Livin’ la vida lawsuit?

Ebay vid sales raise CBS' ire

Jonesing for a sneak peak of CBS’ upcoming Ricky Martin special? The address is eBay.com.

But probably not for long. Eye execs recently discovered at least two sellers on eBay, a popular online auction site, trying to unload video copies of “Ricky Martin: One Night Only” meant for press viewing.

Those sellers, however, may soon be livin’ la vida lawsuit. According to CBS, it owns those tapes, which are loaned to TV reviewers (who in practice rarely return them).

“CBS lawyers are in touch with attorneys at eBay to figure out how we can prevent such unauthorized sales of our copyrighted property,” a CBS spokesman said. The network has yet to decide whether it will take legal action against the sellers.

The tape sales first came to the attention of CBS when an unidentified seller in Seattle, who goes under the screen name poppstarz, put a copy of the Ricky Martin screener on eBay on Nov. 11.

Poppstarz hyped the item this way: “This is an advance VHS copy of the Ricky Martin TV special that’s set to air on Nov. 26 on CBS. Can’t wait to see it? Want a commercial-free tape direct from the network? Here you go. It was sent to press to promote the show and includes a release describing what’s on tape.”

Acting on behalf of CBS, an employee started bidding on the tape in order to uncover the seller’s identity. When the auction closed Tuesday, the CBS employee won the auction with the high bid of $305.

“It’s our tape,” the CBS spokesman said. “We wanted it back.”

Eye on sellers

Poppstarz may soon find himself or herself in a deep pile of menudo. CBS knows the identity of the culprit, but was awaiting shipment of the tape before determining whether to take legal action.

Meanwhile, another seller, this one based in New Jersey and using the screen name blackadder!, also has put a copy of the CBS special up for bid. The net has yet to make a bid on blackadder!’s tape.

“This video is extra special in that it’s just over 45 minutes long, and there are NO COMMERCIALS!” the seller’s description reads. “And remember, the TV special HAS NOT BEEN BROADCAST!”

This auction doesn’t expire until Saturday at 6:23 p.m. As of midday Thursday, the highest bid was $20.50, from someone whose screen name is tcruice.

TV screeners are a staple on eBay. Other sales currently under way at the site include “Ally McBeal,” “Touched by an Angel” and “The X-Files” tapes packaged for Emmy consideration.

“Ricky Martin: One Night Only” features Martin singing “The Cup of Life,” “She’s All I Ever Had” and, of course, “Livin’ la Vida Loca.” The concert, taped at New Jersey’s Liberty State Park, also includes appearances by Carlos Santana and Jose Feliciano.

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