Are you having trouble streaming your favorite movies or TV shows using your new Roku or Amazon Fire Stick? While there could be a dozen reasons why your streaming device is acting this way, the most obvious reason would be that your TV is not HDCP compliant.
If you’re scratching your head wondering “what is HDCP?” and “does my TV support HDCP?” you’ve come to the right place to get answers.
In this article, we take a look at what makes a TV HDCP-compliant, what happens if your TV isn’t HDCP-compliant, and what you can do to fix a non-HDCP-compliant TV. Keep scrolling for more details.
What is HDCP?
Piracy has had a long-standing history in the digital content industry. Today, plenty of people still take advantage of vulnerabilities in digital protection and proceed to pirate digital content.
To keep the issue from worsening, Intel created a digital protection system known as the HDCP.
HDCP stands for “High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection” and is designed to prevent inappropriate duplication of digital video content. This system provides display devices with an encrypted connection to communicate and receive data so no third-party device can interfere on any end.
How Does HDCP Work?
An HDCP license is provided to devices that have been registered to the HDCP controlling body, Intel’s subsidiary Digital Content Protection LLC.
To watch content that is HDCP-protected, all devices involved in the exchange (source and display) need to be HDCP-approved.
There are three (3) main types of HDCP-protected devices: sinks, sources, and repeaters. The HDCP protocol protects data as it is communicated between two devices that are connected using an HDMI cable or other digital interfaces accepted by the HDCP system.
Depending on the device, the number of HDCP transmitters contained within may vary. For most HDMI cables, transmitters are combined into a single chip.
Does My TV Support HDCP?
If you’re in the market for a new TV, choosing one that’s HDCP compliant will give you more flexibility in terms of the content you watch. Not all TV manufacturers register their devices with the Digital Content Protection LLC.
To make sure that the product you’re buying supports HDCP, here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Check your TV box and look for the HDCP label. TV manufacturers who register with Intel receive a license number that’s typically printed on the box. You may also find this in the user’s manual/guide.
Step 2: If you don’t find any HDCP license numbers on your TV box or in its manual, the next step is to call the manufacturer’s customer support hotline. Ask them whether your TV is HDCP compliant.
Step 3: Try plugging an HDCP-compliant device into your TV. If the image is clear and the audio is good, then your device is HDCP compliant. However, if the image appears fuzzy, then your TV might not support HDCP.
What Happens if My TV is not HDCP Compliant?
Most content nowadays is protected by HDCP regulations. So, if you use any non-HDCP-compliant device to stream or watch video content, you’ll most likely be greeted with an “ERROR: NON-HDCP OUTPUT” message on-screen.
Is There a Way to Make My TV HDCP Compliant?
Let’s face it — not everybody has the resources to buy a brand new TV. And if you’ve been given a second-hand TV set by a family member or friend, chances are it won’t be HDCP-compliant.
HDCP only came out in 2004, so models made before this year may not have the proper licenses to support HDCP-protected content.
All that said, HDCP protection is not a solid protocol. There are still vulnerabilities in its design that allow pirates to illegally copy and replicate digital content.
Now, you might be wondering, “What vulnerabilities are we talking about?”
All you need to override the HDCP protocol is a cheap HDMI splitter that ignores the HDCP system, which you can get from any AV supply store.
How Do I Use an HDMI Splitter to Override HDCP Restrictions?
Using an HDMI splitter to override HDCP restrictions is fairly simple. You just take the splitter and place it between your source and your display device.
Let’s give you a quick example:
You bought a new Chromecast and you want to plug it into an old TV set you’ve had lying around for years.
Instead of plugging your Chromecast directly into your TV HDMI port, you plug it into the splitter first. After, you take your HDMI cord and plug it into the other side of the splitter.
Once both your Chromecast and HDMI cord are secured on the splitter, take the other end of the HDMI cord and plug it into your computer monitor. Turn on the power supply and it should show you Chromecast’s homepage.
You can do this with other devices as well, not just TVs.
Does HDCP Prevent Digital Content Piracy?
To an extent, HDCP can help mitigate the copying and replication of digital content. However, it isn’t always effective.
As we mentioned, there are still ways users can override the protocol and illegally copy videos, music, and software.
So, Why Do People Still Use HDCP?
Plenty of users who are doing non-illegal things, like connecting a Blu-ray player to an old TV, are hindered by the HDCP protocol — which can be incredibly annoying and upsetting. So, why do manufacturers still use it?
The truth is nobody wants to answer for the exorbitant costs of getting caught not following digital protection regulations. In other words, TV manufacturers are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Not all audio/video devices are HDCP-protected. However, the majority of them are.
If you don’t want to get caught in the middle of an ERROR: NON-HDCP OUTPUT message, the best way is to make sure that your display or source device is HDCP compliant.
To do this, check the labels on the digital products you’re buying. Make sure they provide their HDCP license number on either the box or the user’s manual.
If it isn’t on either of those, you can contact the manufacturer’s customer support line to ask.
Finally, you don’t need to buy a brand new TV to stream HDCP-protected content. Simply buy an HDMI splitter that ignores the HDCP protocol online and plug it between your source and output devices and you’re good to go!
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.