Monday 25 May 2015

Intellectual property for the creative Christian – Part 1

By Kayleen West

Intellectual property rights not only protect an end product, but also creative ideas. Creatives make and sell their ideas in the form of written, illustrated, performed or virtual products. This valuable commodity requires laws for protection. Enforcing our rights as Christians, however, may not always end in a courtroom.

I faced an intellectual property challenge days after receiving this article request. A client commissioned weeks of my time as a professional illustrator, only to cancel abruptly midway. No phone call to discuss any issue. Just goodbye—I appreciate your effort— but I don’t feel I need to pay you anything. I offered a kill fee for my time to release him from full payment with a generous discount for prompt payment. He ignored all communication. My husband was infuriated and went for a long bike ride to pray. I had been up late most nights for weeks working to meet the extremely tight deadline and my clients every request. I had even sourced printing to save my client thousands of dollars. He was a Christian. We were both stunned!

Creative projects are no less valuable than any other paid service. While we automatically pay a dentist for fillings, creatives too, deserve financial compensation for their time.

I launched into prayer but felt foolish and incredibly robbed. I was about to claim my account legally when I felt God say, “Release the debt to me and I will bless you.” Scripture began to flood my mind. I then saw the seriousness of what this man had done. I felt God impress on me that theft is never a silent act and to get advice from my pastor to confirm what to do. I did. I handed over the debt to God and felt immediate peace. I also knew God’s capacity to bless far outweighed any financial reward. My heavenly Father blesses with gifts money can’t buy!

I experienced several delightful miracles that confirmed to me God’s blessing began immediately—I was thrilled! My bank account awaits my earnings but I have faith that God will provide compensation somehow. I have peace knowing my provision comes from God not man.

My intention was always to thrill my client by blessing him with my gift and experience. I am disappointed I didn’t get to complete the project but maybe God is teaching him something—who knows? I learned something too. Just because someone recommends someone they believe to be honest (even a Christian) always take a deposit and prompt stage payments no matter what! I didn’t do this and my client cancelled just before the deadline of the first instalment. Understanding our rights is important and we don’t need to be doormats for abuse, but we are called to live in peace where possible, and make right choices. I made a mistake that cost me a month’s wages. It was a costly for my family but I’ll never repeat this error.

I want to be a peacekeeper; to be guided by the Holy Spirit and God’s word in all things. This particular challenge raised a lot of questions for me but I found God’s answer in this situation. I am grateful God deals with some of the tougher issues in my life when I can’t and can step in as my dad and take care of things.

If we (as Christ representatives) mirror Christ by honouring other people; their time and intellectual property we wouldn’t need a court of law. Business integrity needs to start within our own community. This may seem idealistic but think about this… if the church mirrored Jesus more closely perhaps the world would see Jesus more clearly. Remember… salt of the earth? By their fruit you’ll know them? Be a light on the hill… etc? Bad leaven does spoil the dough, reflecting not only on ALL the church but also unfairly on the Lord Himself.

Let’s make it a regular prayer to be more like Christ in all we do including business? I promise to continue to do the same.

In my next article I’ll talk about what is acceptable image usage and copyright.

In the meantime, here are the scriptures that flooded my mind:
"You are not to oppress your neighbour or rob him." The wages of a hired labourer are not to remain in your possession until morning. - Leviticus 19:13 
People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. - Proverbs 6:30-31 
Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. - James 5:4

Kayleen is an award winning children's author, illustrator, designer and creative educator. Her works hang in private and corporate collections around the world including the Australian Embassy in Ireland. Since late 2009 she has authored picture books, Adoptive Father and Without Me? and illustrated, Better Than A Superhero, Celia and Nonna and the soon to be released, We Worship God by Xist Publishing.

You can view her portfolio and blog at


  1. Well said, Kayleen. There is something wrong if anyone believes it's okay to take time off another person (time when you could have been working on a paying job), and it's even worse if that person is a Christian. But you also right in that it is best to turn these things over to God, no matter what we might feel.

    Thank you for being an encouragement this morning.

    1. Thanks Iola. It is my default position if I ever feel hurt or disappointment to turn to prayer before any offense sets in. I think it is part of guarding our hearts and how we can keep them soft.

  2. Hi Kayleen, Thanks for visiting ACW and sharing your expertise with us. I'm glad you're at peace with the situation you mentioned in your post. It would be lovely if Christians always behaved ethically in their business relationships. Unfortunately I do think there are situations and circumstances that can require Christians to seek legal advice, and possibly pursue legal action. in response to contractual and other issues in business relationships with Christians. Negotiating a fair contract with an upfront deposit and a defined payment schedule is a good way to help minimise the losses from clients who aren't fulfilling their financial responsibilities.

    1. Yes Narelle, I will unmoving in financial agreements from now on—lesson learned! I agree also that there are time we have to go to court. This time God wanted the debt for some reason. I'm just glad I am not the one who owes Him!

  3. What invaluable advice, Kayleen. So sorry you experienced such underhand dealing but so glad you've allowed the Lord to give you His peace. Ugh, as I think about it I can empathize, because it reminded me of the Christian publisher who took advantage of me in this way by not paying either an advancement or royalties and yet having the gall to make money from my full length novels. I can laugh about my naivete now, but it hurt when it happened. Thank the Lord He is able to remove any bitterness when we turn our hurts over to Him.

    1. Rita, I'm so sorry to heart that. I like that altered saying; you can live in a garage but it doesn't make you a car. The original,: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”
      ― Billy Sunday

      Once I heard God say to me not to worry about what others where doing and to "be the exception". I try to do that. If we individually do what we can to abide in Him and love others—we have done our little bit. The rest is up to the One with all the power to make big changes.

      Like he promised me, I pray the Lord blesses you (or has already) regardless of that publisher's dishonesty.

  4. Sadly, over the years we have found in our business that Christians are usually the most demanding clients, the ones who want the biggest discounts and the ones who generally take the longest to pay. It's a sad state of affairs. Sometimes it is difficult to let go of things like this but it's necessary for our spiritual and emotional health.

    1. It is sad Lynne. Christians are meant to be the exception in a good way. It make it difficult for others who are trustworthy and a pleasure to do business with. The next client job I had was a breeze and complete opposite—and a Christian lady. But I did feel nervous after the sting.

  5. this happens in other issues too. I use to be a Creative Memories consultant and also did candles for awhile I had a couple of friends who were Christians who wanted some items assuring me they would pay but couldn't for a short time. I was happy to help them out but never did get he money. (You would think I learnt my lesson but when it came to the candles she wanted some so I ordered them only for her to then say she couldn't pay and didn't want them I still have some of them) I have actually found often its the non Christian's who are more considerate. It did make me more careful. (although I still have a lot of stock in the house). While its not writing its the same sort of issue.

  6. I'm sorry to hear Jenny. I have been taken for very large sums of money by folks that were not Christian in my past so this is on the easier end of financial loss for me via people of any faith. Still, it just should be part of our community at all.


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