On one side of the great duplicate content debate, we hear continuously that even though Google does not yet have the ability to chase down all copies of the articles that online marketers use for marketing, they will one day soon, and on that day, if you haven't been using technologies like article spinners to generate semi-unique content, your earnings are going to get hammered.
That is one view, and I think it to be the dominant view currently. It's definitely prudent. Nobody knows what the future holds, and it's advisable to plan for a tragedy that never occurs than not to plan, and get caught with your pants down.
Nonetheless, there's another area in the debate. One that I don't think gets enough air time. I place it here, not to change minds, but just to give it a fair hearing. The alternate position is basically this:
Google loves duplicate content. Additionally, the entire internet and all our modern communications are based upon easily duplicated content. Consider:
We make it simple to forward voice mails
Heck, also the task of REPLYING to an e-mail produces a copy of the original note.
Most forums have an automatic quote function to make it a snap to make a copy of the post you're replying to.
And there are real world SEO reasons besides.
When the AP releases a news story, it is collected by dozens, if not hundreds of news sites and run verbatim. If duplicate content were bad, then these news agencies would have horrible rankings, would they not? If Google actually penalized them for duplicate material, they would be among the worst ranking sites via the internet, and naturally, the exact opposite is true. That alone seems to be a fairly large knock against the outright necessity of Article spinners.
Additionally, consider the blog vs html site controversy. Blogs, we are told, have numerous inherent benefits that make them rank much better, pound for pound, than their static html competitors.
But let's look a bit deeper. What, specifically ARE those benefits?
As it seems, a considerable chunk of the advantage takes the form of tags and categories, that get auto-inserted into your content.
And what are tags and categories?
Heck...they are links to DUPLICATE CONTENT right on your site!
So the very thing that folks are saying that Google will one day penalize you for is the thing that helps your blog rank higher.
Clearly, both of these can not be true, and currently, we KNOW it's true that a) news sites rank very highly, and b) blogs are likely to outrank static html sites, so unless Google totally changes its mind, it would appear that the jury is in, and duplicate content is a good thing!
Article spinners may or may not be required, but certainly, it never hurts to be careful...