[ Archived at http://sethf.com/essays/minornet/drm-newspeak.php ]
In battles over copying and rights, the very language itself is a skirmish. There is blog discussion about restricted-purpose language, sparked by messages where Seth Schoen Makes a Doubleplusgood Point, and professor Ed Felten replies. The Newspeak language of the book 1984 is a canonical example of a language shaped by the needs of politics.
Note the description of Newspeak matches the purpose of Digital-Rights-Management, on the intended expression side in addition to the suppression side.
That is, for Newspeak, we have:
Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods.
Don't we have, exactly, for Digital-Rights-Management:
Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every business model that a content industry member could properly wish to sell access, while excluding all other access and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods.
And, this was/will be, heavily backed by law. Un-DMCA codespeak doubleplusungood for the speaker. The element of law is crucial.
Newspeak doesn't conjure up images of the idea that you can't make a language where certain concepts are inexpressible, therefore the Party was silly and stupid to even try. Rather, it conveys images that you can have an official system which is restrictive and oppressive and works to impoverish the vast majority of the population. That is, the comparison to Newspeak is not "it can't work", but "it can work, so beware".
Suppose we remove the literary flourishes from the description of Newspeak. That is, rather than proclaiming:
The purpose of Newspeak was ...to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted ... a heretical thought ... should be literally unthinkable ...
Let's have a more qualified, less hyperbolic:
The purpose of Newspeak was ...to make all other modes of thought cumbersome and onerous. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted ... a heretical thought ... should be difficult to articulate, easy to be derided and mocked, readily attacked when conveyed to others.
This lacks the punch and flourish of the stark statement of unthinkable. But it's a much more accurate description of what would likely be the case in practice. Both Newspeak and Digital-Rights-Management are systems where forms of expression, and legal prohibitions, are combined in a way so that the restrictions have the force of both language and law.