Stones’ new record sells on secure memory card

The Rolling Stones’ latest album, A Bigger Bang, will be the first to be released in the new flash memory card format developed by SanDisk.

The TrustedFlash format combines SD flash memory cards with a proprietary DRM technology that enables the contents of the card to be played on any compatible device – a phone, computer or PDA for example – but prevents any copying. The same DRM will allow paid-for music downloads to be saved directly to the card, and the technology already has the backing of Yahoo!, as well as record labels and device makers.

Music in the TrustedFlash format will be released under the excruciatingly named grüvi brand and will include so-called ‘premium’ content. The Stones’ album, for instance, will also include previews of the band’s back catalogue which can then be purchased either directly through a wireless device or a PC.

Yoram Cedar, SanDisk’s senior vice president of engineering and the emerging markets business unit, explained that the cards are highly secure, due to an on-board processor, cryptographic engine and tamper-resistant technology, which, he claimed, provide much higher level security than has previously existed on memory cards and on most consumer electronics devices. Clearly this is designed to appeal more to content providers than it is to consumers.

‘Cards built on the TrustedFlash platform will provide full digital rights management capabilities, supporting industry security standards such as both symmetric and asymmetric algorithms,’ he said. ‘TrustedFlash cards can be customized to meet any OEM customer’s specific security and digital rights management (DRM) solutions, including integrating their own chosen DRM solution and rights portability across many devices.’

The Stones’ record company said the release would be used to gauge the appeal of the format, which it said could change the way that people view mobile content. However, like SanDisk, it appeared more concerned with rights management.

‘TrustedFlash allows us to digitally offer premium content on flash memory cards in a way that prevents unauthorised distribution,’ said Syd Schwartz, vice president interactive marketing for Virgin Records, ‘We look forward to expanding our grüvi catalog next year with albums from other well-known artists.’

The flash version of A Bigger Bang will be released in November for $40.

TrustedFlash cards include software to enable playback on compatible devices and Windows PCs. In addition to music they will also be able to provide video, games and software. Vacant space on the cards can be used for standard data storage. The technology is available on SD, mini SD, and micro SD cards up to 2GB. The Stones’ A Bigger Bang comes on a 256MB card.

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