The current law went into effect January 1, 1978 and applies only to what was published on or after that date. Actually, everything you write has automatic copyright protection from the time it reaches a fixed form (you have it out of your head and written down) and it then becomes your personal property. The copyright isn’t registered (we’ll talk about that later), but you do control when and how it can be used. If you have a co-author in the work you own the copyright jointly. If you contribute to a collective work, your story or chapter will be copyrighted separately from the rest of the book.