MSN Soapbox closed to new users amid piracy concerns

ZDNet News is reporting that MSN Soapbox is being closed to new users for up to 2 months as Microsoft sorts out piracy issues.  ZDNet quotes Adam Sohn, a director in Microsoft’s online-services group, as saying that no new subscribers will be accepted, but anyone who has already signed up for Soapbox can continue to access the site. According to the story:

Sohn said the changes were not forced on Microsoft by its new partners, although he acknowledged that some of the content providers were very interested in how his company planned to clean up Soapbox.

“This software company is aligned very closely with the notion of intellectual-property rights,” Sohn said. “We feel this is the right time to make these changes and stand up to do the right thing.”

The news comes on the heels of an announcement between NBC Universal, News Corp., and AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo! to create “the largest Internet video distribution network ever assembled with the most sought-after content from television and film. …The video-rich site will debut this summer with thousands of hours of full-length programming, movies and clips, representing premium content from at least a dozen networks and two major film studios.”

Lots of interesting positioning going on as the battle for video distribution rights begins to play out.  Should be quite an interesting space to watch in the coming months.