I have seen many people often misinterpret the concept of “duplicate content” and the idea of a penalty associated with it. Let me first state that search engines like Google will not penalize you per say, however writing duplicate content from a SEO stand point usually has little value and can cause your page to get filtered. I will explain more on that later in this post.
There is always going to be duplicate content on the Internet, it is unavoidable. Your website absolutely will at some point have some duplicate content. You cannot help it, nor should you.
Search engines naturally want to display results that are relevant to its searches and thus they do not want to show multiple results with the same content. Imagine if you were searching for information on “Pascack Valley NJ” and the results you received were websites with all the same content. Not too useful I would say. So search engines try to filter out the duplicates. If you are on the filtered side then your SERP will not be displayed. So purposely copying someones content runs you the chance of getting caught in the filter. Get caught in that filter and you will feel as if you were being penalized I bet.
Where the actual penalties come in is when people spam the search engines. Purposely trying to trick the search engines with invisible content, keyword spamming or other deceptions can trigger a penalty and the sentence is being de-listed.
So I think for the best possible results one should strive for good unique and dynamic content. Not only will it limit your chance of being filtered it will also provide good quality content and after all once someone finds you, it is a human that will be reading your pages and nothing replaces good, enjoyable, and informative content. So get out there and be unique, it will pay off in the end.