Every digital medium needs copyright protection; however, the process is not easy. Media companies use different ways to prevent unauthorized access to their protected data, and one such method is HDCP.
Large media houses use HDCP as the standard to protect their critical and expensive media content. Let’s get into HDCP’s details and what you need to do to watch HDCP-protected content.
Table of Contents
- What is HDCP?
- How does HDCP work?
- HDCP compatible devices:
- HDCP compatible cables:
- How to fix HDCP errors:
What is HDCP?
HDCP stands for high-bandwidth digital content protection and is a digital copy protection that prevents users from copying digital copyrighted audio/video content while it crosses various connections.
Devices like Blu-ray players or cable boxes scramble video content before sending it to your television.
If you want to receive these signals, the content must be descrambled, which the TV does by exchanging codes with players.
So, if you want to watch any motion picture, your devices must comply with HDCP. The requirement is not only confined to TVs and movie players.
If you use a non-compliant splitter, wireless transmitter, tuner or audio-video receiver in a complex home theater system, it won’t support HDCP.
You must know that HDCP becomes essential only when the TV programs come from a company that uses this protection.
Most companies, including Sony, Disney, Warner, etc., have already incorporated HDCP into their content.
You must have the right equipment to watch shows from these companies; otherwise, you will see an arrow message or a blank screen.
How does HDCP work?
All HDCP-compatible devices have a particular set of encryption keys that these devices exchange while trying to transmit HDCP-protected content between two devices.
These encryption keys confirm that both exchanging devices are HDCP compliant and encrypt the content during transmission.
The content is again decrypted before it reaches another end. As a result, no one can attack the content and the signals during transit.
Earlier, HDCP supported only devices to display the transmission of protected content; however, after HDCP 2.0, all its versions also supported network transmission.
As a result, it is possible to connect different HDCP devices with different networking hardware, such as routers, switches, and repeaters.
However, all networked systems must support the same HDCP standards for successful transmission in these device-to-device connections.
HDCP compatible devices:
A device becomes HDCP compliant if its manufacturer has a license from Digital Content Protection, an Intel Subsidiary that handles the licensing process of HDCP.
The devices must meet the standards and specifications to receive a license from the company.
Also, the device manufacturer pays an annual license fee and promises not to transmit any HDCP-protected content to non-HDCP-compliant devices.
As several big media houses support HDCP, getting the license for all source devices and display becomes mandatory.
You can check whether your device is HDCP compliant by its specifications in the manual or on the manufacturer’s website.
Alternatively, the feature has become so common that you may find it on the device box.
HDCP compatible cables:
HDCP is a digital technology that depends on HDMI and DVI cables. Thus, acronyms such as HDMI/HDCP or DVI/HDCP are often grouped.
HDCP-compliant HDMI cable:
HDMI/ High Definition Multimedia Interface is a digital interface allowing your HDTV to deliver the best possible digital picture in uncompressed form.
HDMI was created by the electronic industry giants, including Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, Matsushita, and Thomson; thus, it has vast support for the motion picture industry.
DVI/Digital Visual Interface is an older interface for digital pictures developed by the Digital Display Working Group. With the introduction of HDMI, DVI has become obsolete due to the advantages of HDMI over DVI.
The significant benefits of HDMI over DVI are:
- With HDMI, it is possible to send audio/video signals in one cable, while DVI only sends video, and you need a separate cable for audio signals.
- HDMI sends signals faster than DVI.
Is HDCP compliant HDMI cable essential?
There is nothing like HDCP-compliant cable, as HDCP compliance only applies to the devices. In other words, all HDMI cables available are HDCP compliant.
You may see HDCP labels on some HDMI cables, but this is only for advertisement. You can use any HDMI cable to connect two HDCP-compliant devices.
It’s a device that has embedded HDCP technology. HDMI connector pins have nothing to do with HDCP as they do not have any design that can detect or transmit HDCP.
The only feature you must consider while choosing HDMI cable is the high-speed certification.
You should Choose Specific HDMI cables For HDCP 2.2 version
A decade ago, in Feb 2013, another version of HDCP. i.e., HDCP 2.2 was introduced to protect 4K UHD media during HDMI transmissions.
The version is not backward compatible, so you will need a device that supports HDCP 2.2 version as supported by the transmitting device to display 4K content.
An important consideration with the HDCP 2.2 version is that it is incompatible with regular HDMI cables like earlier.
These cables only support 720p pixels and 1080i max transfer resolutions.
You need high-speed HDMI cables for transmitting data in HDCP 2.2-compliant devices for smooth transmission.
HDCP-compliant cable—HDMI cable
How to fix HDCP errors:
Following these instructions will resolve the problem.
Replace the hardware:
You must have HDCP devices to transmit HDCP-protected content smoothly. If the problem lies in any middle device, replacing the hardware will do the job without significant costs.
However, replacement costs may increase if the issue lies in the TV.
Reconnect loose cables
If you know that your television is HDCP compliant but still see the non-compliant warning, the problem may be loose cables. Before you replace parts or call a technician:
- Check HDMI/DVI cables.
- Disconnect the cables and reconnect them firmly again.
- Restart the system.
Fix handshake issues:
Sometimes, the video devices do not complete the HDCP handshake process, which ultimately affects your TV or movie viewing experience.
The equipment is required to initially exchange different sets of codes to work correctly in such cases. You can rectify this problem by turning on the devices in a different sequence.
Switch on your TV first of all. After that, power any audio/video receivers and turn on the movie players or set-top boxes. Always wait for a few seconds after activating each device.
Replace any non-compliant devices.
If you watch copyrighted 4K UHD content, you may face a problem even after using HDCP-compliant devices because 4K content uses high video resolutions protected by HDCP 2.2 version.
TV and other devices for earlier editions cannot play 4K videos. You cannot set entertainment sets to HDCP 2.2, so you must replace any non-compliant devices to enjoy 4K content on your TV.
The new version also affects digital audio devices and soundbars; thus, every HDMI-connected device must support the HDCP version.
Bypass the HDCP:
Use component cables
Sometimes, you may experience that your old HDMI TVs do not display some satellite channels because some channels use HDCP to protect their shows from copying.
A few examples include Disney channels and HBO. You can avoid this issue by changing your television or using components instead of HDMI/DVI cables.
The HDCP protection works in digital HDMI and DVI connections only. Component cables support analog video signals, and hence they bypass HDCP.
However, component video cables have a very low maximum resolution, so you must compromise with the picture quality while watching protected shows and channels.
The quality may not create a major difference in small TVs, but the difference becomes huge on larger screens.
Insert an HDMI splitter:
An HDMI splitter creates a way that does not bother about HDCP error and ignores it by placing itself between the input and output devices.
Let’s understand this with an example.
Suppose you want to connect Chromecast to your TV but fail due to HDCP errors.
In this situation, connect the Chromecast to the splitter’s input port and use a different HDMI cable to connect the splitter’s output port to the TV’s HDMI port.
When the Chromecast sends the HDCP request, the splitter stops it from reaching the output, such as a TV or Blu-Ray player.
Use an alternative setup:
You can use a wireless device like an AirPlay or iPad to sidestep HDCP hardware completely.
For now, HDCP has become a leading tool for media companies to protect their content from illicit copying. Thus, it would be best to stay updated to avoid TV and movie interruptions.
Also, invest in high-quality and high-speed HDMI cables for smooth transmission. For HDMI cables, contact Cloom, who has the best HDMI and other cables for your use.