Apple and HDCP: A DRM success story

February 24, 2012

Digital Rights Management is an ugly subject. Sometimes, however, it flies below the radar because it “just works.” That is generally the case with Intel’s High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, especially as it applies to Apple products, like with Display Port (DP), High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and Digital Visual Interface (DVI) connectors.

I was vaguely aware — it just works — that Apple TV uses HDCP, which the company talks about in this Knowledge Base article:

      HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is a form of digital copy protection that requires compatibility between a source, such as your Apple TV, and a receiver, such as a high definition TV. Apple TV (2nd generation) supports HDCP.

      See also: HDCP, Wikipedia.

HDCP also gets a mention in Apple’s iTunes TERMS AND CONDITIONS (Usage Rules, viii), but only that “an HDCP connection is required to view movies transmitted over HDMI.”

If you search the web for HDCP, what you’ll find are links to technical information, very similar to the results for a FairPlay (Apple’s iTunes and App Store DRM).

Yes, you will also find links to articles about problems users are having and, of course, people hacking these technologies, but many of the topics are months or years old — not exactly a hot button issue.

That said, HDCP is fairly remarkable in that so few people talk about this digital rights management scheme. Fundamentally, there isn’t a lot of controversy simply because HDCP just works…

Isn’t that the way DRM should be?

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