Moments ago, I participated in surprise conference call with Tumblr staff members. They have indicated to me that they continue to take issue with Missing e even with the removal of usage of the Tumblr API.

They interpret the Tumblr API License Agreement in such a way as it continues to apply…

Every time I start thinking about developing things for Tumblr, I reach the conclusion that Tumblr doesn’t want me to. They talk a good game about APIs and developer support. But their API is poorly documented and incomplete. And then there’s this. Cutler’s Missing E Extension is the biggest improvement made to Tumblr in the past year. And those in charge of Tumblr want it shut down.

When it comes to the API, that’s Tumblr’s platform and they get to choose who can play. I may not agree with their choices, but I respect their rights over what happens on their system.

Browser extensions are a different story. They run in my browser, on my computer, altering content that resides on my hard drive and in my RAM. My computer is my platform, and I get to choose who can play.

When you create a work, you have the right to distribute it however you want. If you give me a copy, I cannot redistribute it without your permission. But within my home, for my own use, I can do whatever I want with it. That’s not just the way it should be, it’s how courts have interpreted copyright law. In fact, that’s the way it has to be: If you don’t have the right to interpret and modify the content of a web page when it’s sent to your computer, then you don’t have the right to use a web browser.

So Tumblr’s objection to the Missing E Extension is bullshit. It would be interesting to take a tour of their office and see how many of their employees are using extensions that modify Google, Amazon, Twitter, etc. I suspect there’s a few.

Still, I’ll understand if Cutler decides to pull the plug. Dude loves the Tumblr community. From a practical standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to stubbornly insist on developing for a platform if it gets you kicked off that platform.

For me, I’ve forked the code on Github, and I recommend any other developer types do the same. We may not be able to distribute it (without getting into a legal fight), but we can make sure the code stays out there, and anybody who wants it can get it. As it should be.