As every lawyer or history student knows, the law of the press varies greatly from country to country. In the United States, citizens enjoy freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, which generally means they can speak and report on anything they like as long as they don’t incite violence or publish defamatory falsehoods about others. However, other nations have strict regulations on published media, sometimes sometimes even suppressing local journalists. Recently, the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and other countries have begun to enforce limitations on specific aspects of the South Asian press.
Voice of America recently reported five governments in Southeast Asia have passed or suggested new legislation designed to control the reporting industry. So called “illegal” websites are being targeted specifically, with amateur bloggers among the most repressed.
While several countries are tightening rules, Burma is actually relaxing its once-strict media law, although there are still harsh penalties for violations. “The authorities have not yet shared what’s in the text of the media law,” said Alternative ASEAN Network spokesperson Debbie Stothard, according to the news source. “But previously they have mentioned that although the law is supposed to be one of the most progressive media laws in the region, they were still drawing on elements from Vietnam, which is not exactly a bastion of media freedom.”
For those who follow our blog, the question is, “What use is this to me?” Our business is legal recruitment for multinational law firms, none of whom would be hiring associates or partners to advise on local freedom of the press issues. The relevance of expansion/retraction of free press to our readers is not obvious at first blush, but is there nonetheless. We have found over the years that there has been an uptick in interest at top firms in intellectual property lawyers and also in deal flow related to media outlets as freedom of the press has been enhanced. Where there is a drop in press freedom, firm managers often find themselves less willing to invest in these practice areas.
If you are an expert on media law or intellectual property or just a deal lawyer who has media experience, make sure we know each other. The professionals at Kinney Recruiting can help you stay on top of the market in Asia for your skills.
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