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We proposed to utilize the scalable peer-to-peer network to perform the content-based image retrieval and mining, i.e, P2P-CBIRM. The decentralized unstructured P2P model with certain overheads, i.e., peer clustering and update procedures, is adopted to compromise with the structured one while still reserving flexible routing control when peers join/leave or network fails. The peer CBIRM engine is designed to utilize multi-instance query with multi-feature types to effectively reduce network traffic while maintaining high retrieval accuracy. It helps to enhance the knowledge discovery and image data mining capability. The proposed P2P-CBIRM system provides the scalable retrieval and mining function that the query scope and retrieval accuracy can be adaptively and progressively controlled. To improve the query efficiency (recall-rate/query-scope), it effectively utilizes both: 1) forwarding query message (forward phase) to reduce the query scope and 2) transmitting retrieval results (backward phase) such that activated peers keep filtering high similarity images on the link-path toward the query peer. Experiments show that the query efficiency of the scalable retrieval approach is better than previous methods, i.e., firework query model and breadth-first search. It provides a scalable knowledge discovery platform for efficient image data mining applications. We also proposed to optimally configure the P2P-CBIRM system such that, under a certain number of online users, it would yield the highest recall rate. Simulations demonstrate that, with the optimal configuration, recall rates can be improved to 2.5 to 3 times larger while the network traffic of each peer is reduced to 30% of the original, under the same number of on-line users.