Home » What is HDCP and how to fix HDCP compatibility issues?

What is HDCP and how to fix HDCP compatibility issues?

With the advent of affordable HD contents and higher requirements on video playback quality, more and more consumers are switching to purchase, rent, and view movies and TV shows in 720p and 1080p from the iTunes Store (learn to use iTunes Video Converter). But there is a hitch. The HD contents from iTunes Store have a companion HDCP system that sometimes leaves authorized Windows consumers receiving alert messages like:
"This movie cannot be played because it requires Windows 7 and a display that supports HDCP."
"This movie cannot be played in HD."
"This movie cannot be played in HD on this display."
"To play this movie in HD, you must have a PC with a built-in display or have it connected to a display that supports HDCP."
"To play this movie in HD, you must move the entire window onto a built-in display or a display that supports HDCP."
"To play this movie in HD, your PC must have Windows 7 and a built-in display or a display that supports HDCP."


Why unable to play HD video content that requires HDCP? Apple notes that “In order to purchase, rent, and view HD content from the iTunes Store on your computer, you need to have the latest version of iTunes installed, you can download the latest version here. In addition, you will need to have components that support HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) installed on your computer.” In this article, we’ll review what is HDCP, how does it work and how to fix HDCP compatibility issues.


What is HDCP?
HDCP stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, a form of digital copy protection developed by Intel. It was designed to protect the transfer of high quality, digital content from a video source, such as a computer, satellite television receiver, or DVD player to a receiver such as a television screen or computer monitor. Specially, the technology sought to achieve some degree of copyright protection in audio and video content, such as movies, videos, and television.  


Many video and audio playing devices have the HDCP specification in them. While not all computers are HDCP compatible, some computer manufacturers have turned to HDCP to ensure additional protective measures are in place.  Computers fitted with Windows Vista, for example, typically have the HDCP specification. The HDCP spec can be found in some digital video interfaces (DVIs) - a video interface standard found in display devices such as flat panel LCDs. HDCP can also be found in many monitors, game consoles, Blu-ray players that have high-definition multimedia interfaces (HDMI) as well as monitors and home theater systems that have DisplayPort interfaces.


How does HDCP work?
A simple answer is that an HDCP session will result in the exchange of keys between the source and display device. The source device will query the display to make sure that the equipment is HDCP compliant before video is shown. The source device sends a ping to the display device, much like a submarine might do. If the display device doesn’t return the ping to the source device within that period of time then the signal stops. 


Let’s say you want to watch a high definition DVD on your HDTV. You connect a Blu-ray disc player to the HDTV with a HDMI cable. The instant you start playing the HDCP-encrypted disc is when the authentication process begins. In this scenario, the source device is the Blu-ray player. The HDTV is the display device. If your television is HDCP-compliant then you would see the movie. If it isn’t then you would either get blank screen or an error message.
hd content requires hdcp

What this essentially means is that if you use HDMI or DVI cables then you must have HDCP-compatible components in order to see HDCP-encrypted content.


How to fix HDCP compatibility issues?
The only way to fix HDCP compatibility issues is to either replace the product that doesn’t have HDCP with one that does or stop using the HDMI or DVI cable. Since HDCP is digital-only, it doesn’t affect non-digital cables like RF coaxial, RCA, component, s-video, etc.
what is hdcp

Certified products clearly claim their HDCP compatibility (HDCP Ready), or with the HD Ready stamp.
how hdcp works


What we would like to see developed is a type of dongle or plug that you can stick into your HDMI port that is nothing more than a HDMI/HDCP or DVI/HDCP converter. That could keep all non-HDCP televisions and devices useful with Blu-ray and other HD digital media. 

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