CPA Copyright Materials: When sharing is NOT caring

Confession time: I am an only child. My default action is not to share. I was socialized later in life to share scissors, snacks, and smiles in order to “pass” first grade. I digress.

Collaboration is cool

CPAWSB encourages candidates to collaborate. That is not what this post wishes to explore. Rather, I will discuss the difference between plagiarism and copyright, and how to ensure CPAWSB learners adhere to the professional standards and proper use of CPA PREP and PEP materials.

Define and determine

Merriam-Webster states plagiarism is the stealing ideas and passing them off as their own without appropriate attribution, while defining copyright as, “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work).” Using CPA Canada’s eBook in a submission without referencing would be considered plagiarism; distributing a CPA PEP solution in a group chat, even if all of the participants were likely CPAWSB candidates, would be considered copyright violation.

Examining examples

Did you know that it is never okay to share your assignment with another student? Prior to your submission, sharing your work product could be violation of plagiarism rules; once you have submitted your assignment that word product becomes CPA copyrighted materials. Candidates do not have the authority to distribute copyright materials to anyone without prior and explicit permission to do so. When it comes to third-party tutor or material sharing websites (such as Course Hero), receiving and submitting work that is not your own would be considered plagiarism, while sharing CPA materials would be considered copyright violation.

Penalty and punishment

Violations of plagiarism and copyright result in learners breaching their CPAWSB agreement, the documents signed when registering for CPAWSB courses. Penalties may include, and are not limited to, failure in CPA courses/modules (need to repeat the entire course/module), an approved ethics course successfully passed through a recognized Post-Secondary Institution, suspension, or even expulsion.

Ask before you act

Not sure if your action is permitted? Post a question to your facilitator, discussion board, or email outreach@cpawsb.ca. Simply not knowing you are violating a policy is insufficient and you will be held responsible for your actions. Each provincial body has its own Rules of Professional Conduct and you are held to the same standards as CPA members. If you become aware of someone who is using materials in an unauthorized way (plagiarism) or sharing CPA copyright materials (copyright violation), you are obligated to share this information with CPAWSB by contacting outreach@cpawsb.ca.

Reinforcing reminder

Our ability to serve the public interest as CPAs comes from always doing the right thing when no one is watching and unlikely to find out about our naughty or negligent actions. Do not disrespect yourself, your hard work, or the profession you are working hard to be a part of by violating policy and standards.

Friendly finale

For those of you keeping score, we want to maintain the lessons learned earlier in life (sharing scissors and smiles) and add in a few items that are not meant to be shared: Samantha’s snacks and CPA copyright materials. 


Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB, and an instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.