Guest Post: John Wang, IAdea
Is your digital signage network on the right side of copy protection laws?
HDCP is a digital copy protection technology that is used widely by content providers. Subscription-based live video feeds received with set-top boxes are often encoded with and protected by HDCP, the acronym for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection.
Playing such content as part of your digital signage network requires using devices that have been certified for compliance. However, many low-cost media players on the market have not obtained such status, and are sold illegally with the unlicensed capability to play protected content.
If you are an advertising network operator or a guest entertainment system integrator, using a non-HDCP media player to play protected content may get you in legal trouble.
HDCP-compliant devices fall into three categories:
- Source is a device that produces protected video signal, such as a satellite receiver;
- Sink is one that receives the protected signal and displays it, such as a monitor;
- Repeater is the most complex form of a HDCP device, as it both receives and sends HDCP-protected content. If your digital signage media player takes an external video input from a DVD player or satellite receiver box, and provides a video output to a screen, as is in the typical scenario of showing live TV and managed as digital signage, then your media player must be certified as an HDCP repeater device.
Making an HDCP repeater requires significantly more engineering than the simple source or sink device. The repeater needs to process the HDCP protocol, keep track of how many external devices are connected to the repeater, and ensuring that if the number of connected devices exceed the limit set by the content licensor, video output is properly cut off.
It also requires expensive equipment for development, and involves a more costly process to obtain certification status. As a result, for the sake of costing down, most digital signage media players are not properly certified, and therefore illegal to be deployed in a digital signage network.
To confirm whether your digital signage vendor is certified by HDCP, look it up on the official HDCP status website at http://digital-cp.com/licensee-list.
However, that does not ensure your particular media player model is certified as a HDCP repeater. To confirm that, you will need to request for a copy of the HDCP repeater certificate directly from your vendor. These steps will help ensure your digital signage network is properly set up for playing licensed digital content.
Note: The writer’s firm manufactures and markets an HDCP repeater.