Duplicate content penalties by Google is one of the most argued subjects in online world and also perhaps one of the most misunderstood.
I want to share today and article I just read and I think you can benefit from greatly as it dissects information coming directly from Google Search Quality team on duplicate content, penalties, etc:
Google Busts the Duplicate Content Myth
Greg begins by clearing up a popular myth about duplicate content, and that is that Google penalizes sites for having duplicate content. This is not the case. That’s not to say that duplicate content can’t have a negative impact on your rankings, but Google itself is not penalizing you for it. Read More Here
Also pay attention to the comments for some superb info, some of it might explain why I always take legal action against those who steal my content.