Is there a standard or something in the making that allows the inclusion of a license that will allow indexation and publishing of a website, citation and sharing of the links?

Some meta tag for example

<meta type="license" allowed="index, searchresult, snippet" allowed-to="google.com, bing.com, duckduckgo.com">

and for images and videos a meta data setting to set the license?

<img src="foo.jpg" copyright-holder="Some Photographer" license-type="cc-by-sa2.0" license-url="http..." >  

Is there something like this or in the making?

The reason is the article 13 that passed and has made google/bing/duckduckgo/etc.. responsible for the copyright of the content on its servers. This would most likely include their page cache they use for indexing websites, the images they show in google images and much more.

You could basically summarize my question as:

What would be a future proof way to prevent search engines from excluding my website elements based on the new copyright directive, by allowing licensing of elements to the search engine robots.

  • Are you talking about the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, Article 13/17? On reading the Wikipedia article about it I don't see what it has to do with your site showing in search results. It looks like it is about uploaded content such as video and music. Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 10:50
  • Yea, but we use a lot of images and content. I wonder if there is a way to indicate to the bots it's fine to index and show search results of our results digitally that can interpreted by the bots. Depending on legislation that will roll out things can turn out a lot strickter and draconian, and i'm going with worst case scenario and that is that google search results will simply block everything it doesn't have a license for with the link tax/copyright directive changes. Tinfoil hat thinking, but i'm exploring options, theres only two years left to prepare and consider things. Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 10:57
  • I haven't heard Google say that they need such a tag at this point. Even if you put a tag in, Google needs to say they support it or you are just wasting your time. Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 10:59
  • 1
    That's my question, trying to see if there are standards in development or anything like that that would allow tagging stuff with licenses in code. Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 11:00

1 Answer 1


(I’m ignoring the legal aspect whether or not the new EU Copyright Directive actually affects search engines in such a way.)

Allowing/disallowing indexing

Traditionally, indexing is allowed by default, and can be disallowed by using the HTTP header X-Robots-Tag or the HTML meta-robots element. Both of these ways also allow to target only a specific search engine. This also makes it possible to disallow archiving the page, or to disallow showing a snippet, etc.

Google’s documentation: Robots meta tag and X-Robots-Tag HTTP header specifications

Specifying usage rights

By using the license link type, you can specify the usage rights for the main content of the webpage (example).
By using structured data, you can specify the usage rights for each piece of the webpage.

Google Search and Google Image Search allow filtering by usage rights. This feature is intended for users to find content (indexed by Google) which they are allowed to reuse.

The only webmaster documentation I could find is a Google blog post from 2009 (back then the feature was only enabled for Google Image Search): Specifying an image's license using RDFa (direct link to video)

Their example shows the use of RDFa (the syntax) and the property xhv:license (the vocabulary):

<div about="image.jpg">
 <img src="image.jpg">
 <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0</a>

There is no reason to assume that RDFa and xhv:license no longer work, but maybe Google now supports other syntaxes (JSON-LD, Microdata) and properties from other vocabularies (cc:license, dc:license, schema:license), too.

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