Pipa Protest
Pipa has met with strong criticism for censoring the internet

A vote for the controversial Protect Intellectual Property Act which was due to take place on 24 January has been postponed, following the blackout protest.

Senate leaders have postponed the vote after thousands of websites, including Wikipedia, Wordpress and Reddit, staged a blackout on 18 January to promote their disagreement with the act, along with the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa).

"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Continuing: "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs.

"We must take action to stop these illegal practices."

The postponement of the vote signals a major victory for those who are against the act, and a defeat for the entertainment industry, which believes that the act is required to stop movies, TV shows and songs from being downloaded and shared for free.

The blackouts on 18 January - believed to have included as many as 10,000 websites - has clearly raised awareness of Pipa and Sopa; more than 160 million people visited Wikipedia during the blackout and were greeted with a message explaining why the acts are at risk of censoring the internet.

Wikipedia directed visitors to contact their members of congress by telephone, resulting in "melting the switchboards" according to the online encyclopaedia.

The decision comes on the same day that file sharing website Megaupload was taken down by American authorities, followed by a fierce backlash by hacktivists Anonymous, who performed a number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which brought down the US depart for justice and MGM shop websites in quick succession.

Reid added: "I admire the work that Chairman Leahy has put into this bill. I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans' intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet."

A new date for the vote has not yet been set, but Reid did say: "We made good progress through the discussions we've held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks."