Information and reasoning around HDCP compatibility.

Document created by gman on Apr 15, 2016
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We sometimes hear questions and requests such as "I want to use an HDMI, DVI, or DisplayPort source which requires HDCP compliancy", or "I can't get my BluRay player to work with your Lifesize endpoint" or something simply along the lines of "What is HDCP and why does it matter?"


High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is a copy protection system designed to prevent the copying of HD video and audio where the owner of that video has opted to protect it.


The short answer is that we do not support HDCP on any endpoints, and will not be adding this functionality.


The reasoning is that it's not possible to support HDCP with standards-based video conferencing; part of the requirement to be an HDCP compliant Sink (or Repeater) is to be able to guarantee to the HDCP Source that you will honour the HDCP restrictions in displaying the content (for sinks) or only pass on the content according to the HDCP restrictions to another HDCP compliant device (for repeaters).


Since we have no control over what happens to the (HD) video once it's transmitted by our endpoint to the far side, we can't guarantee that the far end system is HDCP compliant too and that it won't be used for circumvention of copy protection.  This means that we can't be HDCP compliant.


The HDCP standard though is written in such a way as this shouldn't be a problem in most circumstances.


Anything which is (properly) HDCP compliant that is connected to the codec will ask the codec during the initial handshaking process if it is HDCP compliant too, and when we don't answer in the affirmative, the third party device should understand that means we're not.


The decision on whether to send in HD, or downscaled to SD, is then down to the content owner. For example, most BluRays will play back in 1080p HD on an HDCP compliant TV, but will only play back in 480p SD on a non-HDCP TV. This is a decision made by the disc producer (copyright holder) and implemented by the HDCP system in the BluRay player.


So, assuming the source device adheres correctly to the HDCP standard, your own material (such as a PC or promo video on BluRay etc) should play fine in HD, and any commercially produced material will likely play in SD at 480p, which is supported by our endpoints.


Problems can arise with devices with poorly implemented HDCP.


We have seen some devices, such as HDMI/DVI matrices and BluRay players which refuse to send any video to a non-HDCP sink device. This is not a bug or flaw in the Lifesize endpoint, this is a flaw or misconfiguration with the HDCP source device and unfortunately needs to be addressed with that hardwares vendor as we can't bypass that HDCP requirement.


In some jurisdictions, HDCP strippers such as the HD Fury are a good solution, but before purchasing or using one, you would need to check the legislation in your region as it can be considered a tool to circumvent copyright.