This Content Requires HDCP For Playback

Yesterday, if you’ll recall, I rented “Transformers” in HD via the interface on the AppleTV. So, yeah, ok it took a while to download (all day). No problem. It was done by end of the day and rather than stay up late to watch it I thought I’d see what the quality was like this morning.

Hop onto the AppleTV and as expected Transformers tells me there are 29 days left in which to watch it. Cool. Click “Play” and guess what appears on my screen:


“This content requires HDCP for playback.

HDCP isn’t supported by your HDMI connection.
Use the component video connection to watch this content.”

OK, who’s the asshat who did THAT!? Why does the rental of a video require me to have component video? Two things here… my cinema display, you know… the APPLE one… won’t play back an APPLE rented video via the HDMI connection on the back of the APPLE tv (emphasis mine). Hello. McFly! There’s no component video option on this APPLE Cinema Display.

This is the kind of crap that’s going to keep NetFlix, Blockbuster and Joe’s Online Video Rental (if there is such a thing) way ahead of Apple. Sure, some folks will just shrug and say… “Okie dokie, component cables here we go.” I can’t do that with my cinema display. Now I’m going on a tear to see where it says on iTunes I can’t play this stuff back over HDMI. Looks like I’m not the only one either. (link to Apple Support forum)
APPLE… get your shit together! This is precisely the reason people are going to buy the Apple mini over the AppleTV.

(I’m going to try and sync AppleTV to iTunes on the laptop. Maybe the laptop will be able to play it to the Cinema Display. Ya think!?… EDIT: If I’m reading this right, due to the DRM of HDCP it will not sync FROM my AppleTV to my iTunes. I call “Bullshitake”)

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15 Comments on “This Content Requires HDCP For Playback”

  1. Ron Denton Says:

    DRM from MPAA strikes again. It looks like they just didn;t look quite far enough ahead on the cinema display. Another view here:

  2. Mark Says:

    I sympathise, I really do (Apple are screwing over a lot of people just now) but to be honest, I’m not all that surprised that it doesn’t play on your Cinema Display (despite the name!). It hadn’t occurred to me initially, but now you mention it I’m fairly sure those displays use DVI rather than HDMI. I presume you’ve got some kind of dongle converting the HDMI to a DVI signal? If so it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple’s stance is that you shouldn’t be able to connect those two pieces of hardware together in the first place.

    The bit about not being able to synch it back up to iTunes really does surprise me though. I thought during the keynote that Steve went on at length about how you could rent something and it’d synch back to your iTunes library and even to your video iPod so that you can watch it wherever you go. Not only that, but I’m sure I remember him saying that it would even keep a note of exactly where you are in the film so you wouldn’t have to fast-forward.

    Maybe he conveniently forgot to say that it only applied to non-HD content.

    One final thing, Apple probably want people to buy the Mac Mini instead of the AppleTV as it’s more expensive for the consumer to purchase in the first place and on top of that you’ve got payable OS updates too.

    Granted the HDMI DRM thing is probably down to MPAA nonsense (far too many acronyms for one sentence!), but Apple are pulling some very dubious moves just now.

  3. Mark Says:

    Hang on a minute! Surely composite doesn’t support HDCP, and hence DRM, either?

  4. As always Mark… quite astute observances on your part. I just don’t get it. Perhaps this is what happens when the boss man says, “It’ll be out in two weeks.”: Too many things fall on the cutting room floor or are left undone.

    This is a biggie though. At least to me. I don’t WANT to have to connect my AppleTV to anything other than this cinema display (and yes… I’m using an adapter/dongle/whatever you want to call it. So far, there’s been ZERO problem playing HD vodcasts through to the Cinema Display. So, it never occured to me a RENTAL would behave any differently. In fact! My expectation now is “I paid for the bloody thing. It had better work like a champ. (even if it was only $4)”

  5. Jessy Houle Says:


    I couldn’t agree with you more. I appreciate the blog as an opportunity to express my very same frustration.

    This is just plain and simply unacceptable. If I rent a movie, I expect it to work. If I buy a movie I expect that to work, as well as be able to make a backup copy.

    I don’t know how many of your readers listen to podcasts, but any of the TWIT podcasts that Leo Laporte hosts voices the same concerns of STUPID DRM and the real affects of it, which by the way is not stopping the true thieves.

    Finally, good move on putting a direct link to the Apple Support forum for this issue on the post. I also added my concerns there (more verbosely) as well.

    Thank you.

    -Jessy Houle

  6. Chris Przybycien Says:

    The Apple Cinema Display does not support HDCP and this is why you cannot view HD rentals on it. HDCP support is frequently built into HDTVs but not very often in computer monitors. It’s funny how consumer products have useless warnings about incredibly obvious facts like “coffee is hot” but don’t have warnings like “you are not allowed to use this product in any way you choose”

  7. PJ Says:

    I have the exact same problem. I will be returning my AppleTV is this week. I suggest everyone who is as fed up as I am do the same. It’s the only way to send a message.

  8. Miguel Says:

    Just to mention one quick thing. It is probably the Monitor and not the AppleTV which is not HDCP compliant. Both have to be to work. This is so you can not export the HDMI content to another device and copy it. Both devices have to be HDCP compliant the player and the monitor to be able to watch it on HD quality… otherwise as you said, it will let you watch it over component connection but you loose the HD quality.

    Saqme thing will happen with any other device, not only Apple. It has happend to me with my monitor over DVI because it is not HDCP compliant.

    Hope it helps…

  9. Miguel, Oh you’re spot on the money bro. Apple basically let HDMI bend me over and say howdy.

    And, Jobs is right, “AppleTV is a hobby” to them. Otherwise, they’d get serious and fix crap like that.

  10. John Says:

    I’ve read about this alittle bit. HDCP stands for High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection. It really came about when BlueRay and HDDVD’s started being produced. The High definition player (Blueray DVD Player, or in this case Apple TV) and the monitor have an encrypted data link. The player will send the monitor a “KEY” so that it understands the data. The problem with apple cinema displays, is that they were being produced before this standard was developed. I guess in Apples defence, they never said that Apple TV would work with a computer monitor. They’re pretty specific… wide screen high definition television. If you want to hate someone over HDCP, hate Sony, I believe they developed it. They’ve always been jerks when it comes to us copying. HD Content providers would never let apple send HD content to a computer or device that wasn’t HDCP Complient.

  11. Jesuz Says:

    I have the exact same problem at the moment. How can you be able to view it eventually? Any luck?
    I’m planning to get my iTunes store credit back because I can’t see it.

  12. Pissed Says:

    HDCP stands for HANDICAPPED!

  13. Matt Says:

    DRM sucks, but the studios haven’t gotten the message.

    Apple was probably required to put HDCP on these movies as part of an agreement with the studios. Unfortunately, the Cinema is a DVI display, and therefore does not support HDCP.

    Ideally, HDCP-protected content would degrade, rather than completely fail to play, on HDCP-incapable monitors.

    In truth, though, the ideal is no DRM.

  14. syedson Says:

    SOLUTION-I got the same error message earlier, so I used a different HDMI port on my TV and I can now watch the content now from ATV.

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