What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a charitable corporation that provides a unique licensing option for people looking to share their work and media. Because recent changes in legislation grant any new piece of work full copyright without the actual copyright symbol needed to be in place, it has been difficult to determine which authors actually want to share their works and allow them to be used and built upon. Creative Commons acts as a intermediary between fully copyrighted pieces of work and works that are in the Public Domain and are free to everyone. Since you cannot always personally get the permission from the author to use his or her work, Creative Commons has created a new licensing option dubbed "Creative Commons" (CC) which translates that the piece of work you are looking at has some rights reserved but is not fully copyrighted.
Creative Commons is not meant to be a competing licensing system for copyright but instead it is meant as a complement to the copyright licensing system. It simply aids in differentiating pieces of work that are fully copyright protected and pieces of work that have some rights reserved but are intended to be shared and built upon in ways outlined by the license.
Do's and Dont's
The Creative Commons license applies to any piece of work normally covered under copyright law including books, films, blogs, web sites,...etc. Although the Creative Commons license implies that a piece of work in not fully copyrighted, it does not give a person the right to use and distribute the work any way they want. A person interested in using a CC licensed work must still review the license to comply with the authors specific guidelines about how he or she would like their work to be used and shared.
How it affects Instructors
Creative Commons could potentially be a great benefit to Instructors by allowing greater flexibility in sharing works with students. Teachers can find new ways to interact and build upon knowledge with students without the barrier of copyright laws impeding on the sharing of information. This would provide a great appeal for collaborative research projects that may require students and faculty to edit and share a work that would normally be fully copyrighted by applying a Creative Commons license to the work with specific license guidelines.
Another effect that Creative Commons may create is that it could potentially encourage some students to feel that CC licensed works can be used in any way they wish and unknowingly commit plagiarism. Instructors must inform students of the proper way to work with CC licensed works to prevent such potential crimes.