Previously I talked about what HDCP is, and how it does what it does; as well as problems With HDCP, and why big media uses it anyway. This time we’re going to talk about what HDCP means for consumers.
It is currently nigh unto impossible to find anything with an HDCP or DVI cable that doesn’t have HDCP installed in it, so the consumer is either going to have to forego getting their digital TV with HDCP installed, or they’re going to have to put up with HDCP.
If the consumer already has something with an HDMI or DVI port that doesn’t have HDCP, and they buy something with an HDCP enabled HDMI or DVI port, then they cannot use the two together. At best, the HDCP enabled device will only cause HD content to be reduced in resolution. Worst case, even when viewing non-HD content, the consumer won’t be able to get the two to work together at all. If the HDCP compliant device is a source device, it won’t even output full HD content on the analog component source, so you won’t be able to watch an HD movie on your HD TV at all.
Luckily for everyone, the people at COX communication haven’t fallen for the HDCP hype yet, and don’t send out receivers equipped with this idiotic technology. This means that, even if it’s just with the analog component cords, all of their customers will be able to view HD content if they buy the service.
The biggest problem is that even if consumers buy everything to be HDCP enabled, hackers are currently out there hacking device keys for every product on the market. Some of them don’t share this information, but some put it out on the web. Once the central HDCP authority of DCP-LLC (a branch company of Intel) finds out about this, they revoke the device’s HDCP key, meaning that the next time your HDCP compliant gigital tuner equipped TV or cable box receives it’s periodic revocation list update, or the next time your HDCP compliant HD-DVD player or Blueray disk player receives an update on that disk, that device will forever refuse to interact with whichever one of your devices is ruled to be insecure.
That means that digital cable prices go up, because the cable company has to keep replacing leased cable boxes. Your TV will suddenly no longer receive HD content from any of your updated devices. Your TV may suddenly stop showing HD information from one of your compromised source devices. This means, best case, that you have to pay hundreds of dollars to display HDCP content again. Worse case, it means that you have to replace your device, potentially a huge TV, to display anything at all.
And that’s why, in my personal opinion, HDCP not only qualifies as a stupid, selfish, greedy move by big media; it is directly damaging to the consumer, who products are supposed to serve.