Dear Royal Queen of Snarkyness,
I have a question about copyright.
If one of my short stories appears in a literary journal and that literary journal receives a collective copyright (for the specific edition of the journal), is my story protected individually? Once a story or poem appears in a literary journal, do I need then to apply for a copyright?
Also, I've noticed a number of internet businesses that are selling downloads of individual poems/articles, etc. Are they allowed to do so without the permission of the author? Or, once the poem/story/article appears in a journal, is it up for grabs?
The cost of applying for a copyright on an individual poem/story is 45$ per item- this would add up quickly. What's the best way to protect ones work once it is published. I'm concerned about keeping the rights to my work just in case my short story/poetry collection ever comes out.
You're laboring under some incorrect assumptions. Here's what happens with short stories.
YOU, the author, are the copyright holder. You retain your copyright even when you "sell" the story to the anthology because you really aren't selling the story, you are licensing it to the anthology for publication. The anthology does not apply for a copyright for the collection because they don't own your story; they are essentially renting it.
However, they charge money for the anthology (what you see as charging money online) and that is their income, not yours. Hopefully you get a piece of it (royalty), or you were paid a licensing fee ("advance" or "paid for your story" is how you hear that described). Yes, that's ok. It's like a book publisher printing copies of the book they have acquired from you.
Still confused? Ask away!