Lawmakers appear to be backing away from the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the wake of this week’s widespread Internet protest.

As previously reported, a number of the Web’s highest profile sites were blacked out or otherwise unavailable on Wednesday in opposition to the legislation. The bills, which were designed to combat foreign-based piracy of digital content, but which opponents claim would have wider undesirable consequences for Internet businesses and consumers, now appear to be dead in both the House and Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today canceled the vote on PIPA, which was previously scheduled for January 24. Shortly thereafter, at the urging of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) indicated that SOPA would be moved to the back burner.

With the future of SOPA and PIPA as we know them now in doubt, it remains to be seen whether alternative legislation such as the OPEN Act will gain traction, or whether reworked versions of the bills will resurface in the House and Senate at some future date. Of course, we will be closely monitoring further developments as the occur.