High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) was developed over 15 years ago as a tool for preventing digital piracy.
It is engineered right into our HDMI cables and devices like HDTVs, Blu-Ray players, game consoles, and internet TV boxes.
The way it is supposed to work is that two HDMI HDCP compliant devices, like a Roku and HDTV, first share a digital license key.
Next, if the keys match then the video is encrypted and sent from the Roku to the HDTV. The HDTV can then display the video.
If the keys do not match, the video is never sent to the next HDMI HDCP compliant device. If the next device is an HDTV, it will play the audio but display a HDCP error.
Most consumers are not aware of HDCP until there is an error or problem when they are trying to view perfectly legal content. In my case it was watching Netflix.
I tried all the methods recommended officially to stop the HDCP errors. Swapping HDMI cables, flipping the cable, restarting devices did not work for me or were short lived. I did, however, finally stop all my HDCP errors.
I want to share with you how to easily connect your home theater so you will never have an HDCP error again.
My First HDMI HDCP Compliant Problem
The week before last, I reconfigured our home theater setup to include an HDMI switch. I had three HDMI devices and only two HDMI inputs on our older HDTV.
The change was awesome because I no longer had to fumble around with and swap HDMI cables behind my HDTV.
I wrote a post about adding the switch to my setup. Here is the post, "No More Empty HDMI ports? You need an HDMI Switch Box."
After a couple weeks, I began to occasionally get an HDMI HDCP compliant error on my Roku 3 that said, "HDCP unauthorized. Content disabled".
Next, I began to have a similar error on my Apple TV that said, "This content requires HDCP for playback."
The errors would occur primarily when trying to watch our favorite shows on Netflix.
At first the errors were a minor inconvenience I hoped would go away. The error did not go away so I began to investigate a solution to end my HDMI HDCP compliant errors.
What Caused My HDMI HDCP Compliant Error?
I recently changed my home theater setup dramatically . I originally had two internet TV boxes plugged into separate HDMI inputs with different HDMI cables.
My new configuration had three different internet TV boxes plugged into three separate HDMI inputs on an HDMI switch box. The HDMI switch box then plugged into one HDMI input on my older HDTV.
My older HDTV had trouble dealing with the changing HDCP license keys sent from the new HDMI switch.
There is nothing unethical or wrong about connecting my equipment in this way with my older HDTV! Once I identified what was causing the problem I developed a cheap easy solution.
The Solution for Your HDCP Problem
The cheapest and easiest way to solve my HDCP problem was to purchase and connect an inexpensive HDMI splitter inline from my HDMI switch to the HDTV.
I am not using the splitter for it's intended purpose. I am not splitting the HDMI signal from my internet TV boxes into two HDMI cables. I have one HDMI input to the splitter and one HDMI output from the splitter.
The HDMI splitter I selected works by simply ignoring all HDCP license key requests.
The funny thing about the splitter is that it claims to be HDCP compliant. It actually just allows the video to pass to the HDTV without any HDCP verification.
The setup that works for me looks like the following diagram.
The HDMI splitter I successfully use in my setup is the IO Crest Mini 2-Port HDMI Splitter.
The IO Crest splitter does require power from a wall outlet and has a AC adapter that needs extra space for the plug. There are two bright red leds on the input side and one bright red led on the output side of the splitter.
I covered the leds up with a small piece of black electrical tape. There is also a bright blue led on the AC adapter that I covered up with tape as well.
Another splitter that many people successfully use is the ViewHD Mini 2-Port HDMI Splitter. It works exactly the same way and looks identical to the IO Crest Mini splitter I use. Check out the similarities below.
The two splitters most likely are manufactured in the same facility in China and rebranded for the two different companies. A quick search on amazon.com reveals many of these mini 2-port HDMI splitters that all look identical except for the printed branding on the device.
If you are plagued with HDMI HDCP compliant errors from your internet TV boxes, you do not have to deal with them anymore.
Stop swapping HDMI cables, unplugging and replugging cables , flipping cables, and waiting for devices to restart. You will never find a long term fix using those official methods to fix your HDMI HDCP compliant errors.
Connect an HDMI splitter in your home theater and enjoy your internet TV box the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
If you have a question about how best to connect your HDMI home theater, please ask in the Comments section below.
Some of the materials listed above contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase one of them, I will receive a small percentage of that sale, at no added cost to you, for the referral. For more information, see our Disclosures page.