SD cards for SeeQVault DRM standard coming soon from Toshiba

Toshiba, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic intend SeeQVault to control the use and copying of HD content stored on flash memory

Toshiba will soon begin shipping flash memory cards that support the new SeeQVault mobile DRM standard it is backing with Samsung Electronics, Sony and Panasonic.

The new specification, officially launched Monday, binds content to the medium it is stored on, as opposed to the device on which it is viewed. The four tech giants behind the "Next Generation Secure Memory Initiative" said it will target device makers, memory manufacturers and owners of digital content.

SeeQVault is an attempt to create an industry-wide DRM standard for mobile devices that links high-definition movies and other content to flash. Its philosophy is closer to older DRM standards, such as those used on DVDs that can be viewed on a broad range of hardware, than more recent methods like the one employed by iTunes, which keeps track of specific devices.

The group said it envisions scenarios such as flash memory pre-loaded with movies sold in retail stores, online download and rental services that store videos directly to memory cards, and movie vending machines that can copy protected content to users' flash storage. The content stored on memory cards could then be viewed on any compatible mobile phone, tablet or other device, but not copied to other memory.

Toshiba said it will begin shipping samples of 16GB and 32GB memory cards that support SeeQVault in March, with full production set to begin sometime this year.

The standard is being sold as a intermediate measure until mobile networks and devices can support downloading content on demand.

"It is often expected that cloud-based streaming service will be the future of content distribution. However, it is not likely to happen at least for a few years for mobile devices, especially for HD-quality content. In this case, a secure download service can be a good complementary to streaming services," the group said in a white paper released last year.

The content, storage and device used must all employ the standard for it to work. The companies behind it cover these categories -- all four make their own mobile devices, Sony has major movie and music holdings, and Samsung and Toshiba together have about 70 percent of the global NAND flash market.

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Jay Alabaster

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