“The Tea Party Patriots are doing what Americans are supposed to do,” said Robert Leming, who directs his group’s “We The People” program. “What that should do is encourage others of a different point of view to do the same thing.”

The current leader of the National Center for Constitutional Studies, Zeldon Nelson, met Skousen in the mid-1980s, when the author was raising money for his latest book, “The Making of America.” Nelson said he took over amid financial difficulties after sales-damaging criticism of the book, including from then-California Republican Gov. George Deukmejian, for its characterization of slavery.

Asked if the Tea Party Patriots’ push is helping sales, Nelson responded, “I would have to say, probably no.” But he anticipates business could pick up closer to Constitution Week.

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Today, there’s a question over whether Nelson has a right to distribute the BYU-produced materials. And further complicating matters is an acrimonious lawsuit between Skousen’s adult children and Nelson over rights to Skousen’s work.

Three years ago, BYU canceled a longstanding licensing agreement with Nelson because he wasn’t paying royalties.

“They didn’t send in reports for some years,” said Giovanni Tata, director of BYU’s copyright department in Provo, Utah.

Nelson, who estimates he has shipped out 500,000 copies of the movie since 1991, contacted BYU last week in a bid to resolve the matter following an Associated Press inquiry, Tata confirmed.

Meanwhile, Skousen’s sons are fighting Nelson in federal court in Utah after enlisting Glenn Beck to write a new preface for the “The 5,000 Year Leap.” After that, Tea Party adherents pushed the book to No. 1 on Amazon.com’s sales charts in 2009.