This is a topic that has been over-hyped and discussed way to much. It is true if you just programatically build out multiple sites all with the same or similar content you will get dinged for this.
The problem people have is they are too focused on what search engines are thinking and forgot about their #2 users..."HUMANS".
You need to be found in search engines so that HUMANS can find you, but you also need to identify that people find information in other ways too. They use RSS Feeds, Social Networks, Home Page Sites, News Sites, Blog Aggregators, and much much more.
So when getting worried about duplicate content just ask yourself, "Am I maliciously replicating this content just to get more keyword value"? If you aren't and you genuinely are syndicated the content for real consumption, don't worry so much.
Search engines are smart, they can tell what is real content and usually can tell what the source is.