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BigTIFF logically extends the original TIFF file format, breaking the 4 gigabyte boundary, in theory allowing files up to 18,000 de:petabytes in size. The BigTIFF specification is the result of work by a variety of parties on the LibTiff mailing list, including the current LibTiff maintainers, Joris Van Damme and Adobe staff. The BigTIFF specification has not yet been officially approved by the TIFF specification owner (Adobe) but implementation within LibTiff could accelerate that process.

BigTIFF is expected to be especially useful for people and vendors that are confronted with unusually large images, and still seek to use an open, simple, and extendable format. This requirement is frequently seen in the geospatial field, but also affects large format scanners, medical imaging and other fields.