If I attempt to publish a short story in a magazine, can there be an issue of copywriting? Do I need to somehow "insure" my work before I send it?
And if so, how?
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No it is not necessary to insure your work before sending it. International law will garantee copyright ownership to the author without any formality. This is stated in the Berne convention in article 5.2, and repeated in the main international treaties on copyright.
However, it is necessary to be able to prove that you are the author in casesomeone else pretends to be the author. You can try to prove that by any mean at your disposal. Registering with a copyright office is one such mean.
Note however that, in the USA at least, you must register with the copyright office if you want effective enforcement of your copyright in a court. Without registration, you cannot claim damage or attorney fees, though you can get an injunction against infringement.
I realize this is an old question, but thought I'd mention a couple of things. Note that I am speaking of copyright in the United States and I am not a lawyer. Going through the process to formally copyright a short story is not going to be worth the time, effort, and money (assuming you would want to copyright each story you are writing). The process is designed more for book length work, IMO. Also, if you send a short story out to a magazine, in hopes that they will publish it, and you tell them it is copyrighted, I believe that is seen as a sign of being an amateur. As @babou said, your work is automatically copyrighted when you write it. The danger of someone taking your work and trying to pawn it off as their own is slim. You don't need to protect yourself from the editors.
You don't need to insure your work -- I'm assuming you mean before sending it out in the mail. Just don't send your only copy. These days, presumably, you are writing on a computer of some sort and have digital copies of your work. Also, many journals are accepting submissions via email or online submission manager, so you don't have the concern of the post office losing your work. Your mileage may vary, and this may not apply, depending on geography, market you are sending to, etc.