The answer is no, Google does not penalize for duplicate content. Anywhere between 25-30% of content on the web is duplicative, and Google doesn't treat duplicate content as spam. It takes all the duplicates and groups them into a cluster, and then Google will show the best of the results in that cluster - depending on which site is better suited either for whatever the original search term was or how the site is setup for SEO.
The only time Google can possibly penalize for duplicating content is when one site is excessively duplicating content in a manipulative manner. Overall, duplicate content is normal and not spam.
Here's a blog post (with a video explanation) we wrote that speaks
directly to the topic: http://mysmartblog.com/
Next, we have a video from MySmartBlog.com CEO that speaks on the topic.
Lastly, here is a video where we did side-by-side training on how
one of our clients optimized our channel-driven content to get to the
front page of Google very quickly.
I think you'll see that our channel-driven content doesn't hurt your SEO rankings, and likely may help your rankings as long as you are adding high-quality, keyword-rich content in addition to the content that we post.
Just contact us with any questions or concerns.