All of the guidelines published by the American Institute of Architects and other professional organizations have long urged practitioners to hold on to their "original drawings" and to deliver to their clients only prints of those drawings. Yet the U.S. Department of Defense has for just as long made it a part of the Conditions of the Contract that the A/E shall deliver unto the Government all of the original vellums or mylars of all final Contract Documents. The Government subsequently bears all the expense of reproducing those documents, specifications included, in quantity, and of preparing microfiche copies of all of the drawings for archiving purposes.
There was a time when architectural and engineering drawings were beautifully "draughted" in ink on highly starched linen. They were then run through a "blue-printing" process which resulted in prints of blue paper having white lines on them. Reprographic technology advanced (not necessarily concurrently with "draughting"): "blue prints" gave way to blueline diazo-process prints, which gave way, again, to photo processes that today can reproduce any drawing, on paper or mylar, in a virtually "original" format. Thus the "original" has technologically lost its exclusivity as a one-of-a-kind document. Today, one can possess dozens of "originals", each practically indistinguishable from the other.
Performing architectural design services on a "fee for service" basis since around 1949, I have always felt fairly and fully compensated when I received my agreed upon fee, and the drawings representing my design efforts were freely given over to my clients for their further use and/or reproduction. I consider the handing over of the original drawings a normal part of my service.
In today's electronic world of CAD there is again an hysterical and paranoid segment of the design professions attempting to withhold their CAD documents, in electronic format, from their clients, because CAD floppies constitute the equivalent of their precious paper originals.
Look at the situation from the perspective of the owner: having paid for the intellectual efforts which went into creating the data now residing in raw electronic form on that floppy disk, he should be entitled to any further use of that electronic data if such use constitutes a legitimate owner's need. In most cases, the information (data) which the owner wants is above and beyond the information I provided according to my contractual obligation to supply building design documents for construction purposes. The types of information he seeks are the simple "electronic by-products", if you will, of the CAD design process, and the owner's use of them for other purposes in no way detracts from my architectural design efforts, nor does it to alter the intent of my design elements.
As an architect, in order to protect my rights to such electronic information, I do inform my clients that I retain all rights to further use of all CAD "blocks" contained within their CAD drawings, but that they are free to electronically copy any and all data contained in the DWG files and to make that data available to anyone they choose without further compensation to me. I also specify that any further use of those DWG files shall not make me liable for any mis-use of that data.
This practice is equivalent to the present day custom of an owner furnishing paper or mylar "as-builts" to any new design professional or consultant, for purposes of making new or adaptive designs or modifications to the original design concepts. Supplying as-builts is extremely helpful in most remodel projects, since the preparation of measured drawings, whether electronic or manual, of existing conditions is extremely labor-intensive and constitutes "additional services". It is far more practical to base new designs on as-built prints even when they are less than 100% accurate. If the original drawings have been produced on CAD, and floppy disks of those CAD drawings are in the possession of the owner, then any new architect hired to do remodel work will at least have an electronic DWG file to work from.
There is another benefit to the owner who has floppy disks of his project's drawings, and one which takes absolutely nothing away from the work of the original designer/architect. There is hidden information contained within any electronically drawn line, arc, or circle, such as length or radius. With CAD drawings on floppy disk, that raw electronic data can be manipulated by the owner for purposes of area calculations, occupancy factors or usage.