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slobizman said: Does Google and the other search engines know that I was the original author somehow...?
If you and a higher-ranked "authority" site both have the same content, then it seems a safe bet that the search-engine algorithm would include the other site, while yours would be demoted in some manner (being one of the sites "omitted" from a list of search results, being banned from the index, etc).
Just my opinion, of course; I could be wrong....