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Canon climbs atop Facebook with over-the-top pic wrangler

Online service takes your face out of Facebook if trolls strike

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TechEd Australia Having built numerous services over the top of what used to just be the World Wide Web, Facebook is now the established platform for plenty of applications. So it pretty much had to happen that someone would find a way to create services that clamber over The Social NetworkTM to subject it to some OTT pain.

That's what Canon seems to be doing with a cloudy image management offering, now taking pre-beta registrations, that will provide your-rights-in-your-hands image management using OAuth credentials so punters can pitch pics straight from an online storage bucket to social media.

Australia is acting as the test market for what Canon hopes will attract paying punters, so that instead of trying to create ad-supported models, it'll be able to leave content rights entirely in the hands of the person who took the picture.

Announcing the Microsoft Azure-based service at TechEd Australia, Canon explained that individuals and organisations find it increasingly difficult to keep a handle on their “tens of thousands” of images.

Digital project manager Myles Lawlor told journalists the challenge goes beyond merely organising images: once a user has pitched a pic at the wide world of social media, it's all too easy to lose control over both rights and re-use.

Hence beyond the easy stuff of upload and storage, the service will let users authenticate with existing social media accounts (Facebook and Flickr in the beta phase), push their pics out to social media, and from the image manager, keep track of how images are received in the social feeds.

From the same interface, Canon would then let users revoke a poorly-received posting.

The service will be device-independent, with support for all widespread raw image formats, and the uploader will have HTML5 support so users can drop photos directly from the desktop to the browser.

Once uploaded to the system, there's a very Tumblr-like image gallery that with the kinds of services people will expect (for example, search by image tag), and the gallery will organise images to reflect their usage, age, popularity and so on.

The question is: will people pay for what they can get for free on ad-supported services? Canon hopes that control will be the selling point.

“Photographs mean something to people”, Lawlor said. “We will never grab or assume rights over your images.” Unlike Facebook, which now claims ownership of users' faces .

Part of the purpose of the beta registrations will be to determine the likely pricing of the service, which Canon expects to go live in 2014.

As well as using Azure as the development and deployment platform for the service, Canon said, the platform made security development easy. “Authenticating to OAuth was key to us,” Lawlor said.

Pre-registrations are offered here. ®

The author is attending TechEd Australia as a guest of Microsoft, which has shelled out for travel, accommodation, nourishment and Nokia.

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