HDCP Explanation

AV is easily one of the most important tools you have at your disposal for teaching in classrooms. When it goes right, you can express and convey complex ideas and theories. When it goes wrong, it's hard to get back on track with a new plan for the day. We understand this and work diligently to make sure it works with as little to no class down time as possible.

So, what is this HDCP thing? HDCP stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. Basically it is a digital handshake to protect copyrighted material and to prevent it from being copied via hardware and redistributed without proper permission. 

What does this mean for me at Missouri Western? Many rooms use VGA as the backbone of the system, which means this digital handshake cannot happen. Meaning, although the content may play just fine on your office computer, laptop, tablet or phone it may not play properly through the projector in the classroom. It all depends on the content creator and whether they applied copyright to it or not. If the audio or video was working before you opened the content page, then you have run into HDCP. We may not be able to quickly or legally get around this issue during your class time. We understand this is frustrating.

Why have I not run into this before? I'm certain you have watched YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, Netflix, Bluray or other on your phone, in your office, and on your smart TV and so on. So, have you seen HDCP before? Actually, yes. When you connect a device to your TV or display, I'm sure you have noticed that little blink to black as it connects. This is both digital connections syncing and HDCP communications confirming that the display is encrypting the signal and unable to loop out or copy the material. 

So why would you build the classrooms here non-HDCP compliant, can't you just change a wire or something?  Much of the backend infrastructure of signal transfer in the rooms was designed and installed over 20 years ago. So, older than many of the students on campus. The idea of the devices enforcing copyright was a crazy dream at the time. Let's be honest, 20 years ago you probably used your VCR to record a show while you ran to the store. This is not something we can change during your class, overnight, or by your next class period. However:

What can I do about it, I really need this content!? We know you do. Please, test your content in the classroom on the projector prior to class. Prior to the semester would be amazing and help give us time to best assist you. If you do find content with issues, contact Classroom Services (816) 271-4395. We can be over to the classroom in usually just a few minutes. We will check through any known issues with the technology in the room, just to be sure something didn't fail. If we find no issues we can direct you to the appropriate parties on campus that can get the content you need for your presentation. We know it is not ideal, but we often can add this content to your Canvas course so the students can view it on their own time after or before class. This is assuming you didn't test the content ahead of time and we provided it to you in a format that can be played in the classroom.

So you didn't make a policy and actively block Netflix and AmazonPrime in classrooms and event spaces? No, actually we want you to use video examples for educational purposes. You know your field better than us, and if you can use Monty Python for demonstration purposes we would LOVE to help you with video examples. This block is an industry regulated thing. 

Fair Use: It is important to note at this time: although Fair Use does apply easily available content in classrooms for educational purposes. Things like YouTube, Vimeo, DVD's and Bluray. It may be considered a violation of Fair Use if the content is hidden behind a password like Netflix or Hulu. It may also be a violation of the specific streaming services user agreement if you are using a personal account to access the content. You would need to refer to the streaming services user agreement to be sure, or contact us and we will help you find the content for educational use.

This is such an obvious problem, costly on my time, my students time, and staff time to re-find this content. So, when are you going to fix this? We completely agree. If I could, I would order everything we need and start replacing things as soon as it shows up. Classrooms Services has been working diligently to keep up with the times. We have gone through every single room on campus and made an individual plan for the technology and furniture for that room based on the highest users of the spaces. This plan not only brings the classrooms up to modern HDCP standards, it also sets Missouri Western apart from the pack by surpassing ADA requirements and offering you modern brighter and higher resolution equipment to work with. We have been fortunate enough to have upgraded a hand full of rooms across campus to Full HD HDCP compliant equipment. But the truth of the matter is the cost to finish the rest of the rooms on campus is just slightly over a million dollars. I don't foresee being able to upgrade much more in the near future... That is, unless you know of a donor willing to donate towards upgrading the classrooms you use most often. And in that case send me an email or give me call; let's do this!

But on a serious note, we simply ask that you are patient and understanding, we are working hard to keep the technology stable and moving along as quickly as we can.

Want to know more about HDCP ? (You may be a tech geek if you answered yes to this) Follow this link.

Want to know more about Fair Use to make sure your content use is compliant Follow this link.