Creative Commons (CC to those in the know) is a non-profit making organisation that offers the authors of works of a cultural nature (text, film, photos, music, websites etc) a legal framework for sharing their creative work subject to certain conditions. In real terms, Creative Commons makes available to creators, free of charge, flexible copyright licensing agreements to use in distributing their creative work.
The author or creator might decide to place his or her work under a Creative Commons licence, which means it can be used completely lawfully without paying any fees, but in exchange for this you must cite or thank the author. Or you might have to undertake not to use the work for any commercial purposes. Another option allows you to use the work created, on the condition that you share it on the same terms, in other words distribute it under the same licence or a similar one. All in all, there are 11 distinct licence agreements worldwide. To find out which form of licence the author has chosen, you need only look at the small print usually found at the foot of the page or the end of the article containing the work. There is a pictogram for each of the possible forms of licence. For example, the symbol BY in a circle (see the illustration above) means that you must at least cite the author of the work you are about to use.