I managed to ping Google’s @mattcutts after the announcement of rel=”author” support from Google on Twitter and he clarified the use case a little.
As Twitter’s search is still so terrible at finding things I am adding the conversation here.
My last point is at least partially related to Google’s Panda update because it is quite frequently seen, possibly more than before, that original content doesn’t rank yet scraped copies of it does.
There are reasons why that happens, but a microformat rel=”author” and possibly something new… rel=”original” for a link to the canonical source would be useful.
Something like this would be easier to implement than the metatag alternative currently in testing with newspapers. ( original-source & syndication-source )
This is something really easy to get implemented in a number of CMSs, though in most cases it would be theme dependent not something that is part of core.