In 2022, the National Palace Museum admitted that three national treasures in its archive had been broken. Recently, the media reported that digital images of nearly 100,000 artifacts were stolen in June 2022 and put up for sale or offered for free online. The resolution of the images was even higher than the museum's open data files.
High-res images of artworks are organized by category on the website. These are images of artifacts in the National Palace Museum's collection, and they were available for purchase on Taobao and other online platforms. Some were priced cheaply, and others were free. It's believed these images were stolen.
Huang Yung-tai, Administrative Affairs Deputy Director, NPM: “(An assistant researcher) used a system that they designed to reduce the resolution and convert files and some issues emerged during the file transfer process. They were converted from high resolution to medium to high resolution, and one file could be stolen in just one second. It was very fast.”
The museum is digitalizing its collection so that images can be accessed through digital platforms. An assistant researcher was converting files and transferring them from an internal network to a government system that was open to the public. Hackers then stole about 100,000 images during the transfer process.
Chen Chung-yu, Senior Specialist, Office of Digital Info. Services, NPM: “These high-res images were not publicly available. Only parts of these images were available. The hackers were able to get 1.5 million partial images and used software to piece them together. This means that first of all, the images that are circulating aren't the original high-res images and second of all, there might be marks where they were joined together.”
The museum was embroiled in a scandal just last year when three national treasures were found broken. Now, it's been reported that its digital files were leaked in June 2022. The museum said this was unintentional and it will ask lawyers to study whether its IP rights were infringed upon. It has also asked online platforms to remove the images.