A vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) scheduled for January 24 was called off today by Senate majority leader Harry Reid in the wake of Wednesday’s protests that notably included a blackout of the popular Wikipedia website.

The PIPA legislation, along with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), was strongly lobbied for by the Motion Picture Association of America and the book publishing and music recording industries. It had also received support on both sides of the aisle in Congress. The bills were widely believed to be on the fast track for passage despite strong opposition from Internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

According to a variety of sources, close to 300,000 people tweeted links to Google’s anti-PIPA and anti-SOPA web pages on Wednesday, and close to a quarter of a million tweets linked to Wikipedia’s blacked-out web page. The Wikipedia page contained a box for people to input their ZIP code to receive the contact information for their congressional representatives.

On Thursday at least 18 senators withdrew their support for both pieces of legislation.

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According to The Wall Street Journal, Reid gave no reason for the postponement other than to say it was in response to “recent events.” He denied that the bills were dead, but his statement of continuing support has been widely interpreted as lukewarm.

Reid announced his decision on his Twitter account this morning.

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