Search engines don’t mean to be discouraging, but sometimes they need to hand out penalties. In the past, these penalties were only given to websites that broke the terms of service search engines like Google and Yahoo had in place. Penalties were saved for extreme cases only, and only given out when Google and co. thought someone was trying to game the system and break the rules.
As search engines have progressed though, and their algorithms have become more detailed, the amount of penalties handed out has increased. The introduction of the Penguin, Panda and EMD upgrades has required Google to become much stricter in the way it hands out penalties. Duplicate content can now be enough to land you with a black mark against your site. You may feel bad about it, as if you’ve done something terribly wrong, but the truth is that these penalties are now being handed out like candy by Google. Websites can pick them up for minor things, things you didn’t even think were that serious.