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If you want it to be accessible to other programs (e.g. in a jpg format) then it needs to go via the server. I guess you could save a limited amount of data in a local sharedobject to recreate the image next time in flash but that would be very limited in terms of what you could do.
If you're using as3 then there is a Jpeg encoding class available that lets you convert it to jpeg format to save on the round trip time between flash and the server. I haven't used it but there are some tutorials/demos online using it. One of them uses amfphp.
It is a pity you cant shoot data to the user with specific image headers without needing to go through the server.
Oh well. Thaks for the info. I'll take a look at jpeg concoding the data on the fly from flash.
Yes... I think you can only ever place plain text on the clipboard too, so I don't think that's an option either even though you can play with byte data in as3.
Here's an example of the JPEGencoder: