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RFID Certifies Celebrity Collectibles

Systems integrator RFID Ltd. is launching an application utilizing RFID tags to verify the authenticity of Jimi Hendrix's wah-wah pedal, Jessica Biel's autographed photos and other memorabilia.
By Laurie Sullivan
Nov 15, 2006At a private gathering in New York City on Nov. 26, RFID tags will be affixed to Jimi Hendrix's guitar strap from the 1969 Newport Pop Festival, as well as the wah-wah foot pedal he used to enhance the sounds of his guitar. The items will go on display the following day—on what would have been Hendrix's 64th birthday—at BB King's Blues Club. Rock icons Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder are expected to attend the celebration, says Duane "Spyder" Hughes, CEO of recording label Spydo Music, who will help manage the party.

"It's absolutely necessary to apply this technology to music and memorabilia, especially on those belongings from the Hendrix estate, because through the years there have been many fraudulent claims, and we're at a point where you don't know what's real and what's not," Hughes says. "It's helpful for this type of technology to be used with rock, hip-hop and all kinds of music memorabilia."

Actress Jessica Biel
The Ghetto Fighters, a backup group now known as the Fantastic Aleems, recorded several songs with Hendrix prior to his untimely death in September 1970. The group's members own both the guitar strap and the wah-wah pedal, and have agreed to sell these items, along with publishing rights to the songs, to one of the major digital music sites, such as Napster, SpiralFrog or Yahoo! Music.

The bidding for the rights to publish the songs and take ownership of the strap and foot pedal, which began Monday, will last seven days. The idea is to release the songs commercially and link them to a giveaway contest, with the strap and pedal to be offered as prizes. In an effort to promote the music, consumers who purchase and download songs will be entered in the drawing. The giveaway will launch simultaneously with the debut of four unreleased songs in digital format.

The RFID-tagged items are some of the first to become part of an e-pedigree database and certification service offered by Denver-based systems integrator RFID Ltd.. The service is designed to combat piracy in the multibillion-dollar memorabilia industry, according to Nicholas Chavez, the company's president. Chavez, whose company is managing the sale of the Hendrix songs to the music sites, calls the application AuthentiChip.

A few weeks after the Hendrix event, RFID Ltd.'s application will authenticate signed movie production stills in Los Angeles from actress Jessica Biel's latest movie, Home of The Brave. Each photograph will have an RFID label affixed to the back to authenticate the piece.

"We intend to place 10 to 12 authenticated items, associated with the film, on eBay a week or so prior to the release of the film," Biel writes in an e-mail to RFID Journal. "The proceeds will benefit Serving Those Who Serve, which rehabs the houses of returning combat-wounded war veterans."

Biel says she hopes to safeguard her own "brand, and address the blatant counterfeit and knockoff problem that exists on the Web." In addition, she explains, she is intrigued with using the technology to help nonprofits raise money at live auctions.

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