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GeoTIFF is a public domain metadata standard which allows georeferencing information to be embedded within a TIFF file. The potential additional information includes map projection, coordinate systems, ellipsoids, datums, and everything else necessary to establish the exact spatial reference for the file. The GeoTIFF format is fully compliant with TIFF 6.0, so software incapable of reading and interpreting the specialized metadata will still be able to open a GeoTIFF format file.[1]

An alternative to the "inlined" TIFF geospatial metadata is the *.tfw World File sidecar file format which may sit in the same folder as the regular TIFF file to provide a subset of the functionality of the standard GeoTIFF described here.


The GeoTIFF format was originally created by Dr. Niles Ritter while he was working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.[2]

The reference implementation code was released mostly as public domain software with some parts under a permissive X license.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sk. Sazid Mahammad, R. Ramakrishnan, GeoTIFF - A standard image file format for GIS applications. Retrieved on 2010-03-02.
  2. ^ Ruth, Mike (February 2005). Who owns the GeoTIFF format?. Retrieved on 2008-02-16.
  3. ^ on in license "libgeotiff Licensing - All the source code in this toolkit are either in the public domain, or under an X style license. In any event it is all considered to be free to use for any purpose (including commercial software). No credit is required though some of the code requires that the specific source code modules retain their existing copyright statements. The CSV files, and other tables derived from the EPSG coordinate system database are also free to use. In particular, no part of this code is "copyleft", nor does it imply any requirement for users to disclose this or their own source code. All components not carrying their own copyright message, but distributed with libgeotiff should be considered to be under the same license as Niles' code."

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