Widgets Magazine

HDCP Pro and the AV Industry

Editor’s note. There was some misunderstanding on a recent episode of EDTech Episode 51 regarding HDCP 2.2 Pro. This article is an attempt to clear some of that up.
The specification for HDCP 2.2 Pro was first published in May 2016 by the Intel-driven content protection organization DCP, with the idea of providing the audio visual industry and others the opportunity to send protected content to more devices than the consumer HDCP 2.2 limit of 32 devices and four levels of connectivity.
When the original HDCP specification was announced, content creators hailed it as a win for those hoping to protect their content against piracy. But in the world of AV, HDCP was a significant hurdle to deal with. Some developed products with the sole intent of stripping the content protection and provide installers the ability to send content to as many displays as required. In the years before HDCP, integrators had the latitude to send to as many end points as the client wanted through analog distribution systems.
With the introduction of HDCP, the ability to distribute to unlimited displays was not permitted. There were keys that each HDCP-compatible device needed to have in order for the “handshake” to happen and the content to pass through. In simple installations, this was not an issue. When you had multiple displays or a video matrix system the HDCP content sometimes would not pass through to one or more displays.
With HDCP Pro, DCP and their member organizations have gotten together to create a system that works for both the creators wishing to keep their content protected and an industry needing to create systems that distribute that protected content to multiple displays.
HDCP 2.2 Pro starts with the HDCP 2.2 standard. The Pro portion is what actually makes HDCP useful to AV professionals. Yes, there are some extra steps and we’ll get to that.
HDCP Licensed installer. As an integrator, if you want to install an HDCP Pro device you need to be a licensed installer. You do this by contacting DCP and paying a $500 fee. You are then placed on their list of authorized installers. HDCP licensed adopter manufacturers cannot sell you HDCP Pro devices if you are not on this list. Think of it as a way to outmaneuver trunk slammers you are going up against.
There are whitelist facility types the DCP has authorized as approved sites. Most likely your client base is on this list. They include education facilities, hospitals, airports, and shopping centers. The current full list is here. Licensed installers and licensed adopters may petition DCP to add venue types to this list.
The system needs to include HDCP 2.2 Pro repeaters and they substantially relax the topology limits imposed by regular HDCP 2.2 when counting devices on the network. Regardless of whether you’re using HDCP 2.2 or HDCP 2.2 Pro, the network topology switches and routers are not included in the device count. The only devices that are included in the device count are transmitters, video switchers, repeaters, and displays – essentially any devices in the signal path with video ports. With HDCP Pro, an unconstrained number of devices and levels can be accommodated, but the HDCP Pro repeaters need to have their SRM rules updated quarterly, otherwise, they will revert to regular HDCP 2.2 devices until their data is updated.
However, don’t go looking for DCP-based solutions for video conferencing and lecture capture. Since HDCP (regular or Pro) is a “last connection” content protection technology and not a DRM method, in its current form it will never be applicable to recording or wide area distribution.
Overall, HDCP 2.2 Pro seems to be a step in the direction of helping the audio visual industry keep content protected while at the same time creating the exceptional experiences we have become accustomed to. As of this writing, only Biamp and Exterity are licensed adopters in the commercial AV space.
I still remember reading the first HDCP spec. Initially, I found it frightening, as it seemed rather draconian given the measures DCP was going to in order to protect the content. With the help of AV manufacturers, DCP has finally come along and seen the value of allowing a professional solution that protects the content from piracy while at the same time allowing AV professionals to do their job.
As I mentioned in the start of this article, we had a recent podcast where we did not do a good job of transmitting all the information. It will happen again. We’re human but we do the best job. When we do misstep, please feel free to reach out to me and help us get all the information out to the AV community. You can reach me at tim@avnation.tv or my cell: 618-567-6467.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.
For more information about HDCP 2.2 Pro click here.
For a list of HDCP Pro licensed adopters click here.
 

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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