Creative Commons is a new licensing scheme (created in 2002) which enables artists to license their work for use by other artists, and the general public, in a way chosen by them. It represents what copyright was always supposed to be about, artists holding control over how their material is used while retaining the natural human instinct to evolve works and to build on what others have done. It is something that has been so fundamental to other industries like science, it is hard to see why it has taken creative works so long to reach this point.
Creative Commons is about artists pooling their work into a global body of works which can be reused, recycled and remixed into new works. I highly recommend checking out CreativeCommons.org and archive.org for the size and variety of works that can be accessed, especially if you are an artist. I would also recommend this video.
I think some of the fundamental assumptions that we take for granted needed to reassessed in light of the information revolution. For example, that cultural works should belong solely to those who create them and that they should have the right to make as much profit off them as possible. Such an attitude is really only beneficial for those who already own the great majority of works, it does not help new artists. It also limits us into a regime where we are either a producer, or a consumer. These days very few dream of becoming movie directors, yet almost all of us go to the movies regularly or semi-regularly. We have been pushed into a space where we consume and are not allowed to have any creative input back into the images we are shown because of copyright, because that would impinge on someone elses ability to earn money.
While everyone must make a living, ultimately we should judge any system on how it benefits the group as well as how it benefits the individual. Its just so easy to measure individual income that it often becomes the baseline measurement for intangible assets, like a body of creative works that we can all draw upon. The value of works submitted to creative commons, from the point of view of the community, is ten fold those that are copyrighted and allow a selected group of individuals to make money.
While we need carrots and money to get people out of bed in the morning, we need compassion and sharing to keep them working and keep people satisfied with what they are achieving. When talking to your nearist conformist, ask them how they can possibly believe that compassion could be replaced with a monetary system. If we drill down human sharing into simply handling over of money to purchase a cd, if that is the only way I can collaborate with artists, then we end up losing so much of community. Consider that your most major relationship in your life will be between yourself and money, how much you are earning and how you are spending it. Linux and CC offer a deeper relationship, one in which you can trade respect, compassion and community rather than bank balances. I find that idea very powerful.