Intel developed the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) specification to protect digital entertainment media broadcast across digital interfaces. The vast majority of movie studios and broadcasters support this link encryption standard and have begun switching across to HDCP encrypted content by removing non-HDCP compliant ports from their set top boxes and preventing viewing on non-HDCP supported devices. This is why HDCP Pro matters to the Pro AV market and why it will have a significant impact in the coming years.
The Digital Content Protection organisation, which licenses technologies using HDCP, describes the specification as a means to ‘enable a secure connection to protect copyrighted content when connecting sources (e.g. set top boxes, Internet Delivered Content Devices, DVD, Blu-ray) and “sinks” (display devices with one or more digital interfaces such as HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, MHL, Miracast and others). Common applications are large format displays, desktop monitors and audio equipment on a secure network.
While the HDCP content protection system worked well in a domestic environment, for many years there were too many restrictions for corporate users to be able to access permission from the content provider so that it could be distributed across multiple locations.
However, in 2016, HDCP Pro was introduced to take advantage of the billions of devices already supporting HDCP. Over the past four years, the AV industry has taken full advantage of this opportunity, connecting multiple devices onto commercial AV networks allowing content to be legally transmitted and watched on any connected display.
The HDCP specification was designed to prevent illegal copying of digital media and it secures and encrypts the connection between not just the source and the display but the entire signal path, including cabling. Most commercial content is now 4K, and this is primarily where HDCP Pro is targeted. As a result, if an organisation is using a “sink” device that fails to comply with the standard, the display will show an error message and the attempt to broadcast media content will fail.
To enable commercial content provision, HDCP Pro enables the source device to provide HDCP protected output to an HDCP Pro encoder. This then encodes, encrypts, and distributes the media content across the network to the endpoints, which receive and decrypt the stream and output the content to a display using an HDCP protected HDMI cable.
The onus falls on systems integrators and resellers to ensure that the solutions they are specifying for customers comply with HDCP Pro, and they too need to meet certain requirements.
For the Pro AV Market, HDCP 2.2 will be adequate for a meeting room or for small-scale projects but this comes at a cost in terms of dedicated hardware and network switches with no ability to augment the transmission with appropriate enterprise information. In addition, it is not scalable or manageable for large installations. The chart below provides a useful comparison.
The MediaStar IPTV system has been developed to take legally subscribed, high value, or licensed video content and simultaneously broadcast it efficiently in a compressed, network friendly multicast stream to multiple screens across an IP network using a comprehensive set of management tools.
The MediaStar 798 HDCP Pro enabled encoder will take the protected content from external providers and distribute it to an unlimited number of screens through MediaStar 782 HDCP Pro enabled IPTV Media Players.
AV/IT specifying consultants, design build resellers and systems integrators must inform and educate end customers of several requirements specifically related to the use of HDCP Pro-enabled solutions
With HDCP Pro-compliant encoders and Media Players in place, it is important to ensure that the protected content can be controlled and maximised using a single point of management, regardless of whether it is being distributed to a few people in one location or to thousands in multiple offices. MediaStar Media Manager System Control Software 467 works in tandem with the MediaStar 798 HDCP Pro encoder and 782 HDCP Pro enabled IP Media Players and enables users to administrate content across the IP network.
With full control over the media environment, users can capture, manage, store and display all of their media assets and organise pin-point targeting of content to create maximum impact, confident in the knowledge that they are distributing it legally and securely in compliance with HDCP Pro.