We write our own unique content about our industry at large, not necessarily about our service. We have a website with a Pagerank of 6 and a blog as a sub-directory (ourdoamin.com/blog). Currently we post to our blog and have canonical links on the article pages. We have also been submitting to article sites using content crooner which in turn submits to ezinearticles, etc. We occasionally submit directly to these article sites to get the maximum allowance that may be limited through the auto submitters. The benefit is that on those sites, we can get 1-2 follow links to our main service pages.
In this scenario, are we penalized for having duplicate content or are only the article sites themselves penalized? If yes, how does it differ from sites like PRWeb that also syndicate content? Or are they also panda no-no's?
You are penalized by the fact that you are spending time & energy on a poor way of link building. Article sites were a good idea five years ago. Over the years the value of links from article sites has decreased. Google knows anyone submitting an article will get a link so its not really a prized link in Google's eye. There is little pagerank or trust value that is being passed through those links.
You would do much better to provide free content to relevant websites with link embedded in the content. For example offer to do guest blog posts or contact related trade organizations/non-profits with outdated content on their site & offer to rewrite it.
ps I hope you aren't submitting content that is hosted on your site to these article sites. To be extra safe I would not even use an article rewriter to republish my site content on other sites. I want Google to see my content as unique & valuable.
Where he answers a question about how google determines duplicate content. It sounds like the primary mechanism is what google crawls first and perhaps a secondary mechanism of a timestamp. I don't know if I would trust a timestamp system as content fragments can have various groupings on a single page with just one time stamp...just would seem very difficult for google to assign a large index of say paragraphs and sentences individual timestamps.
So, I agree with goodroi in that article writing/link schemes aren't worth it anymore, but if you do persist definitely make sure google crawls your content first...wait a bit...then submit your content.
I would still be leery of google though...I've had a number of content fragments scraped/reused from our site where we did have this content first online...but google in the SERP's rewards other websites (sometimes) more so if I do searches for these sentences.