© Copyright - To put it simply, a copyright is a subset of intellectual property law, and it's a formal legal protection for authorship. Copyright protects original works, including literary works, dramatic works and even technical works. Copyright law extends to everything from poetry and novels to architecture and computer software, and includes music, movies and most written works. Did you know that as soon as you finish creating something new (research paper, music, photo, drawing, poem) that work is automatically copyrighted? It's true! The big "C" (©) doesn't have the make an appearance.
Creative Commons - This option is a way for you to take your intellectual property – original content like photos, writing, designs, videos and more, and assign rights to it to be shared with the community and the world. It is not an alternative to copyright: it works in parallel with copyright. Creative Commons licensing can protect the original copyright and level of permissions the author chooses. It can also perpetuate these rights (or not, depending on the author’s choice) and encourages and facilitates re-use and sharing.
So you want to know more about Copyright?
A Quick Introduction to Copyright & Creative Commons
Fair Use - Fair use is the most significant limitation on the copyright holder's exclusive rights. Deciding whether the use of a work is fair IS NOT a science. There are no set guidelines that are universally accepted. Instead, the individual who wants to use a copyrighted work must weigh four factors: (1) The purpose and character of the use. (2) The nature of the copyrighted work. (3) The amount and substantiality of the portion used. (4) The effect of use on the potential market for the copyrighted work.
Public Domain - The public domain is generally defined as consisting of works that are either ineligible for copyright protection or with expired copyrights. No permission whatsoever is needed to copy or use public domain works. Public domain works and information represent some of the most critical information that faculty members and students rely upon. Public domain works can serve as the foundation for new creative works and can be quoted extensively. They can also be copied and distributed to classes or digitized and placed on course Web pages without permission or paying royalties.