HDCP Error: What It Is and How to Fix One

What 'Error: Non-HDCP Output' and 'HDCP Error' messages mean

High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is an anti-piracy protocol that some HDMI devices honor. It's a cable standard that's put into place to prevent piracy. It can, however, interrupt signals even in otherwise innocuous situations.

For example, hook up a Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV to an HDTV that is too old to follow the standard that these new HDMI devices are a part of. Since there's a device in the way that is not HDCP compliant, you might get an error like:

  • ERROR: NON-HDCP OUTPUT
  • HDCP ERROR

However, given the way the HDCP standard works, you may be able to bypass this problem.

This information applies to televisions from a variety of manufacturers, including, but not limited to, those made by LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.

A second-generation Chromecast dongle
Y2kcrazyjoker4 / CC BY 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Causes of HDCP Errors

HDCP is a type of Digital Rights Management encoding intended to prevent piracy by providing an encrypted tunnel between an output device (like the Blu-ray player or Chromecast) and the receiving end (for example, the HDTV or media center).

Just as DRM stops someone from sharing downloaded movies from iTunes unless the computer playing it has been authorized by the account that bought it, HDCP devices only work if other cables and devices within the setup are also HDCP compliant. In theory, you cannot insert a recording device between the Blu-ray player or Chromecast to make an illicit copy of the content.

In other words, if one device or cable isn't HDCP compliant, you get an HDCP error. This is true for cable boxes, the Roku Streaming Stick, audio-video receivers, and other modern high-def devices or players that interface with those devices.

How to Fix HDCP Errors

In general, you must either replace the hardware or use a special splitter. However, if your goal is to watch content, alternative sourcing methods might work, too.

  1. Replace the hardware. The devices and cables must be HDCP compliant. If the problem is a cable or an intermediary device that you don't use often or is cheaply replaced, then replacing the hardware solves the problem. If the problem relates to a major investment—like an old TV—then your costs correspondingly increase.

  2. Insert an HDMI splitter. A splitter that ignores HDCP requests creates a pathway that's immune to this error. Position the splitter between the output and input device. For example, if a Chromecast can't connect to a TV because of HDCP errors, connect the Chromecast to the input port of the splitter and run a different HDMI cable from the splitter's output port into the TV's HDMI slot.

    The request for the HDCP device (the TV, Blu-ray player, or another device) is no longer transferred from the sender (in this case, the Chromecast) because the splitter stops it from moving between the devices.

    Two HDMI splitters that work for fixing HDCP errors are the ViewHD 2 Port 1x2 Powered HDMI Mini Splitter (VHD-1X2MN3D) and the CKITZE BG-520 HDMI 1x2 3D splitter 2 ports switches.

  3. Use an alternative setup. If your goal is to watch specific streaming content, using a wireless solution like an iPad and AirPlay bypasses the HDCP hardware altogether.