Remember: under federal law, as an author or creator, copyrights are attached to certain types of intellectual property. Since 1992, copyrights are granted at the time of the work's creation when "the fruit of mental labor", the ideas, are fixed in some sort of medium and in a tangible form of expression of ideas. Therefore, unless you wish to formally register a copyright, authors/creators do not have to apply for or file a copyright.
Reasons to care about your author rights (From Cornell University Library):
A complete transfer of copyright can have the following negative implications:
Understanding Publisher Methods (Cornell University Library)
Benefits of copyright registration
"Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.
Other author rights resources:
Cornell University Library Copyright Management for Authors Very thorough.
Information about the Author Rights and the Author Addendum
The issue of Scholarly Communication is a growing and overall complex field. Such complexity is in response to changes within the economics of traditional vehicles of academic publishing.
An important aspect concerns author's right-rights such as "the options for publishing, posting, archiving and distributing their scholarship" (from ACRL).
Sponsored by Stanford Copyright & Fair Use, this interview from 2011 discussing negotiating author rights, remains relevant.
Below are sites for scholarly communication:
Illinois State University
Campus Box 8900
201 North School Street
Normal, Il 61790-8900