How Did A Pot-Smoking Anarchist Become The Guardian Of The Conventional Morality?

JTA’s head of digital media, Daniel Sierardski, writes:

One phenomenon that appears to be accelerating the decline of at least some Jewish news organizations is the rise of a group of Jewish news aggregation Web sites, predominantly serving the ultra-Orthodox community, which copy and republish in-full, without permission or payment, content from more prominent Jewish news sources, robbing them of both desperately needed licensing fees and revenue-generating Web site traffic.

JTA, for example, is a syndication service which requires that third parties sign a licensing agreement to redistribute our content. Nearly 100 Jewish newspapers around the world pay for this service dutifully, though that number is now declining due to the state of the industry. While we depend on these revenues to continue in our service as the primary source of national and international Jewish news coverage in North America and around the globe (as well as to provide our staff its parnassah), unauthorized Web sites such as Yeshiva World News, Vos Iz Neias,, COLlive, and, which do not have licensing arrangements with JTA, reprint our content — and that of our colleagues and competitors — with impunity, despite the clear illegality of such practices. These Web sites then profit from the sale of advertising alongside our stolen content.

Does the republishing of JTA news stories rob JTA of revenue-generating web traffic?

I don’t think so. Most search traffic comes from Google which has a duplicate content penalty. When the websites Sierardski writes about duplicate content, Google not only does not send them traffic for these stories, it penalizes them with lower search engine rankings.

Google says in its webmaster guidelines: "If you find that another site is duplicating your content by scraping (misappropriating and republishing) it, it’s unlikely that this will negatively impact your site’s ranking in Google search results pages. If you do spot a case that’s particularly frustrating, you are welcome to file a DMCA request to claim ownership of the content and request removal of the other site from Google’s index."

Does republishing JTA stories on blogs rob JTA of licensing fees? I doubt it. These blogs couldn’t afford licensing fees. As far as Jewish newspapers go, they make most of their money from their print editions. Republishing JTA content online will never be a money-maker for them. Duplicate content once again.

As far as revenue-generating web traffic goes, JTA does a terrible job with its Adsense and other advertising content. When JTA won’t make the least effort to understand how to use web advertising, how can anyone feel sorry for them? They are deliberately incompetent yet want to blame others for their problems.

I very kindly and gently pointed out these matters to Sierardski a couple of months ago, receiving in reply this.

No wonder much of the Jewish blogosphere hates JTA.

The whole thing makes you wonder what Sierardski is smoking and how much damage this has done to his brain power. And why is he suddenly all concerned about acting within the law when it comes to this one matter? After all, he presents himself as the Orthodox Anarchist. I guess he’s an anarchist when it suits him, Orthodox when it suits him, and law-abiding when it suits him.

He sounds like me. Shame Prop 8 passed or we’d be able to give concrete expression to our feelings for each other.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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