SanDisk puts DRM on flash cards

SanDisk on Tuesday unveiled a flash memory technology called TrustedFlash that integrates DRM.

SanDisk took a step it hopes will transform the mobile media business, unveiling a storage technology called TrustedFlash that integrates digital rights management (DRM) into a flash memory card.

The addition of DRM will motivate providers of music, games, movies and other content to sell those products for mobile phones, either in the form of cards sold at retail stores or as downloadable content that can be transferred to a TrustedFlash card, said Eli Harari, president and chief executive officer of SanDisk. Currently, most content for mobile devices is locked to a particular device, partly because of concerns about piracy.

TrustedFlash will be rolled out in the fourth quarter of this year, Harari said. It is available now to original equipment manufacturers in miniSD, microSD and SD card formats, according to SanDisk. At a news conference Tuesday at the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment show in San Francisco, SanDisk, EMI Group and Virgin Records America announced that a version of the Rolling Stones' album "A Bigger Bang" on a TrustedFlash microSD or miniSD card is set to go on sale in select retail stores in November for US$39.99. It will include band images and links to other Rolling Stones albums that the consumer could buy, Harari said.

SanDisk also showed off a 4G-byte embedded flash memory component with the TrustedFlash technology, to be integrated into mobile phones, music players, personal media players and GPS (Global Positioning System) devices. It takes up less than 4 percent of the space that a microdrive would take up, Harari said.

Consumers will be able to move content on TrustedFlash cards from one mobile device to another because the DRM is built in to the card, Harari said. Depending on the DRM settings defined by the content provider, consumers also will be able to copy the content to a PC hard drive or other storage as backup a certain number of times, the company said.

The format is independent of particular DRM schemes, and the providers of existing DRM technologies, such as Apple Computer, Microsoft and the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), have been invited to integrate their formats into the TrustedFlash format, Harari said.

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