Right now it appears that if a good PR site decides to copy, they will pretty much outrank any smaller, lesser PR site.
Yes. If you go back to the original Panda threads from Feb/March 2011, you can see this being discussed hotly - and I recommend people re-reading those threads - so many people were sharing data that it was possible to deduce patterns (these days those who get hit by Panda only have a few anecdotes to go by), some of which were on the money, eg we spotted the above the fold issue way before G admitted they were targetting ads, and some of us were arguing that people should switch off their RSS feeds (and if I recall correctly, Tedster tested this out with one of his clients a few months later and they reported a partial recovery).
It's also possible to disable hotlinking in your cPanel - do it, it's the only way to deal with images being stolen by Pinterest.
What I think happened, was that G was so focused on taking down the article directories like Ezinearticles (who allowed syndication) they felt that anyone syndicating their stuff would be a low quality site and therefore it would be "safe" to use the presence of duplicates as a signal that the originator was engaged in syndication. I guess they didn't think about the scraping issue - that only surfaced after they released Panda, and though they've had several gos at trying to fix it, they have been unsuccessful.