HDCP Error: What It Is and How to Fix One

What 'ERROR: NON-HDCP OUTPUT' and 'HDCP ERROR' Messages Mean

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 or HDCP ERROR.

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

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

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

What HDCP Means

The acronym stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. It's 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 (e.g. the HDTV or media center).

Just like how 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 will 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 then you'll get an HDCP error. This is true for cable boxes, Roku Streaming Stick, audio-video receivers and most other modern high-def devices or players that interface with those devices.

How to Fix HDCP Errors

The only solution is to either replace all the hardware that is not HDCP compliant (a pretty extreme solution considering it might be your expensive HDTV) or use an HDMI splitter that ignores HDCP requests.

If you go the HDMI splitter route, position the splitter between the output and input device. For example, if your Chromecast can't connect to your TV because of HDCP errors, connect the Chromecast to the input port of the splitter and run a different HDMI cable from the output port of the splitter into your TV's HDMI slot.

What happens is that the request for the HDCP device (your TV, Blu-ray player, etc), 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 will 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.