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Judge Extends Order Blocking Sale of Malcolm X Diaries

On Friday, attorneys for the heirs of Malcolm X told a federal court in Manhattan that The Diary of Malcolm X was available for sale online, in violation of the court’s November 8th temporary restraining order blocking sales of the work. Judge Laura Taylor Swain wasted no time, warning the defendant that it could be held in contempt of court if it disregards her order, and extending the order blocking the sale of the book until a court hearing in January, according to the Associated Press.

The Diary of Malcolm X, which was scheduled to be published earlier this month by Chicago-based Third World Press, is based on journals written by Malcolm X in 1964 as he traveled to the Middle East and Africa. Those journals have been on loan from the civil rights leader’s estate, X Legacy, to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center since 2003. X Legacy had filed a copyright infringement suit earlier this month asserting that it had the sole right to publish his diaries.

According to the complaint, “TWP continues to act as if it’s entitled to exploit intellectual property it does not own.” The filing also says X Legacy plans to publish the diaries in February 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination.

In early November, Daily News quoted Bennett Johnson, Third World’s vice president, as saying his company has the right to publish the diaries. One of Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz cooperated with Third World and is listed as an editor on the book, but the suit alleges she signed away her rights to her father’s estate in 2011.