Creative Commons (CC) is an American non-profit organization and international network devoted to educational access and expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright licenses, known as Creative Commons licenses, free of charge to the public.
These licenses allow authors of creative works to communicate which rights they reserve and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. An easy-to-understand one-page explanation of rights, with associated visual symbols, explains the specifics of each Creative Commons license. Content owners still maintain their copyright, but Creative Commons licenses give standard releases that replace the individual negotiations for specific rights between copyright owner (licensor) and licensee, that are necessary under an "all rights reserved" copyright management.
It can be difficult to determine what is or is not an adaptation. Some things that are not considered adaptation or derivative works are:
Technical format shifting (changing a work from digital to print) does not qualify as an adaptation under a Creative Commons License
Making spelling or punctuation corrections is not an adaptation
Syncing a Creative Commons licensed musical work with a moving image is not an adaptation under the license
Creating a collection of Creative Commons licensed works is not an adaptation of the individual works
Including an unmodified image in a work with text (i.e. a Creative Commons image in an article) is not an adaptation