Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.
They offer free, easy-to-use copyright licenses that provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”
Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs. You can license your own work under CC as well as find work (images, video, etc) created by others who are willing to share.
Creative Commons Explained
There are six Creative Commons (CC) licenses. These CC licenses indicate the use parameters that have been granted by the content creator. The content creator still owns the copyright to that content, but through the selected CC license the creator is granting re-use of the content under the specified parameters. There is more on the history and uses of CC licenses on the Creative Commons Website.