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Online peddlers sell advance tapes of the Ricky Martin TV special

But CBS takes steps to stop early viewing of the Nov. 26 show

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Ricky Martin
Kevin Mazur

CBS executives should be living la vida loca, knowing that they’re about to air the first-ever Ricky Martin special on Nov. 26. Instead, they’re just going loco.

Two anonymous peddlers posted advance video copies of the special for sale on eBay, the online auction house. Such tapes are distributed to reporters for review purposes and are typically labeled with the warning ”on background only” or ”not for broadcast.”

The eye network was able to block the public sale of one tape out of Seattle, Wash., by snatching it in the auction’s final seconds Tuesday for $305 (bids started at around $3). ”It’s our tape and we wanted it back,” says CBS spokesman Chris Ender.

Since then, another advance copy of the hour-long special surfaced on eBay, this time from a seller out of New Jersey. Buyers have until Saturday before the auction closes, but CBS hopes it won’t have to crack open the checkbook again to stop its distribution. ”Our lawyers are in touch with attorneys at eBay to discuss how we can prevent such unauthorized marketing of our copyright material,” said Ender.

It doesn’t look as if CBS will face much opposition. eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove says the company remains sensitive to the sale of intellectual property and will yank items if necessary. ”If anybody believes there is legal infringement,” he says, ”we will act as fast as we possibly can.”

In the meantime, CBS’ crafty decision to buy the first tape also gave the network the upper hand in identifying the perpetrator. The seller had to notify the eye network via e-mail to reveal his or her identity and give a location to send the $305 check.