In February, MSN Soapbox flipped the switch from private beta to public beta, giving everyone the opportunity to try it out and become loyal users.  It was introduced last September as Microsoft’s version of video sharing, however complaints followed that it was missing important elements that other services offer.

Just as the word started to spread around to the general public to give it a try, Microsoft has recently decided to pull the plug to new user registration, and essentially switch back to a private beta for the next one or two months.

During this time, Microsoft plans to implement Audible Magic technology which we’ve mentioned before because both MySpace and YouTube have decided to use it to help keep their sites free of copyrighted material.  Perhaps after seeing the struggles that YouTube is going through, Microsoft decided they wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t have to deal with those same issues?

While new registration will be unavailable, if you already have an account you’ll still have access to the site.  I find it interesting that they hype their new product, get through the private beta testing, launch it in hopes of attracting lots of people, but then quickly revert to a private beta again. People will just go elsewhere to get videos, and when Soapbox returns, I don’t think people will come flocking like Microsoft probably hopes and expects.

Adam Sohn, director of Microsoft’s online-services group says, “This software company is aligned very closely with the notion of intellectual-property rights. We feel this is the right time to make these changes and stand up to do the right thing.”

As ZDNet points out, with the recent agreement that News Corp and NBC Universal made with Microsoft to distribute content as part of their effort to take on YouTube, they could have been in an embarrassing position if Soapbox had copyrighted material from those Media Networks being distributed illegally.