updated 9/28/2005 11:59:04 AM ET 2005-09-28T15:59:04

Virgin Records said Tuesday it would release the Rolling Stones' latest album on a new encrypted flash memory card that will allow users to preview and buy locked tracks from four of the veteran rockers' previous albums.

The memory card, dubbed Gruvi, is manufactured by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based SanDisk Corp., and will be available in November at select U.S. stores for $39.95, SanDisk and the label said in a statement.

By comparison, the Stones' latest album, "A Bigger Bang," costs about $14 on CD.

SanDisk spokesman Ken Castle said the value for consumers is in being able to use the thumbnail-sized memory card to move music and other media between compatible mobile phones, electronic organizers, computers and other devices.

To keep that content from ending up on Internet file-swapping sites or otherwise distributed without permission, the card comes with copy-protection technology, or firmware, built in.

"You can take the card out and transfer it to other devices and the content stays locked in the card rather than to the device," Castle said.

The cost to buy individual tracks from the four Stones albums loaded on the memory card — "Some Girls," "Tattoo You," Exile on Main Street," and "Sticky Fingers," — was not disclosed.

But tracks on the card — even those from "A Bigger Bang" or any unlocked after purchase — cannot be copied to a PC hard drive, Castle said. A card reader-equipped laptop or desktop computer would be required to play the tracks, he said.

Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, said placing copy-protection technology on the SanDisk card didn't make sense because fans can already find the content online for free, so the copy restrictions only end up inconveniencing the customer who paid for the card.

Last year, Virgin label parent EMI Music released music and video content by British singer Robbie Williams on another type of memory card for mobile phones.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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