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I am using a custom upload box to allow a subscriber to upload their own avatar. currently the upload is failing as subscribers do not have media upload permissions.

I do not really want to enable this for all files and all subscribers site wide for security reasons. Is there a way or creating a new capability which only grants them 'image' upload permissions on a specific front end page?

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Are you referring to the Media Uploader? You might be better off not granting caps for this, but instead adding a custom file upload field. –  vancoder Apr 26 '13 at 17:09
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