Photo art thief Valentina Ruggiero

A while back a friend contacted me and told me my face was on the art site Saatchi. I was confused until I saw the link for myself. 

It was a photo-manipulation of me covered in freckles selling for $300 a picture.

This was a real eye-opener for me. My work was stolen and being sold on the Saatchi website by Valentina Ruggiero for $300 a piece. 50 pictures were up for sale. 
I have no idea how much Valentina made from Saatchi whilst using my image. The publish date was October 2012 and I discovered it in February 2013. 

The photograph was from an account I have on an art community website called DeviantArt. I set-up my profile on DeviantArt many years ago, when I was very young, and I was so excited by the community. How creative people were, how inspired I was by the people. All these things are still true 'till this day.

All the stock images I provided were licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 3.0 like below

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
  • Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

With the understanding that:

  • Waiver — Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

The reason I started providing stock images because I could not find any African girl stock providers. Over the years I started finding others, to date I probably know about 2 other African girls that do this.
Though I have learned so much and have been inspired by some of the people I have met on the website, it is unfortunate that I have encountered, self proclaimed "artists" who steal and intentionally rip people off without any consideration of the art creator whats so ever. These people are disgusting and so is their behavior.

As sad as it may be, I've stopped providing stock for DeviantArt community members.

Kxhara -pictured below- stocks were also stolen. 
She too has began to protect access to her stock.

Below is what she had to say on the matter.

"Hello, Valentina Ruggiero.

I see you have a masters in fine arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. I see you are a talented artist who has won lots of awards and much acclaim. I would hope that after all those years of school they taught you about copyright etiquette.
Valentina, I hold no ill will towards you beyond removing what you have done wrong. I am not a cruel or vindictive person, but I don’t like being taken advantage of. This total removal of your internet reputation and presence is simply to maintain the balance between artists.

If you are interested in compensating me for use of my stock, please email me at Otherannadesigns@gmail.comI would be happy to discuss payment and licensing.

I think your art is beautiful. It’s just too bad that it’s stolen."
Days Later

"In less than 24 hours, her shop is down, her personal website is down, her twitter, facebook and portfolio pages are all down.

Battle won? Possibly.

This is the usual response to public outcry to theft. The infringer simply closes up shop as fast as possible and goes into hiding. On the positive side, they are no longer making money from or getting recognition for their infringing work. On the negative side, none of the models have heard any word from and certainly no money from the thief. And we probably won’t.

So what will happen in the future?

Hopefully with her website, shop and twitter down, google will bump up the search result for thief beside her name. This will let future employers and contest judges know that she has infringed in the past because, in all likelihood, she is going to keep making art. Whether that art is legit or not is up to her. I mean, hey, some people do get scared straight. They find out that swiping images just isn’t worth getting caught and set out on their own two feet. I hope that happens here.

She is going to make work again, it's just a matter of when.

A bold infringer will simply wait a while, change their name, and then set up shop somewhere down the road. Maybe she’ll use different stock, maybe she’ll just post the same stuff. Point being, this isn’t necessarily over and done with. It’s not worth raging and fist-shaking about, but simply a reminder to keep vigilant and keep googling her name every once in a while to see if she pops up again to sell her stolen work.

Lastly, there are a few contests left where she has won prizes or honorable mentions.

http://www.donkeyartprize.com/ (the donkey Art Prize)
She also entered the London International Creative Competition 
Using Niniel stock’s photo http://fav.me/d2l91dq

I know you can read this."

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