Microsoft's YouTube Rival Re-opens

Microsoft on Friday re-opened MSN Soapbox, the company's competitor to Google's YouTube, after two months of being closed to the public due to copyright concerns. The updated Soapbox now lets anyone view videos without being signed, and includes filtering of content.

The filtering technology, provided by Audible Magic, is intended to allow Microsoft to identify when potentially copyrighted material is uploaded to the service. In turn, the company can more easily block access and avoid the lawsuits that are piling up against YouTube from Viacom and others.

"Audible Magic bases their filtering on the video's audio track and their database is being updated constantly," Soapbox developers explained. "By using this technology, we see this as an important step to ensure the viability and success of Soapbox over the long run."

Microsoft has also preemptively signed content deals with NBC and FOX to stream the studios' television shows on Soapbox. As it continues to strengthen Soapbox's offerings, the company is likely getting pressure from copyright owners not to repeat YouTube's mistakes.

Other new features added to Soapbox include the ability to view videos in full screen and embed the Soapbox player on other Web sites. In addition, Microsoft says it has improved performance to make encoding and playback as fast as possible.

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