Duplicate content neither hurts you or affects your page rank. When confronted with two duplicate pages Google will take all factors into consideration and give one preference over the other. That's it. No penalties, no punishment.
Also, Page Rank is a metric for inbound links. That's all it is. The more link juice a page receives, the higher the PR regardless of quality, freshness or how many duplicates there are of the same content.
PR also doesn't correlate to SERPs ranking. They are two separate things. While it's true that the top ten results are generally full of pages with decent PR, that doesn't mean they are there because of that.
Last edited by claybutler; 04-18-2012 at 10:13 AM.
However, your opinions do not comport very well with either information publicly released by Google or countless observations of actual SERPs.
Why should any SE place an overarching premium on either "originality" or "freshness," when true originality is in fact exceedingly rare, such that most of that which is "fresh" is in reality a representation of the old?
There is a widespread misunderstanding of the freshness thing, which is evidenced by the many postings on many forums which repeat it. For many it means constantly adding something to a page, in the belief that by doing so Google will reward the action with an increase in SERP. There is no understanding among those who follow this belief that freshness applies to content which is sensitive to the time factor, for them it is across the board. It doesn't seem to matter too much what is added, just so long as it is "fresh".
If Google preferred fresh content to old in all circumstances, even when judging duplicate content, one could simple scrape the posts of the worlds most popular blogs and re post the same content a day later and take all the traffic away from the original blog. After all, it's fresher now isn't it?
Or perhaps I could rewrite the most popular articles on Scientific American and publish them on my "Really Scientific American" blog and dominate the SERPs. After all, even if I'm just changing a few words around to make it "original", my content would definitely be fresher, and therefore given preference in the SERPs.
It only takes a few minutes to work through a couple of probable scenarios to see that, one, it would be a freaking disaster to reward "freshness" above all other considerations including page rank and reputation, and two, if you actually looked at the SERPs for any reasonably popular term you would know that it's false.