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Just three days after the blackout of Wikipedia and other sites, U.S. legislators have postponed votes on the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act.

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act #PIPA,” wrote Reid on his Twitter account. In a follow-up Tweet, Reid added: “There’s no reason that legitimate issues raised about PROTECT IP can’t be resolved. Counterfeiting & piracy cost 1000s of #jobs yearly#pipa?”

Meanwhile, Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texas Congressman who led the charge on SOPA, said that he plans to postpone “consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.” At the GOP debate in South Carolina last night, all four candidates said they opposed SOPA.

“The law as written is far too intrusive, far too expansive, far too threatening to freedom of speech and movement of information across the Internet. It would have a potentially depressing impact on one of the fastest-growing industries in America,” said Republican front runner Mitt Romney.

A number of technology companies, including, Microsoft and Google, opposed the legislation. On Wednesday, Google blacked out its logo and put a message on its site highlighting its opposition to SOPA.

Opponents said that SOPA and PIPA went too far by allowing the shutdown of sites accused of enabling copyright violations, which would have received an expanded definition under the bill.

Here’s a good debate on the issue between Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh — a fierce opponent — and NBC Universal’s Rick Cotton — a supporter of the measure.

Watch A World Without Wikipedia: For SOPA, Websites Threaten a Midnight Blackout on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

And here’s Senator Reid’s full statement on the Protect IP Act:

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.

“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. We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day’s work, whether that person is a miner in the high desert of Nevada, an independent band in New York City, or a union worker on the back lots of a California movie studio.

“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. 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.”

UPDATE: Former Senator Chris Dodd, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, a big SOPA supporter, issued this statement today.

We applaud those leaders in Washington who have chosen to stand with the millions of hard working Americans all across this nation whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign criminal websites designed to steal. As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves; American jobs will continue to be lost; and consumers will continue to be exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.

With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property. The threat posed by these criminal operations has been widely acknowledged by even the most ardent critics. It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.

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