Is a photograph of a vodka bottle a derivative work? How about a photograph of a toy? A sculpture? Noted copyright expert William Patry examines cases dealing with these questions in "Photographs and Derivative Works," finding that the court's interpretation isn't always correct.
Here's an excerpt:
Photographs of other objects are not derivative works of those objects. First, a photograph of an object is not "based on" that object: It is a mere depiction of it. Second, even if one were to find that a photograph of an object is based on that "preexisting work" within the meaning of the definition of "derivative work" in Section 101, such a photograph must still "recast, transform, or adapt" the authorship in the preexisting work to be considered a derivative work.