As far as MSCHF projects go, it seems that the masterWiki falls more in the category of “for the lulz.” A spokesperson for the group told Gizmodo that MasterClass isn’t involved in any stealth promotion here in any way. MasterClass didn’t immediately return a request for comment, so it’s unclear how the company feels about having its content, to use MSCHF’s phrase, “stolen.”
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The legality of this project seems shakey and there are a lot of factors involved. Sportswriters are welcome to recap what happened in a pricey UFC pay-per-view special, leading one to believe that this kind of thing would, in theory, be okay. Then there’s the issue of using celebrities’ likenesses, but at the same time, MSCHF isn’t directly selling anything on this particular site.
Another factor that might come into play is that MSCHF adds some critical commentary here and there, like its noting of Anna Wintour’s poor record on diversity in hiring while relaying her advice for being a good boss.
If MSCHF hopes that a parody and commentary defense leaves them in the clear with regards to any legal action, it picked a time when MasterClass’s big promises of technical instruction have come under criticism for being mostly empty. Just today, The Atlantic published a deep dive on the company asking, “What Is MasterClass Actually Selling?” It seems that record unemployment coupled with the need for continuing adult education has people suddenly asking if the streaming service is being misleading in its basic pitch.
I received a MasterClass subscription last year as a gift, and I enjoyed it. I’d agree that it’s more like an expensive podcasting network than an instructional selection of coursework. That was fine for me, but there could certainly be people out there who are feeling ripped off.
For me, I just like the anarchic attitude and high concept approach that recalls ‘10s-era projects like K-Hole and Dis Magazine. I like the damn-the-consequences vibe that used to be all over the internet. These days, it’s risky to even embed a social media post without facing the wrath of the copyright cops. To build this blog post, I had to get permission from MSCHF to screenshot images of “stolen” content that cribs the house art style of WikiHow, and
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