user generated and submitted video.

After entering an alliance with News Corp. and NBC, however, Microsoft is perhaps moving Soapbox further down on its list of priorities.

The official word coming out of Redmond is that the site was closed down until the Soapbox team could develop better measures of detecting and purging copyrighted content. Some would have you believe that Microsoft is taking the moral high ground with a move like, but there are other factors to consider here.

CNET’s Greg Sandoval raises an interesting point:

Microsoft stood to be embarrassed by the existence of pirated work on Soapbox. There was a real possibility that the company could have found itself distributing video from News Corp. and NBC Universal, at the same time another one of its units was hosting material stolen from those same companies.

Taking the speculation a bit further, could it be perhaps that Microsoft had to agree to more stringent copyright protections in order to get in on the NBC/News Corp. video deal? Obviously that’s pure conjecture, but the timing of the events seems hardly coincidental.

Nonetheless, it’s definitely a safe move for Microsoft. The last thing the company needs is to get involved in a legal brouhaha similar to the one that Google and YouTube currently find themselves wrapped up in. By aligning themselves with this new online video conglomerate, the company has the opportunity to get a piece of the revenue pie without risking legal backlash from a spurned content provider.

So, I wouldn’t expect to see Soapbox come back anytime soon. And when it does, expect it to be locked down tighter than Fort Knox.