Endless disclaimers


Software products have long and complex license agreements. Movies on DVD don’t seem to have any lengthy license, just a warning not to copy or show the movie in public. So why do you only have to agree to the software license once, yet DVDs stick the same warning up there every time you watch a disc?

I’m sure there’s some nuance here that I’m missing. Maybe DVD players can’t store a record of which discs you’ve watched before. Wait, that can’t be it, since my DVD player automatically remembers where I left off when I try to watch an old disc again. So I don’t think technology is the hurdle here.

Current practices aside, whoever makes the decision about a one-time license or disclaimer versus something that appears every time you use a product should be aware of one key point. The more that a person sees something, the more familiar it becomes, and the more likely they are to just ignore it next time. Basically, it’s a ‘cry wolf’ problem. So while it may seem logical to pummel users over and over with a big nasty disclaimer, that process might be making them unwilling to pay attention to such messages in the future.