Anti-piracy bills shelved by US Congress

Anti-piracy bills shelved by US Congress

The US Congress has indefinitely postponed debate on two disputed anti-piracy bills, two days after protest blackouts by hundreds of websites including online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid Friday postponed a planned vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT IP Act," Reid wrote on his Twitter account.

Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, then said his panel would also shelve the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) until an agreement was reached.

Smith said in a statement: "I have heard the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding the proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products."

The moves come after hundreds of major websites including Wikipedia and blog-hosting site WordPress blacked out for 24 hours Wednesday.

The legislation is aimed at cracking down on online movie and music piracy by blocking access to websites thought to traffic counterfeit material, but critics fear internet censorship.

More than seven million people signed a Google petition seeking to block the passage of the bills.

On Wednesday, Russia's Pirate Party staged a protest outside the US embassy in Moscow in support of the campaign.

The party said the bills could derail Russia's nascent online democracy.

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